What you need to know about the Big 12's recruiting classes
Feb 5, 2014 at 6:36p ET
Signing day is always a whirlwind, but with more than 200 signees officially joining Big 12 programs on Wednesday, it can be hard to keep up. That's why we're here.
Here's how I'd rank the classes across the conference today, and get a taste for what you need to know about who each team will be bringing in next fall.
1. Oklahoma Sooners
What you need to know: The Sooners' late push and Texas' late swoon gave Oklahoma the No. 1 spot in the Big 12. Oklahoma's California pipeline that began with Kenny Stills, Tony Jefferson and Brennan Clay continued in a big way this season. The Sooners landed Joe Mixon, a five-star running back who is the nation's No. 5 player at his position. Safety Steven Parker, a Jenks, Okla. native also made headlines by committing to his home state team on Tuesday. OU beat out pretty much everyone for the services of the nation's No. 11 safety, who was long considered an OU lean but thought seriously about committing to Texas A&M. The Sooners also landed a trio of other four stars in OT Kenyon Frison, WR Mark Andrews and WR Dallis Todd. Quarterback Justice Hansen is also a four-star signee, but he's been on campus for classes and working with the team this semester. OU also got a signing day pickup in Michiah Quick, the nation's No. 6 receiver who'll work in the slot for the Sooners and has a great ability to turn short gains into big ones with the ball in his hand. OU sealed the deal with nearly every target in the days leading up to and on signing day, capped by grabbing Orlando Brown from Tennessee. Its lone miss came on DE Deondre Clark, an Oklahoma City, Okla. defensive end who followed through on a commitment and sent his letter of intent to LSU, though the Tigers are reportedly waiting to announce it until Thursday.
2. Texas Longhorns
What you need to know: Charlie Strong dealt with a handful of decommitments since taking over, including three defensive tackles in a 24-hour period and All-American defensive end Sione Teuhema, whose "little" brother Maea, at 346 pounds, would have joined him next year. One of those defensive tackles, Courtney Garrett, ended up at Oklahoma. Still, for as much as the departures were the story for Texas, the Longhorns still reeled in a solid class, even if the Sooners passed them up as the Big 12's best. As long as Texas struggles at quarterback, the position will be the biggest story in Austin. Denton Guyer's Jerrod Heard, the nation's No. 2 quarterback, will face pressure similar to what Tyrone Swoopes faced this season. David Ash will return to practice this spring, but considering his history with concussions, the battle to be his backup will be heated this fall. The backup could be a whole lot more than a bench warmer with one unfortunate hit. Defensive end Derick Roberson will continue a strong tradition at the position on the 40 Acres, and running back Donald Catalon also highlight the Longhorns' class. Roberson, a four-star recruit and the nation's No. 9 defensive end, will have an opportunity to contribute immediately. Texas also got a late boost on signing day by landed All-Name teamer Poona Ford, the nation's No. 24 defensive tackle from Hilton Head, S.C. who famously squatted 585 pounds in high school. One troubling number: Texas signed just two of the state's top 16 prospects. A&M signed three, Baylor signed two and LSU nabbed two as well. Charlie Strong has his work cut out for him next year.
3. Oklahoma State Cowboys
What you need to know: The Cowboys beat out everyone for highly touted five-star juco all-purpose back Tyreek Hill. The speedster from Garden City Community College in Kansas will do a little bit of everything for OSU and should have an immediate impact after Josh Stewart left early for the NFL Draft. Mike Gundy sold him on a chance to play receiver, but he'll also get some time at running back and in the special teams. OSU also signed six four-stars and the nation's No. 24 quarterback, Mason Rudolph, who could compete for the starting job in the fall. He'll get a lot of attention, but don't overlook the linebackers. OSU signed five of them, highlighted by four-star Gyasi Akem (I dug his orange bow tie on Wednesday, by the way.) and Josh Mabin.
4. Baylor Bears
What you need to know: Bryce Petty, you are a very lucky man. Art Briles has turned Baylor into Wide Receiver U with Kendall Wright, Terrance Williams and Josh Gordon making waves in the NFL. That's carried over to the recruiting trail. Davion Hall (early enrollee) and K.D. Cannon are the headliners as the nation's Nos. 4 and 5 players at the position, just a year after Robbie Rhodes signed with Baylor as the nation's No. 2 receiver. Chris Platt is also one of the nation's top receivers and the Bears added four stars in OG Blake Blackmar, OLB T'Kevian Rockwell and running back Terence Williams. Briles stayed at Baylor and this offensive machine isn't slowing down any time soon.
5. Texas Tech Red Raiders
What you need to know: Tech lost QBs Baker Mayfield and Michael Brewer to transfer, and though Davis Webb will be the presumed starter next season, Whitehouse, Texas native Patrick Mahomes, the nation's No. 20 quarterback, is a dual-threat passer and might be forced to play a role with a big impact if Webb isn't healthy. Kliff Kingsbury acknowledged on Wednesday that Mahomes could play immediately. His athleticism could give him room to earn a package in the Red Raiders' offense next year. Tech continues to load up on skill position talent, too. The Red Raiders added four-star RB Justin Stockton and four-star WR Ian Sadler. Juco WR Devin Lauderdale has also been on campus this semester after originally hoping to be a member of last year's class. Florida native Nigel Bethel was a surprise pickup for Tech, He was previously committed to Miami before flipping to Tech last month. He's solid in coverage, and shutdown corners are always at a premium in the Big 12. He could blossom into one.
6. West Virginia Mountaineers
What you need to know: Quarterback William Crest is one of the headliners of this class, but CB Dravon Henry (No. 17 nationally) and RB Donte Thomas-Williams (No. 26 nationally) are more highly ranked. The most interesting note for me is WVU has just two signees who weren't given three or more stars. WVU still hasn't taken advantage of Big 12 membership just yet, though. Zero signees from this class hail from Texas. Fortunately, the Florida pipeline is still alive and well. Five signees are from the Sunshine State. The top player in the state of West Virginia, OL Amanii Brown, signed with the Mountaineers.
7. TCU Horned Frogs
What you need to know: QB Foster Sawyer (No. 13 nationally) is the highest-rated signee in the class, but Grayson Muehlstein of Decatur, Texas also signed and is the nation's No. 31 quarterback. The Frogs are loading up on offense where they need talent the most. TCU swiped No. 21 RB Shaun Nixon from Texas A&M earlier this week and No. 54 WR Emanuel Porter is a four-star from across I-30 in Dallas. So is No. 22 OG Ty Barrett, from Dallas Skyline. TCU missed out to Auburn on big offensive lineman Braden Smith on signing day, but the Frogs added three more WRs in the top 200 at their position.
8. Kansas Jayhawks
What you need to know: Kansas' class isn't as deep as some in the Big 12, but the strength at the top is about as good as anyone in the conference. Running backs Traevon Wrench and Corey Avery will step in to replace James Sims. Avery is a versatile back reminiscent of Tony Pierson. Linebacker Kyron Watson and center Jacob Bragg were also huge pickups who Kansas beat out programs like Ole Miss, Oregon State, Michigan, Michigan State Missouri and TCU to acquire.
9. Kansas State Wildcats
What you need to know: Signing day is always pretty quiet in Manhattan. Bill Snyder's built his program on development and sometimes overlooked juco signees, and this year is no different. Four-star defensive tackle Terrell Clinkscales was anything but overlooked, though. K-State swiped him from Nebraska late in the recruiting season, and linebacker Dvonta Derricott also is a four-star juco signee. The nation's No. 10 center Dalton Risner is the best high-school signee in the group, which includes seven junior college athletes. The Wildcats got a nice boost by nabbing LB Isaiah Riddle from Louisville as a signing day surprise. K-State also has the Big 12's largest class.
10. Iowa State Cyclones
What you need to know: WR Allen Lazard is more highly ranked by some services, but the No. 23 receiver overall could have a big impact early for the Cyclones. He's the lone four-star signee in the class, and ISU held off a recruiting charge from Notre Dame to keep Lazard in the fold. A little more than half the class has three stars or more, but new OC Mark Mangino added another great piece to an underrated offense next season. Juco transfer Devron Moore also enrolled early and could make an impact. No. 78 RB Michael Warren is another highly-ranked offensive talent heading to Ames, along with No. 47 QB Darius Lee-Campbell.