Big 12 Signing Day: What you need to know
Signing Day is a fascinating exercise for any onlooker inside or outside the world of college football. For one day, coaches, fans, media, message board posters and angry tweeters working for, following and covering programs big and small hold their collective breath in anticipation of a teenager’s ability to use an antiquated piece of office equipment that gets used once a year.
This, in spite of the time-honored, often-ignored knowledge that the majority of their names won’t resurface until 2017. For every Samaje Perine who breaks the NCAA single-game rushing record as a freshman, there’s a Shawn Oakman, who transfers across the country and sits out a year before tapping into his potential and beginning to build his draft buzz.
And that’s not even mentioning the "hidden gems" who stay hidden for four years and the five-star talents who finish their careers with fewer than five moments anyone remembers.
With every commitment, signing, flip and decommital, imaginary future trophies are whisked in and out of cases. Heights and weights are scrutinized, but anyone with "prototypical size" is a freak today and anyone who’s a little too slow or a little too small is a guy your program is lucky to have because everybody else somehow overlooked him.
Alas, today is the day when future stars decide which jersey they’ll be wearing. They’re just probably not the guys you think they are. Let’s take a closer look at the Signing Day that was in the Big 12.
What you missed today:
– Most of the Big 12 signing day drama resided on the 40 Acres. Texas missed out on RB Soso Jamabo (UCLA), DT Daylon Mack (Texas A&M) and WR Damarkus Lodge (Ole Miss), but the Horns hardly came up empty handed. Charlie Strong beat out Chris Petersen for four-star running back Chris Warren out of Rockwall, Texas. The Longhorns didn’t crack the Rivals top 10 or surpass Texas A&M in the final team rankings, but Charlie Strong’s first full class in Austin is a very good one and he closed strong. Three of Texas’ five highest-rated signees joined the class in the last week. Five-star LB Malik Jefferson never wavered after committing back on Dec. 19, and Strong helped ride the momentum of almost two months to build around the cornerstone of his class. DBs Holton Hill and Kris Boyd join LB Anthony Wheeler to make all four of Texas’ top signees defensive players and all three committed after Jefferson. That’s Malikmentum, folks. Strong also managed to flip receiver Ryan Newsome from UCLA on signing day.
– Texas Tech wasn’t far behind Texas in signing day drama, but the Red Raiders ruffled feathers inside the conference all day. Kliff Kingsbury swiped longtime TCU commit J.F. Thomas, a lanky, 6-foot-4, 180-pound receiver. They also grabbed his teammate, former Texas commit DB Jamile Johnson who decommitted from the Longhorns during a weekend visit to Lubbock. How’d that happen? This is a classic "Don’t hate the player, hate the game" situation. Their high school coach at South Oak Cliff, Emmett Jones, joined Texas Tech’s coaching staff on Sunday as the director of player development. Nice hustle on Kingsbury’s part. Any coach will tell you recruiting is all about relationships.
– Oklahoma finished a bittersweet Signing Day with a top 20 class of their own. The Sooners let offensive lineman Josh Wariboko get out of their backyard and sign with UCLA, but managed to flip safety Prentice McKinney from North Carolina on Wednesday. The Sooners expect him to contribute immediately, too.
– West Virginia didn’t seal the deal on Shaq Wilson, but grabbed two more additions to the class in ATH Gary Jennings and juco WR Ka’Raun White.
– Life is hard for any coach at Iowa State, but if you’re going to succeed, you have to do well with what talent is present within state lines. Paul Rhoads has done that. After signing Bryce Meeker today and five-star receiver Allen Lazard (who lived up to the hype last fall), he’s now beat out Iowa for the top player in the state for three consecutive seasons.
– Kansas State had to be happy to see Desoto native Bryce English spurn nearby TCU to join Bill Snyder’s 2015 class. The 330-pounder was the nation’s No. 30 defensive tackle became the fourth-highest rated signee in the Wildcats’ class.
– Oklahoma State added a pair of two-star talents in OL Marcus Keyes and DB Antwan Hadley on signing day.
Ranking the Big 12 classes:
1. Texas: The Longhorns ended up with Kai Locksley after quarterback drama this week, but Malik Jefferson is the gem of the class and already enrolled in classes. The Longhorns boast three signees in the Rivals100.
2. Oklahoma: Four of Oklahoma’s 14 four-star signees were already enrolled, but the Sooners got a great late addition in linebacker Arthur McGinnis out of New Orleans. The Sooners sit in 14th nationally and got a nice signing day boost by picking up McKinney.
3. West Virginia: The only annually interesting recruiting race in the Big 12 is usually who finishes third behind Texas and OU. This year, it’s the Mountaineers, who grabbed a pair of four stars from Miramar in DB Tyrek Cole and WR Jovon Durante, the class’ two top signees. WVU already has four-star signee QB David Sills on campus. The biggest disappointment was missing out on Shaq Wilson, who flipped from Georgia to WVU last week but flipped again and signed with Georgia.
4. Baylor: The Bears’ class is even stronger than it was last year, and quarterback Jarrett Stidham gives us all a chance to see what Art Briles can do with a truly elite talent at the position. He’s already on campus, too. The Bears signed another four-star in ATH J.W. Ketchum, who played quarterback in high school but will be a safety for the Bears. Four-star receiver Blake Lynch is on campus with Stidham, too. The Bears grabbed running back JaMycal Hasty from east Texas to round out a fourth four-star in the class.
5. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys were starved for a running back after Ronald Jones spurned them for USC and OSU got one in juco back Chris Carson, who flipped from Georgia last week. OSU nabbed four-star QB John Kolar out of Oklahoma’s backyard in Norman, and four-star DT Darrion Daniels signed Wednesday, giving OSU its highest-rated prospect. The most interesting tidbit about Mike Gundy’s class is Kolar, a lifelong Sooners fan and the nation’s No. 14 dual-threat quarterback, is the Cowboys’ only signee from Oklahoma. It’s no coincidence: Gundy reiterated Wednesday that 100 percent of Oklahoma State’s focus is in the state of Texas.
6. TCU: The Frogs missed out on five-star DT Daylon Mack, and lost a four-star offensive talent in WR J.F. Thomas who had been committed since April but flipped to Texas Tech on signing day. DB DeShawn Raymond, the Frogs’ top-ranked signee, is already on campus. The best sign for the Frogs: Only two of their 21 signees drew fewer than three stars from Rivals.com.
7. Texas Tech: Kliff Kingsbury has a couple big pickups to give his lines a lift in four-star OL Conner Dyer and DT Breiden Fehoko. Fehoko enrolled early, but Tech’s seven highest-rated signees behind him are all offensive players: Four receivers, two offensive linemen and a running back. The signing-day addition of WR J.F. Thomas gave Tech three four-stars in this class, but it joined Oklahoma in not signing a quarterback. Tech didn’t replace quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who flipped to Baylor in December after being committed to Texas Tech for most of the past year.
8. Kansas State: Four-star DB Duke Shelley highlights the Wildcats’ class, which also features 11 three-star signees. The Wildcats also only signed one junior college player to date, though coach Bill Snyder expects to eventually add two more to this class. So much for the K-State narrative this year.
9. Kansas: David Beaty had to scramble to piece Kansas’ class together and wound up with nine three-stars, including five who are already on campus. That’s good news for Beaty, who obviously has a lot of work to do in the coming months.
10. Iowa State: The Cyclones grabbed 10 three-star signees, including a signing day commitment from RB Sheldon Croney, though only one of the 10 enrolled early. The four top signees in Iowa State’s class are linemen who clock in at 275-plus pounds.
Here are a handful of names to keep an eye on. You can expect to hear their names a lot next fall.
1. Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas: Early returns from Jefferson in workouts at Texas have been strong. He’s lived upt to the hype as much as he could so far. Not only is Jefferson a giant talent, he walks into a strong scheme at Texas that can use him after Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond’s exits. If you don’t know his name yet, you will this fall.
2. Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma: It seems like Oklahoma has been thin at receiver forever. Westbrook might be able to help fix that. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound junior college transfers hails from Blinn College and enrolled early after finishing second nationally last year with 76 catches for 1,487 yards and 13 scores to earn All-American honors.
3. Chris Carson, RB, Oklahoma State: Tyreek Hill has been dismissed and he’s not coming back. Desmond Roland is gone. Rennie Childs is a good talent, but he needs a compliment and the Pokes were dying for a running back in this class. Carson answered the bell and figures to be more ready as a junior college talent. He’ll have opportunities and don’t be surprised if he leads OSU in rushing next fall.
4. Breiden Fehoko, DT, Texas Tech: Anyone who has watched Texas Tech in the last couple years sees how badly Tech needs upgrades along the line. Fehoko is a big one at 290 pounds and he’s already on campus and enrolled, ready for spring ball. He was the nation’s No. 122 overall prospect and with his pure strength, at least gives Tech a major plus in potential along the defensive line.
5. Chase Harrell/Emmanuel Moore, WRs, Kansas: Five of Kansas’ top six pass-catchers from an already razor-thin group of receivers are gone. Anybody who stands out will have an opportunity in Rob Likens’ offense in Lawrence. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Harrell offers some room for error for quarterbacks, too.
6. Kai Locksley, QB, Texas: Odds are against Locksley immediately coming to Austin and beating out Jerrod Heard and Tyrone Swoopes in fall camp, but the Longhorns are begging for someone to stand out. He’s raw as a passer, but if he can consistently complete passes and make plays with his feet, don’t rule him out as a talent who could find a home in Texas’ new hurry-up attack.
7. Rasul Douglas, DB, West Virginia: West Virginia seems to have great luck with young defensive backs. Karl Joseph, Dravon Henry and K.J. Dillon have all had early success in the secondary and there’s no reason Douglas won’t have some opportunities to do the same. Dana Holgorsen has done an outstanding job improving that unit in his last few recruiting classes.
8. J.F. Thomas, WR, Texas Tech: Thomas had a chance to make an impact in TCU’s wide-open offense, but even with a Tech unit that has better depth than TCU, the 6-4 target could standout
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