- Corey Long, Reporter, RecruitingNation
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With national signing day (Feb. 2) around the corner, here is a breakdown of how things are looking in the Big 12. Schools are listed in alphabetical order, not in order of their rank in the conference.
Overview: Half the class has been recruited to play along the front lines with five projected defensive linemen and five projected offensive linemen. The Bears rarely venture outside of Texas and this class is no different as all 20 players are in-state prospects.
Top prospect:Spencer Drango (Cedar Park, Texas/Cedar Park) is the highest-rated of the linemen in this class and definitely one of the most athletic tackles overall. The 6-6, 265-pounder will have to add some bulk but he's got the tools to be a strong offensive tackle.
Don't be surprised if: Jonathan Lee (Allen, Texas/Allen) turns out to be one of the best receiving prospects in the conference over the next few years. He has the ability to be a major red zone target as well as a consistent pass catcher. If Baylor can get him the ball often he'll make plays.
Overview: The Cyclones were looking for major upgrades on offense and the top seven players in the class are projected to play on that side of the ball. In one of the more odd recruiting situations, the Cyclones got commits from two players named Sam Richardson within 24 hours of each other.
Top prospect: DeVondrick Nealy (Monticello, Fla./Jefferson County) is a tremendous athlete that could play running back, slotback or defensive back for the Cyclones. He'll contribute immediately in the return game regardless.
Don't be surprised if: This class turns out to be a bit underrated. Wide receivers Tad Ecby (Houston, Texas/Saint Pius X) and Quenton Bundrage (Bradenton, Fla./Manatee) are two players that can contribute immediately and give the Cyclones offense a major shot in the arm. Overall the class is filled with sleepers that might be a little better than advertised.
Overview: This is a solid class for head coach Turner Gil in his first full recruiting cycle with the program. The program benefited from a coaching change in Colorado and a couple of other decommitments along the way. Gil is a solid recruiter and should be able to continue to build off of this group.
Top prospect: Darrian Miller (Blue Springs, Mo./Blue Springs) was an early commit that backed off for a few months but eventually came back into the fold and is now enrolled and on campus. The four-star prospect is one of the top offensive players in the Midwest.
Don't be surprised if: Quarterback Brock Berglund (Highlands Ranch, Colo./Valor Christian) gets every opportunity to see the field early. Kansas' quarterback play wasn't particularly strong in 2010 and without an undisputed No. 1 guy returning Berglund will be part of the competition to get on the field as a true freshman.
Overview: There's a lot of defensive linemen at the top of this class, they make up the top five positions. As always Kansas State is active with the junior college transfers and have seven in this class.
Top prospect: Former ESPNU 150 linebacker Arthur Brown had two lackluster years in Miami but the 6-1, 225-pounder will get a second chance at a school closer to home. Brown never seemed like a comfortable fit in Coral Gables so maybe things will be better at Kansas State.
Don't be surprised if: Junior college transfer quarterback Justin Tuggle gets the starting nod going into the 2011 season. With the graduation of Carson Coffman there's little experience at the quarterback position returning. Besides, some former transfer from Blinn College named 'Newton' had a pretty good season in 2010 so why not roll the dice on his successor?
Overview: Missouri made it a goal to get immediate help in the interior defensive line and are still looking at a few prospects to close out the class. This isn't a "sexy" class by any stretch but the Tigers are filling holes along the lines and at linebacker.
Top prospect: Junior college transfer Sheldon Richardson (St. Louis, Mo.) originally signed with the Tigers out of high school but looked as if he was headed to USC until about Thanksgiving. Now back with Missouri and on campus, Richardson is being penciled in as a starter on the defensive line.
Don't be surprised if: Missouri adds at least one more defensive tackle to this class. Christopher Cormier (Alief, Texas/Hastings) appears to be a strong candidate. At 315 pounds he could be another guy that can provide some immediate depth in the center of the defensive line.
Overview: What the Sooners class lacks in big numbers it more than makes up for in quality with six ESPNU 150 commits and five that played in the Under Armour All-American game.
Top prospect: Four-star running back Brandon Williams (Brookshire, Texas/Brookshire Royal) had comparisons of Adrian Peterson during his practice week at the Under Armor game. Originally committed to Baylor, Williams switched to in April and has the potential to join the long line of great running backs to come through Norman.
Don't be surprised if: Defensive line recruits Nathan Hughes (Klein, Texas/Klein Oak) and Jordan Wade (Round Rock, Texas/Stony Point) continue the tradition of first-round draft picks to come through Oklahoma. There are visions of these two talents terrorizing opposing backfields for the next 3-4 years.
Overview: Make no mistake about it, Oklahoma State came into this recruiting cycle with a heavy focus on Texas and deliver. The top 10 (12 actually) players in this class are all from the Lone Star State. Even with 26 commits the Cowboys could be looking to add a couple more.
Top prospect: ESPNU 150 running Herschel Sims (Abilene, Texas/Abilene) gets a lot of the publicity, but don't look past quarterback J.W. Walsh (Denton, Texas/Guyer). The 6-2, 195-pounder could easily become the gem of this class.
Don't be surprised if: Oklahoma State is finished with this recruiting class. The Cowboys staff is entertaining a couple of visitors this weekend and would like another defensive tackle but there's a good chance that the class as is will be the final number.
Overview: When Mack Brown comes calling a recruit in the state of Texas there's a good chance the player will answer and commit. Much of this class was finished during spring and the Longhorns spent much of the season atop ESPN's team rankings. With the defection of top offensive lineman Christian Westerman to Auburn, the class loses a little steam.
Top prospect: Texas fans have to hope five-star running back Malcolm Brown (Cibolo, Texas/Steele) is the answer to the program's recent problems developing a feature running back. Brown has the size and speed that you only see out of the elite running backs and he's going to get on the field early.
Don't be surprised if: the expectations for this class are higher than usual. There's always a lot of pressure on the players in the Texas program to perform but coming off of the program's worst season in the Mack Brown era there will be a bigger emphasis on this class to quickly help turn things around.
Overview: Unlike most of the conference, Texas A&M is filling slots late in the process. The Aggies recently got the commit of defensive back Floyd Raven (Reserve, La./East St. John) but saw linebacker Leilon Willingham (Denver, Colo/Mullen) back out of his verbal. On Wednesday, however, Raven decided to switch back to Ole Miss and said he was never committed to Texas A&M to begin with.
Top prospect: With Raven out of the fold the honor goes to kicker Taylor Bertolet (Reading, Pa./Exeter Township). After all he did kick the game-winning field goal in the Under Armour All-America Game.
Don't be surprised if: the Aggies have to go all in to keep commitment Shaun Ward (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla./Boyd Anderson). The 6-1, 225-pounder was recently offered by Florida and has also caught the interest of Texas Tech. Both programs will try to pry Ward away from the Aggies until he signs his letter of intent.
Overview: Despite a strong class headlined by the recent commitment of ESPNU 150 defensive back Marcus Roberson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), there is still another big weekend for the Red Raiders and they could either make gains or suffer a loss come national signing day.
Top prospect: If Roberson's commitment is solid (he says it's 50-50) then this is a terrific get for Texas Tech. The 6-0, 175-pounder has is versatile enough to play either corner or safety and has the awareness and ball skills to excel at either position if he sticks.
Don't be surprised if: Texas Tech gets linebacker Kent Turene (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla./Boyd Anderson) to make an official visit but the linebacker ends up at Georgia. ESPNU 150 wide receiver Rashad Greene (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) might also trip to Lubbock this weekend. Neither are expected to switch but give Texas Tech's staff credit for getting these top recruits to visit their campus late in the process.
Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Big 12 is full of solid recruiting classes but Oklahoma and Texas are in a league of their own, writes Corey Long.