On the biggest day in college football’s offseason, the Big 12 put itself in good position to stay on the heels of the Southeastern Conference as the two best football conferences in the country. Depending on which national rating service you pay attention to, the Big 12 signed the second best recruiting class on Wednesday, as 2014 recruitung classes became official on National Signing Day in college football.
Alabama and the SEC were the big winners on National Signing Day on Wednesday. Six of the top 10 recruiting classes and four of the top five, according to the recruiting information and rating service Scout.com, were teams from the SEC. The Big 12 didn’t place any teams in the top 10, but Scout.com has four Big 12 teams ranked in the top 25, headed by Okalhoma’s 2014 recruiting class at No. 13, one spot ahead of Oklahoma State.
This is the second consecutive year that no team from the Big 12 finished in the top 10 in the recruiting class rankings.
The SEC dominance in this years college recruiting was also abundantly evident in the individual player rankings. Six of the top 10 overall recruits in the ESPN 300 list signed with SEC schools, with Alabama picking off three of the top 10. The highest-ranked player recruited by a Big 12 school, according to the ESPN player rankings, was a wide-receiver prospect, KD Cannon, out of Mt. Pleasant, Texas, who signed with Baylor. Cannon was No. 30 in the ESPN 300 and the No. 5 wide receiver in the class according to Scout.com.
Cannon was one of six Baylor commitments in the Bears’ 2014 class at the wide-receiver position, a position that has been a major strength and a big factor for Baylor’s success in recent years. In past seasons, Baylor has produced some of the best receivers in the country in Josh Gordon, Kendall Wright and Terrance Williams, all three now in the NFL.
Oklahoma was credited with bringing in the top recruiting class among the Big 12 schools for the second year in a row. The Sooners signed a class of 26, with three players ranked in the ESPN Top 100. The Sooners brought in one five-star recuit, running back Joe Mixon out of Southern California, and six four-star prospects (three wide receivers, a quarterback, an offensive tackle and a safety) , according to Scout.com Mixon is one of three talented running backs who committed to the Sooners, giving them the No. 2 class in the country for running backs.
The Oklahoma State recruiting class was ranked No. 14 by Scout.com (No. 28 by ESPN). The Cowboys’ top recruit is five-star running back Tyreek Hill, a 5-10, 185-pounder who comes from the junior college ranks and is described as having “breathtaking” speed similar to that of former West Virginia all-purpose back Tavon Austin. Among Oklahoma State’s seven four-star recruits are three defensive lineman and the country’s 10th best class at that position. The Cowboy coaches are also high on three-star quarterback recruit Mason Rudolph, a 6-4 passing quarterback who threw for more than 4,000 yards and 41 touchdowns for his high school in North Carolina and completed 70 percent of his passes.
Texas, which has been ranked first or second in Big 12 recruiting classes in seven of the past 10 years, ranked third in the Big 12 in 2014 and No. 15 on the Scout.com top-25 list. The Longhorns, who have not had real good stability at quarterback the past few seasons, went looking for a talented prospect to bring in at the position in this year’s recruiting class, and new head coach Charlie Strong and his assistants feel they got their man in five-star prospect Jerrod Heard, a 6-2, 190-pound QB out of Denton, Texas. Scout.com rates Heard as the second-best quarterback available nationally in this year’s recruiting class.
The Longhorns also signed a top 100 defensive end, Derek Roberson, from San Antonio. Of the 23 UT commitments, 13 are offensive players and 10 on the defensive side. Texas also believes it again did very well in the running-back department with this signing class. Four-star prospect Donald Catalon, who some experts believe was the top high-school running back in the state of Texas, out of Houston, heads a group of three running backs in Texas’ 2014 class.
Defending conference champion Baylor finished 23rd in the Scout.com top 25 classes. According to ESPN, the Bears signed the nation’s sixth-best wide-receiver class. In addition to Cannon, head coach Art Briles nabbed a five-star receiver, Davion Hall, who along with Cannon ranked as one of ESPN’s top 40 recruits overall, at No. 38. Baylor brought in six receivers in its 2014 recruiting class. Scout.com may have rated the Bear’s 2014 receiver class as the sixth best in the country, but Briles feels his new group of receivers rates at the top of the class.
“”The thing that we feel really good about is that we signed the No. 1 class in America -I don’t feel that’s up for debate – and we feel that we filled all the other areas we needed in this signing class.”
Texas Tech, which regularly brings talented young quarterbacks into its pass-heavy offensive system, did not break tradition this year. Four-star QB Patrick Mahomes is an in-state recruit from Whitehouse, Texas, heads a 2014 class that includes eight defensive backs, four of them four-star prospects. Scout.com has the Red Raiders as the eighth-best class in the country for defensive backs.
Kansas State and Kansas again invented heavily in recruits from the junior college ranks. Kansas State is generally among the lower-ranked recruiting classes in the Big 12 (this year they were ninth in the conference rankings and rated 56th nationally by both Scout.com and ESPN), but head coach Bill Snyder has been a master at finding talented JC players, developing them and putting them in position toi succeed on the football field. He has done it repeatedly at the quarterback position, and with great success.
Kansas State’s 2014 class includes two four-star prospects: a defensive tackle, Terrell Clinkscales, from Dodge City, Kan, and another in-state recruit, Devonta Derricott from Garden City.
Some believe that this year’s 28-member recruiting class at K-State could be the best one in a number of years. Nine of the new recruits are from junior college and the rest are high school players. “A bunch of those guys are ranked extremely high by ESPN,” Snyder said in an interview with The Kansas City Star. “There are 13 of our guys who are ranked in their positions in the top 44 in the country. That doesn’t mean a whole lot to me. That doesn’t mean it will be a great class or a bad class or anything else.
“It’s our belief that they are all quality young people and quality young players,” the K-State coach added.”But the proof is in the pudding.”
Kansas head coach Charlie Weis went heavy on junior-college players a year ago, signing 16 in 2013, and he added eight more to the Jayhawks’ 2014 recruiting class, ranked 10th in the Big 12 and No. 62 nationally.
West Virginia (6), Texas Tech (9) and Iowa State (7) also recruited heavily in the junior college ranks.
Big 12 Conference 2014 Recruiting Class Team Rankings
(National rankings in parentheses)
1. Oklahoma (13)
2. Oklahoma State (14)
3. Texas (15)
4. Baylor (23)
5. Texas Tech (37)
6. TCU (38)
7. West Virginia (40)
8. Iowa State (52)
9. Kansas State (56)
10. Kansas (62)