Big 12 South recruiting breakdown
The Big 12 South was well represented on Saturdays last fall, highlighted by Texas' berth in the BCS National Championship Game. Heading into signing day, the Longhorns exemplify similar excellence off the field. Texas sits at No. 2 in our rankings and in any other year this class would vie for the top overall spot. Texas isn't the only team in the Big 12 South looking at a top-10 ranking on signing day. Oklahoma finished just outside last year, but the Sooners could make a push toward a top-5 ranking in 2010. Mack Brown and Bob Stoops have created stability amongst their prominent programs and continue to collect the top talent in the recruiting hotbed of Texas.
Texas A&M shows just how vast that talent in the state actually is in 2010. Maybe the surprise team on the recruiting trail this year, the Aggies' class, rated in the top 15, is almost completely comprised of Texas natives -- including four ESPNU 150 prospects. Out of the 22 committed ESPNU 150 players residing in Texas, the in-state Aggies and Longhorns combine for 16 pledges.
It was not a great fall for Bears fans with the loss of quarterback Robert Griffin and only mustering one conference win. However, Art Briles continues to bring in the right pieces to put around the talented signal-caller upon his return. Offensive tackle Troy Baker (Waco, Texas/Connally) is a 6-foot-7, fundamentally sound and versatile lineman. Receiver Antwan Goodley (Midland, Texas/Midland) can basically line up at any of the skill positions and create mismatches with his great quickness, feet and acceleration. Plus, we feel Baylor has one of the better and more underrated corners in the country in Tyler Stephenson (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster) and don't forget about Under Armour All-American defensive back Prince Kent (Norcross, Ga./Hargrave Military Academy) who spent the past year at Hargrave Military Academy.
Top prospect: Defensive back is a position of need for Baylor with the explosive passing offenses it sees each week in the Big 12 and the Bears got a great corner in Stephenson and a safety in Ahmad Dixon (who recently just recommitted). The explosive Stephenson has the great footwork needed to mirror receivers tightly, leaping skills to defend the jump ball and burst to close in zone schemes. Dixon is one of the more scheme-versatile defensive backs in the entire country.
Don't be surprised if: Top-25 tight end Zach Swanson (Katy, Texas/Katy), a member of Katy High's back-to-back 5A state championship teams, signs with the Bears.
The Sooners have closed well down the stretch, landing ESPN's No. 4-rated athlete Tony Jefferson (Chula Vista, Calif./Eastlake) and four-star wideout Kenny Stills (Carlsbad, Calif./La Costa Canyon). Prolific dual-threat quarterback Blake Bell (Wichita, Kan./Bishop Carroll) could be the future under center in Norman. With TE Austin Haywood (Moore, Okla./Southmoore) and WR Sheldon McClain (Cibolo, Texas/Steele), he'll have plenty of capable targets to utilize. The Sooners also added four-star RB Brennan Clay (San Diego/Scripps Ranch), who is a very talented, versatile back. On the defensive side of the ball, the Sooners brought in athletic safety Quentin Hayes (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster), one of 16 OU recruits from Texas. Plus, athlete Justin McCay (Shawnee Mission, Kan./Bishop Miege) is good enough to play on either side of the ball in our opinion.
Top prospect: Despite recently dropping out of our overall top 10, Jefferson is still one of the most explosive defenders in this class. While a tweener safety/linebacker, we feel this future Sooner's best attribute may actually be his scheme versatility throughout the back seven and big-play ability thanks to his excellent closing burst.
Don't be surprised if: Four-star recruit Eric Humphrey (Dallas/Parish Episcopal) develops into a valuable swingman on the defensive line early for defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
The Cowboys continue to win and create national exposure around their program without top-25 recruiting classes and headline names. This year, however, we have seen the success pay off in regard to its depth and quality of prospects. The Cowboys have more than doubled their collective number of high three-star prospects and have also continued their trend of landing a significant ESPNU 150 prospect. This year it's instinctive linebacker Shaun Lewis (Missouri City, Texas/Hightower), but he isn't their only highly ranked linebacker prospect. The Cowboys scooped up a pair of stout, top-15 inside linebackers out of Texas in Caleb Lavey (Celina, Texas/Celina) and Kris Catlin (San Antonio, Texas/James Madison). We felt coach Mike Gundy needed to bring in a young quarterback to develop in this class and they have one in polished top-15 signal-caller Nathan Sorenson (Texarkana, Texas/Texarkana). The defensive line gets a boost with in-state stud Calvin Barnett (Tulsa, Okla./Booker T. Washington), the top-rated defensive tackle in Oklahoma.
Top prospect: Lewis is one of the more underrated linebackers in this class and a prospect you appreciate on film more than in a combine setting. The Texas native lacks ideal size and speed measurables, but he makes quick, decisive reads between the tackles with sharp inside-out angles. He could be a player who sees the field early, at least on special teams.
Don't be surprised if: The Cowboys sign versatile defensive back Tre'Vante Porter (Midwest City, Okla./Carl Albert), who recently decommitted from Texas Tech due to the coaching change.
Recruiting can be simple in Austin. Offer all the top junior prospects in Texas following signing day (most of whom you have seen in person at your camp), and get commitments on the spot from the majority. The Longhorns have the No. 2 class in the country and for good reason. The defensive line is the strength of this class, which is headlined by four-star DTs Taylor Bible (Denton, Texas/Guyer) and Ashton Dorsey (Tyler, Texas/John Tyler), the No. 2 and 4 ranked positional prospects in the country. Mack Brown also added some secondary depth, landing a pair of top-15 rated cornerback prospects in Adrian White (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto) and Carrington Byndom (Lufkin, Texas/Lufkin). On offense, the Longhorns impressively added ESPN's No. 2 and 3 rated receivers Mike Davis (Dallas/Skyline) and Darius White (Fort Worth, Texas/Dunbar). Ultra-athlete Demarco Cobbs (Tulsa, Okla./Central) will also give quarterback Garrett Gilbert another immediate weapon on offense.
Top prospect: We thought Davis was underrated entering the Under Armour All-America Game and he went out and proved all week in front of a national audience that he was one of the best at his position in the country. His sharp, polished route-running skills, burst out of his breaks and great hands really stood out. Davis had a big fall for one of the top programs in the state of Texas, including a 263-yard playoff performance.
Don't be surprised if: Texas ends up signing in-state defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat (Plano, Texas/Plano West), or Ohio linebacker Jordan Hicks (Westchester, Ohio/Lakota West), ESPN's No. 2 and 4 overall prospects.
The wins are not adding up yet for Mike Sherman in College Station, but the former NFL head coach is proving he can recruit at the college level. A&M has a deep and quality class and it looks like the Aggies are focusing on improving their O-line -- five of their 20 commits are linemen, including four-star OTs Jake Matthews (Missouri City, Texas/Elkins) and Luke Joeckel (Arlington, Texas/Arlington). Matthews, the son of NFL Hall of Fame OL Bruce Matthews, is a stout run-blocker, but his best asset is as a pass-blocker. Joeckel, a 6-6, 280-pound Under Armour All-American, has great physical tools to mold. On defense, the Aggies landed this class' No. 3 outside linebacker in Corey Nelson (Dallas/Skyline), who can make plays sideline to sideline. Keep your eye on defensive back Toney Hurd Jr. (Missouri City, Texas/Thurgood Marshal), who is the Aggies' fourth ESPNU 150 member. He is an underachiever with great savviness and ball-hawking skills.
Top prospect: Nelson is still a bit raw at the position in terms of read and recognition skills, but one thing's for sure -- this guy can flat out run and hit. He's a great vertical attacker and blitzer as well as sideline-to-sideline pursuer. This was a major land for A&M over Texas and several other more prominent programs.
Don't be surprised if: Matthews and Joeckel get pushed into the fire early because offensive tackle is an area of pressing need for the Aggies.
Despite the firing of Mike Leach and the overall turmoil surrounding the program, Texas Tech's promising 2010 class has basically stayed intact. Under Armour All-American defensive end Jackson Richards (Southlake, Texas/Carroll) and receiver Kadron Boone (Ocala, Fla./Trinity Catholic) are upper-tier prospects inherited by recently hired head coach Tommy Tuberville. The former Auburn coach looks to sign another talented Florida receiver in Shawn Corker (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons) and a speedy zone runner in Delans Griffin (Clinton, Okla/Clinton). Most of the Red Raiders' current offensive commits were a nice fit for Leach's high-flying offense, but newly hired coordinator Neal Brown from Troy employs a prolific passing attack, as well.
Top prospect: We are still a bit surprised the Red Raiders were able to pluck one of the top receivers out of Florida in Boone. What he lacks in top-end speed, he makes up for in savviness and good physicality. He can simply get open, pluck most balls thrown in his vicinity and make something after the catch with good elusiveness.
Don't be surprised if: The Red Raiders lose one offensive skill prospect down the stretch due to the hiring of the defensive-minded Tuberville.
Billy Tucker is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. and has close to a decade of coaching experience at the college and high school levels.
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