Big 12 powers Oklahoma and Texas are always luring elite talent. Even those mighty squads have to reload, however. Here's a look at the Big 12 team recruiting needs for the 2010 class.
Baylor signed three true freshmen and junior college transfer Byron Lander in the 2009 recruiting cycle, but Lander is a junior and the top four safety spots on the preseason depth chart are occupied by seniors. Keeping that in mind, the Bears should be in the market for at least one safety capable of pushing for playing time early in his career. Moreover, they might have found their man in 2010 commit Ahmad Dixon (Waco, Texas/Midway).
Starter Joe Pawelek is a senior, backup Earl Patin is a junior and Baylor's past two recruiting classes haven't included any inside linebacker prospects of note. Signing one or more in 2010 would give the Bears a year to groom them and some much needed depth. The Bears have made progress toward filling this need with the commitment of 2010 prospect Matt Ritchey (Big Springs, Texas/Big Springs).
It's worth pointing out that defensive tackle is also a pressing need for the Bears, and the reason corner is listed ahead of it is the explosive passing attacks the Bears face in this conference. Remember, five Big 12 teams finished in the top 10 in the FBS in average passing yards per game last season. With three of the top four corners being juniors and Baylor's failure to land a corner prospect of note the past two years, it's critical that the Bears start to address the position in the next year. 2010 commit Tyler Stephenson (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster), a four-star prospect, could be a big help.
These positions are linked because they are interchangeable in Colorado's system. Colorado did well to sign tight ends Ryan Deehan (Poway, Calif./Poway) and DaVaughn Thornton (Denver/East) this year. However, the remaining four tight ends and two fullbacks on the roster are all seniors, so the Buffaloes still have a great deal of work to do here. They have begun to address this need with the commitment of 2010 prospect Kyle Slavin (Littleton, Colo./Chatfield).
Mike inside linebacker
This position is stacked with upperclassmen, as starter Marcus Burton is a senior, backup Michael Sipili is a junior and No. 3 Bryan Stengel is a senior. The Buffaloes have done an excellent job of signing outside linebackers the past two years, and they could slide one inside, with 2008 signing Jon Major (Parker, Colo./Ponderosa) a likely possibility. However, Major appears to be the heir on the weak side, and more importantly, Colorado's run defense ranked ninth in average yards allowed per game in the Big 12 last year. With that in mind, the Buffaloes should be in the market for a true inside linebacker to strengthen their interior run defense.
Colorado has signed three corners in the past two years, but a Big 12 team can never have too many quality corners these days, and the Buffaloes would be wise to infuse some youth here. Why? There are two senior and two junior corners on the roster.
Missouri was the only Big 12 team to surrender more passing yards per game than Iowa State last season, and the Cyclones need to add depth at corner. 2008 signings Leonard Johnson (Largo, Fla./Largo) and Ter'Ran Benton (Mansfield, Texas/Summit) could both start at corner for the next three years. Meanwhile, three juniors and a senior occupy the top four spots at safety on the preseason depth chart. So even though the Cyclones have added three safeties during the past two years, they need to continue to target this position in 2010.
Turnover is the issue, as starter Jesse Smith and backup Derec Schmidgall are seniors. Adding to the concerns here, No. 3 Patrick Neal moved from tight end to linebacker this year. The Cyclones could fill this need by moving true freshmen Jake Knott (Waukee, Iowa/Waukee) or A.J. Klein (Kimberly, Wis./Kimberly) inside. But if the Cyclones take this approach, outside linebacker will become a top-three recruiting need.
Iowa State did well to land Jerome Tiller (San Antonio/Lee) in 2008, and he appears to be the heir to redshirt junior Austen Arnaud. In addition, the Cyclones signed James Capello (Lebanon, Pa./Lebanon) this year. On the flip side, there are no guarantees either will pan out, and Arnaud is the only one of the four quarterbacks on the roster who is an upperclassman. Signing a quarterback this year would give him a chance to learn the scheme so he could provide quality depth and ideally give Iowa State an insurance policy in 2011.
Three of the top six receivers on the roster are juniors, including Dezmon Briscoe, who could leave school early, and Kerry Meier is a senior. Additionally, 2008 signing Daymond Patterson (Garland, Texas/North Mesquite) will start at corner this season. Although he could line up at receiver, where he started two games last season, don't expect the Jayhawks to risk burning him out by playing him on offense too often. So even though Kansas signed two receivers during the 2009 recruiting cycle, it should again be in the market for perimeter playmakers. Thus far, the Jayhawks have added Ricki Herod (Garland, Texas/North Mesquite) to help fill this hole as part of their 2010 class.
During the past two years, Kansas has done a good job of addressing the outside linebacker position, where seniors occupy three of the top four spots on the depth chart. However, they have not signed any true freshman inside linebackers of note during that time. That is becoming reason for concern because starter Justin Springer and backup Drew Dudley are juniors. They have begun addressing this position with the commit of 2010 prospect Jimmay Mundine (Denison, Texas/Denison).
Kansas has signed five defensive ends of note during the past two years, but two of them are junior college transfers with just two years of eligibility remaining. Meanwhile, seniors occupy three of the top four spots on the depth chart, and Jake Laptad is a junior. Look for the Jayhawks to continue to add depth and infuse youth here as a result.
This unit is riddled with upperclassmen, as there are five senior and two junior receivers on the roster. Making matters worse, 2009 signing Tramaine Thompson (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) is the only true freshman wide receiver of note to join the team during the past two years. As a result, it's critical that the Wildcats sign a number of receivers, including one or two capable of pushing for playing time early in their careers.
Considering there are 23 defensive backs on the roster right now, this might not seem like a top-three need, but seven of those 23 are seniors, and another seven are juniors. It's also worth pointing out that the Wildcats finished eighth in the Big 12 in average passing yards allowed per game. Although cornerback is a bigger concern right now because the top three players at the position are all seniors, Kansas State needs to add depth and talent at both positions in the defensive backfield.
Turnover is an issue here as well, as there are two senior and two junior ends on the roster. Further complicating matters, 2008 signing Brandon Harold (East St. Louis, Ill./East St. Louis) has been sidelined indefinitely with an unspecified injury. Harold made an immediate impact last season and appears to have a bright future, but his absence from the lineup highlights the importance of bolstering the depth at this position. Look for the Wildcats to target defensive ends out on the recruiting trail.
Missouri signed Matt White (Keller, Texas/Keller) as part of its 2009 class, but he may never develop into an every-down player. That's reason for concern, because starter Hardy Ricks is a senior and backup Jarrell Harrison is a junior. It's also worth pointing out that no Big 12 team allowed more passing yards per game than Missouri last season, so the Tigers should be in the market for a safety who can push for playing time early in his career.
Missouri signed Robert Steeples (St. Louis/De Smet) and Kip Edwards (Arlington, Texas/Bowie) last year, but there's still work to do here. Why? Carl Gettis, Kevin Rutland and Munir Prince are all juniors, and again, the Tigers need to do a better job of defending the pass this season.
How can this be a need if the Tigers have signed eight receivers during the past two years? Starters Jared Perry and Danario Alexander are both seniors, while reserve Forrest Shock is a junior. Additionally, and arguably more importantly, Missouri runs a base three-receiver offense, which makes having depth and talent here that much more important.
Nebraska signed two safeties in 2008, and it did well to sign Dijon Washington (Lawndale, Calif./Leuzinger) this year. However, true freshmen Seth Jameson and Wil Richards are both walk-ons, as is redshirt freshman Brent Moravec. That's reason for concern because the top three safeties on the roster are seniors Larry Asante, Rickey Thenarse and Matt O'Hanlon. In addition, Eric Hagg is a junior. With all of that in mind, the Cornhuskers need to add depth and, more importantly, competition at the position.
Nebraska has signed three offensive guards during the past two years, including Brandon Thompson (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) in 2008. On the flip side, Keith Williams and Jacob Hickman are seniors, while D.J. Jones and Ricky Henry are juniors. As a result, the Cornhuskers should continue to target this position on the recruiting trail. The good news is that Nebraska's highest-rated 2010 commit comes from guard Andrew Rodriguez (Aurora, Neb./Aurora).
Nebraska signed two corners this year and one last year, but don't be surprised to see it continue to add depth and talent at the position. Why? Anthony West, Prince Amukamara and Dejon Gomes are all juniors, and again the Big 12 boasts some of the most explosive passing attacks in the country.
Oklahoma signed Stephen Good (Paris, Texas/Paris) in 2008 and Josh Aladenoye (Mesquite, Texas/North Mesquite) this year. However, Good is expected to start at right guard, and Aladenoye may be a better fit on the inside as well. That's reason for concern, because Trent Williams is a senior while both Cory Brandon and Jeff Vinson are juniors. The Sooners have secured commitments from tackles Tyrus Thompson (Pflugerville, Texas/Pflugerville) and Bronson Irwin Mustang, Okla./Mustang) in their 2010 class.
The Sooners landed one of the top defensive tackle prospects in the country when they signed Jamarkus McFarland (Lufkin, Texas/Lufkin) in the 2009 recruiting cycle, and they signed two defensive tackles in 2008. On the other hand, DeMarcus Granger and Cordero Moore are both seniors, while Gerald McCoy, who very well could leave school early for the NFL draft, and Adrian Taylor are both juniors. Because Oklahoma has to prepare for the possibility that McCoy could opt to move on at the end of the year, look for them to continue to add depth and talent here.
Starting MLB Ryan Reynolds, his backup Mike Balogun, starting strongside LB Keenan Clayton and his backup J.R. Bryant are all seniors. So even though the Sooners have signed six linebackers during the past two years, don't be surprised to see them continue to target this position.
The Cowboys signed Clint Chelf (Enid, Okla./Enid) in their 2009 class, and redshirt sophomore Brandon Weeden should compete for the starting job next year. However, Zac Robinson is a senior and Alex Cate is a junior. As a result, look for Oklahoma State to continue to make this position a recruiting priority. The Cowboys have secured a commitment from 2010 prospect Nathan Sorenson (Texarkana, Texas/Texas High).
Although the Cowboys signed two true freshman offensive tackle prospects in 2008 and one in 2009, both 2008 signings project as guards at this point, and that should have their fans a little unsettled. Why? Russell Okung, Brady Bond and Andrew Mitchell are all seniors, and Oklahoma State's inexperience at quarterback behind Robinson makes getting help here that much more important.
Oklahoma State signed Brodrick Brown (Spring, Texas/Westfield) in 2008 and Andrae May (Galena Park, Texas/North Shore) in 2009, but there's still plenty of work to do here. Perrish Cox, Terrance Anderson and Maurice Gray are all seniors, while Andrew McGee is a junior.
Although the Longhorns landed one of the top quarterback prospects in the country when they signed Garrett Gilbert (Austin, Texas/Lake Travis) this year, they need to continue to add talent and depth here. How come? Colt McCoy is a senior, while backups John Chiles and Sherrod Harris are both juniors. In addition, Gilbert is the only quarterback signing of note during the past two years. The Longhorns have gone a long way toward filling this void with commitments from 2010 prospects Connor Wood (Houston/Second Baptist) and Colt McCoy's brother Case McCoy (Graham, Texas/Graham).
Jared Norton is a senior, and backup Dustin Earnest is a junior. Although Texas signed Tariq Allen (Irving, Texas/MacArthur) this year, he may be a better fit on the outside. And even if Allen lines up in the middle, the Longhorns should look to add depth and competition here.
Texas has signed four offensive tackles during the past two years, including Paden Kelley (Austin, Texas/Lake Travis) this year, so why is this a need again? 2008 signing Mark Buchanan (Austin, Texas/Austin) is now listed at guard, and the top four offensive tackles are all upperclassmen.
Redshirt sophomore Ryan Tannehill is talented enough to push junior Jerrod Johnson for playing time, but it's an interesting situation. Why? Tannehill tore the labrum in his shoulder during the offseason, and he was the team's leading receiver last year. Making matters worse, 2008 signing Tommy Dorman (North Richland, Texas/Birdville) struggled in the spring, and he's the only quarterback signing of note from the past two years. The Aggies do have promising Jameill Showers (Killeen, Texas/Shoemaker) coming in as part of their 2010 class.
Lee Grimes, Vincent Williams and Michael Shumard are all seniors, while Lucas Patterson is a junior. Meanwhile, the Aggies have signed just one offensive tackle prospect in each of their past two classes. As a result, they need tackles capable of pushing for playing time early in their careers, in our opinion. Mike Sherman might have two players of that caliber, however. 2010 prospects Jake Matthews (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) and Luke Joeckel (Arlington, Texas) are among the most touted offensive tackles in the nation.
The top four spots on the depth chart are all occupied by upperclassmen, and Oklahoma State was the only Big 12 team to record fewer sacks than Texas A&M last year. It's also worth pointing out that Texas A&M's scheme features a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker called a "Jack," who frequently rushes the passer, and a traditional 4-3 defensive end lines up opposite the Jack. As a result, the Aggies need athletic and explosive ends as well as ends who are big enough to hold their own when teams run at them. So even though Texas A&M has signed four defensive end prospects during the past two years, it should continue to add depth and talent here.
The top four spots on the depth chart are all occupied by seniors. Making matters worse, 2008 signing Joey Fowler (Oklahoma City/Westmoore) is no longer with the team. So even though the Red Raiders have signed two ends during the past two years, they still need to add a great deal of depth and talent here.
Three of the top four defensive tackles on the depth chart are seniors, and Colby Whitlock is a junior. Adding to the concerns here, 2009 signing Pearlie Graves (Tulsa, Okla./East Central) is the school's only defensive tackle signing of note during the past two years. With all of that in mind, getting help here is a must. The commitment of 2010 prospect Coby Coleman (Frankston, Texas/Frankston) is a good start.
Starter Shawn Byrnes is a senior, and backup Justin Keown is a junior. Although the Red Raiders have done an excellent job of adding depth at offensive guard and they could slide one or more players inside to help fill this need, they should still be in the market for a true center prospect in 2011.
Steve Muench played four years of Division I-AA football before joining Scouts Inc. in 2002. He has evaluated both NFL and college players for Scouts Inc.