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National Signing Day Impact on the Big XII Conference

National Signing Day is one of the more exciting days of the year for college football fans around the country.  While there was a tremendous amount of talent acquired throughout multiple conferences within the FBS and beyond, the Big 12 conference was certainly among many conferences that got better on National Signing Day.

The following is an analysis of the top recruits for all 10 Big 12 conference teams.

 

Baylor

The Baylor Bears continue to bring in exceptional talent at wide receiver, bolstering their wide receiving corps by adding one of the more talented wide receiver classes in the country. The strong safety position also needed to be filled with the departure of former four-star recruit Ahmad Dixon.

 

WR KD Cannon (Mount Pleasant) is arguably the star of the Bears’ recruiting class grading out as a four-star recruit and the top wide receiver prospect in the state of Texas. Cannon brings outstanding body control, superb hands and tremendous open-field running to Art Briles aerial attack. He will certainly be presented with an opportunity to play early in his collegiate career.

 

ATH/WR Davion Hall (Liberty-Eylau) regarded as one of the more versatile players in Baylor’s 2014 recruiting class as he was also rated as the nations eighth best Safety. On National Signing Day, Art Briles did express that he intends to utilize Hall at the wide receiver position.  With his undeniable burst and ball skills wrapped in his 6’2 frame, Baylor can’t go wrong whether they decide to play him on offense or defense.

 

WR Ishmael Zamora (Alief Elsik) graded out as a four-star recruit but is considered a late bloomer with tremendous upside as he played in a run heavy attack at Alief Elsik. At 6’3 201 lbs. he boasts a 4.49 40 time. His athleticism is further evidenced by his accomplishments in the hurdles as well as the long jump. As far as raw ability and size, he reminds many of former Baylor wide receiver Josh Gordon. Only time will tell if he lives up to the lofty comparison.

 

WR Chris Platt (Willis) is the most explosive receiver out of the bunch with legit sub 4.4 speed in the 40.  With a personal best of 47.06 in the 400 meters, he is a 3 time state champion in the event. Platt might be able to contribute as a return-man immediately while polishing his skills at the wide receiver position. While watching his high school highlights, it’s very difficult not to compare Platt to another Baylor speedster, Tevin Reese.

 

S T’Kevian Rockwell (Wylie) will likely replace Ahmad Dixon who is now preparing for the 2014 NFL draft. While he comes without the fanfare Dixon had coming into the Baylor program he is a dynamic player in his own right. At 6’0 202 lbs. Rockwell possesses 4.4 speed and has run 10.47 in the 100m dash which indicates he has all the ability to get redline to redline, giving Baylor’s defense a ton of flexibility. This type of fluidity and athleticism is a rarity at the Safety position and I look forward to watching him play on Saturdays.

 

Iowa State

With the addition of new Offensive Coordinator Mark Mangino and a four-star wide receiver, the Cyclones will look to move the football more consistently on the offensive end in 2014. Iowa State also obtained a great deal of talent in the secondary, which was much needed, with the departures of FS, Jacques Washington and SS, Deon Broomfield.

 

WR Allen Lazard (Urbandale) was recruited by the likes of Notre Dame, Iowa, Nebraska and Stanford, Lazard chose Iowa State to call his home for the next four years. At 6’5 208 Lbs. he does not possess blazing speed but his height, leaping ability and body control enable him to highpoint the football on vertical routes rather consistently. Lazard will have every opportunity to earn early playing time. Pairing him with the Cyclones current No. 1 wide receiver Quenton Bundrage would form a formidable duo at the positon.

 

S Victor Holmes (La Porte) is known as a versatile athlete with 4.4 speed in the 40, Holmes arrives at Ames with experience at running back, wide receiver and even some wildcat QB. With that said, Holmes will likely line up at FS for the Cyclones where his experience on the offensive side of the football will serve him well. While his skill set suggests that he might be able to contribute on offense, he projects as a center fielding free safety.

 

DE Dalyou Pierson (Pasadena City JC) displays cat like quickness off the ball, leading the SCFA in sacks with 11.5. He also managed to make 19 impact plays (tackles behind the line of scrimmage) for Pasadena City Junior College. He would finish the 2013 season with 48 tackles. The 6’4 270 LB. defensive end combines outstanding size with excellent athleticism. I certainly look forward to seeing him wreak havoc on offensive lineman for many Saturdays to come.

 

S Devron Moore (Northeastern Oklahoma A&M JC) is another safety with center fielding ability. With very good size at 6’0 195 Lbs. he possesses 4.45 speed in the 40-yard dash. He also displays solid footwork, which enables him to drive on the football. With this recruiting class, it is clear that the Cyclones wish to make more plays in the secondary.

 

OLB Reggan Northrup (First Coast) is younger brother of Florida State’s Reggie Northrup, Reggan comes loaded with tons of untapped potential as he only began taking football seriously as a junior in high school. While he is slated to play OLB for the Cyclones, he also played defensive end as a situational pass rusher. Northrup possesses athleticism that frankly Iowa State has not had at the OLB position for quite some time. He’s a run and hit type linebacker that flows sideline to sideline effortlessly. Look for him to make his name known across the Big 12 conference.

Kansas

While Kansas is no stranger to scouring the junior college level for talent, the 2014 class might be the most talent Weis and company has brought in from the high school ranks. Replacing senior running back James Sims was high on Kansas’ list of priorities and they were able to do so by signing two very talented four-star running backs.

 

RB Traevohn Wrench (Gardner Edgerton) was the first of the two four-star running backs to commit to Kansas shows outstanding patience and ability to create behind the line of scrimmage. Though he might not possess great top end speed he is able to break long runs, as he is well adept at setting up blocks. Vision and patience are his key attributes and it is very possible that he could see a great deal of playing time as a true freshman.

 

RB Corey Avery (Carter) doesn’t possess great size at 5’11 180 Lbs. Avery runs behind his pads extremely well and demonstrates greater than average power, balance and leg drive. There is plenty of room for him to add weight to his 5’11 frame which will make his style of play much more commensurate with his body type at the collegiate level. The Jayhawks gained commitment from this prized recruit over the likes of Texas, Nebraska and Ohio State. Avery and Wrench will likely form a formidable 1-2 punch for Kansas.

 

OLB Kyron Watson (East St. Louis) is one of the more instinctive linebackers in the entire Big 12 2014 recruiting class, Watson shows tremendous promise filling against the run as well as in coverage. He’s also a wrap up tackler who rarely gives up additional yardage after contact. Weis and his staff are very excited about Watson and it is likely that he will see quality snaps this season.

 

OC Jacob Bragg (Nacogdoches) possesses very good movement skill at his size Bragg is being recruited as a center but could very be moved over to guard. Though he might not possess the strength to be a “mauler” at this point in his career, his combination of size and agility is enough to keep defenders at bay at least early in his collegiate career.

 

DT D.J. Williams (Lufkin) is a stout defender at the point of attack, Williams projects as a 0 technique. He flashes ability to make impact plays on occasion but his contribution will likely be made as a two-gapper in the Jayhawks 3-4 scheme. Though he doesn’t possess the type of quickness to consistently make plays behind the line of scrimmage, his power along with his frame will allow linebackers to flow freely to the football.

 

Kansas State

Known for gathering commitments from top junior college prospects, Kansas State was able to sign the nations top junior college quarterbacks Jake Waters a year ago. It is no surprise that three of the five top signees for the Wildcats are former junior college players. Kansas State set out to address the trenches on both sides of the football with this recruiting class and they were very successful in doing so.

 

DT Terrell Clinkscales (Dodge City CC) is more than likely a future nose tackle that is well adept at collapsing the pocket and providing pressure up the middle. Clinkscales is more of a space eater who isn’t going to make too many impact plays behind the line of scrimmage but he will be very difficult for the opposition to move him off the ball.

 

OC Dalton Risner (Wiggins) displays excellent footwork in pass protections and demonstrates some pulling ability as well. He is a finisher in the run game and plays with a degree of nastiness that you’d like to see along the interior. Risner has the ability to redirect but will need to become more consistent with sinking his hips and bending at the knees as opposed to bending at the waist.

 

OLB D’Vonta Derricott (Garden City CC) is a very athletic linebacker who excels in coverage and demonstrates an ability to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks as a situational pass rusher. Though he possesses a body for an FBS conference such as the Big 12 at 6’1 230 Lbs. he should look to improve upon his leverage and his hands in an effort to improve upon his ability to stack and shed blockers at the point of attack. A linebacker as “rangy” and athletic as Derricott is absolutely going to serve the Wildcats well.

 

OT Alec Ruth (Valor Christian) is a nasty run blocker with very nimble feet he’s also no slouch in pass protection as well. Ruth plays with a mean streak, which enables him to finish blocks rather consistently. Once he locks on to his man, they typically don’t get any movement, which speaks to Ruth’s underrated physical strength. While he might need to gain more weight, his functional strength on the field is quite evident. I can certainly see Ruth making an impact for his new team sooner rather than later.

 

WR Andre Davis (Santa Rosa JC) brings tremendous skill as an open field runner, precision route running and outstanding ability as a return man to Kansas State.  His start and stop ability and leg drive makes him very difficult to corral after the catch. While he might not possess great top end speed, expect for him to make his fair share of big plays for the Wildcats as a result of his superior change of direction.

 

Oklahoma

Oklahoma finished last season with a win over Alabama that rejuvenated the Oklahoma football program. Subsequently the school saw a surge in popularity that ultimately helped them land a couple prized recruits.

 

RB Joe Mixon (Freedom) is an angular back that is more of a downhill runner but is also well adept at finding cutback lanes. While he doesn’t possess great long speed, he does have good acceleration, which allows him to set up blocks and create rushing lanes behind the line of scrimmage. Mixon will need to run consistently with greater pad level but he has shown the ability to lower his pads on contact when necessary.

 

ATH Michiah Quick (Central East) was recruited heavily by both Alabama and Oklahoma, Quick watched the outcome of the Sugar Bowl very intently. With Oklahoma coming through with the victory, it certainly had an impact on his decision. While he played multiple positions in high school, he will likely play receiver but might see a fair share of touches out of the backfield as well.  Quick has the type of ability to come in and make an impact on his team at least in the return game rather early in his collegiate career.

 

Dual Threat QB Justice Hansen (Edmond Santa Fe) is a dual threat quarterback, make no mistake about it Hansen is indeed a quarterback 1st with the ability to make throws at nearly every level.  His mobility serves as an aid extend plays giving his receivers more time to get open when plays break down. Many view Hansen as a player that can change the fortunes of a program and Oklahoma is very fortunate to have landed such a talent.

 

S Steven Parker II (Jenks) will likely become more of a center fielding free safety, for Oklahoma. Parker has outstanding range and tracks the football tremendously well. The 6’2 175 Lbs. star also has the quickness to drop down and cover slot receivers and his height enables him to matchup with tight ends as well. While he can certainly stand to improve as a tackler, he has all the skill necessary to become a playmaker consistent playmaker in the secondary. The Sooners win over Alabama was likely  a huge part of why he eventually chose Oklahoma.

 

RB Samaje Perine (Hendrickson) was heavily recruited by both Oklahoma and Alabama was Samaje Perine. A four-star RB with very good vision and ability to create behind the line of scrimmage Perine has emerged as an excellent downhill runner who runs behind his pads exceptionally well. He does not possess great top end speed but he is an attacking style back that certainly knows how to press the hole in an effort to maximize yardage. He won’t hit many homeruns, but he can certainly become a volume carry back that keeps an offense on schedule and routinely picks up chunks of yardage.

Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State will lose a pair of senior linebackers in Caleb Lavey and Shaun Lewis who were instrumental in the Cowboys 10-3 record in 2013. Replacing them was certainly a pressing need and they were able to do so when they received commitment from a four-star linebacker out of the state of Oklahoma.

 

Pocket Passing QB Mason Rudolph (Northwestern) is labeled as a pocket passer Rudolph does have ability to make plays outside of the pocket occasionally.  He’s very accurate but struggles to hone in on his targets while on the move. Possessing very good but not great arm strength, he certainly has the ability to make every throw on the football field.

 

RB Devon Thomas (Broken Arrow) is a one cut and go type of back with good but not great speed. He shows very good patience and solid wiggle to vary speeds and occasionally get around end. Thomas is a north south running back who can attack the line of scrimmage in a hurry. He also possesses excellent leg drive making him very difficult to bring down.

 

OLB Gyasi Akem (Broken Arrow) brings excellent speed to the linebacker position but has demonstrated the hands and physicality necessary to hold up at the point of attack. He’s also fluid enough to hold up in coverage against tight ends and running backs.

 

ATH Tyreek Hill (Garden City CC) will likely see playing time at the running back position, however he is a very capable receiver who has the ability to operate out of the slot as well. While he possesses very good top end speed he is certainly quicker than he is fast. Hill also shows tremendous ability to make defenders miss in the open field as well as maximizing yardage behind the line of scrimmage with his lateral quickness and vision. Whether he’s line up at receiver or running back, I’m sure we’ll see the ball in his hands early and often.

 

 DE Jordan Brailford (Booker T. Washington) combines high energy and effort with adequate explosion and above average hand usage, Brailford emerged as a four-star recruit with offers from Baylor and Kansas State. While he is not overly explosive he’s able to get off blocks and finds himself consistently around the football. Though he will need to continue to work on his lateral quickness, I have a hard time believing he won’t develop into a very good starter for the Cowboys.

                                               

 

TCU

Over the years, TCU football has become known for its ability to stockpile talent at the skill positions on a consistent basis. Their ability to reload at running back, wide receiver and quarterback is further evidenced by the 2014 recruiting class.

 

RB Shaun Nixon (Lake Travis) displays excellent vision behind the line of scrimmage and also sets up and reads his blocks extremely well along the interior as well as on the perimeter. He also displays exceptional quickness in and out of cuts, which allows him to make defenders miss in the backfield as well as at the second level.  Nixon is a true multi-purpose back with excellent hands out of the backfield as well as the slot.

 

Pocket Passer QB Foster Sawyer (All Saints Episcopal) possesses a big arm and is capable of making all the requisite throws at the FBS level. Though he has outstanding arm strength, he will certainly need to work on ball placement and anticipation. Sawyer has decent movement skills and can extend plays on occasion but he will make his living in the pocket on Saturdays.

 

 

WR Corey McBride (Duchtown) Is one of the faster players in a straight line in the entire 2014 recruiting class. McBride is a size/ speed guy with a very bright future. He possesses the ability to separate and also has hands to compete for contested balls. His length gives him a tremendous catching radius and he also demonstrates the ability to run through the catch on crossing patterns. Look for McBride to compete for playing time fairly early in his collegiate career.

 

WR Emanuel Porter (Lincoln) gives TCU another speedster with great size as he is listed at 6’3. Recruited by the likes of LSU and Texas he possesses outstanding acceleration and top end speed. He’s also a very good hands catcher of the football and his frame makes him an instant red zone target. Despite his size he has the ability to make defenders miss in the open field, which really got my attention.  I look forward to seeing Porter continue to develop.

 

Pocket Passer QB Grayson Muehlstein (Decatur) has very good mobility and is able to side step defenders, reset and deliver an accurate football. As far as eye level is concerned, he keeps his eyes down the football field and rarely drops his eyes to see oncoming defenders. What is additionally impressive is his accuracy and anticipation. I believe Muehlstein will have an opportunity to become starting quarterback for TCU as early as this season.

 

 

Texas

With head coach Charlie Strong at the helm, the Longhorns will be seeking to do whatever it take to get back to prominence. Since the departure of Colt McCoy, Texas has been devoid of a true No. 1 quarterback. With the signing of a highly touted four-star quarterback, Texas is hoping they’ve addressed the quarterback position, along with a couple other holes on the roster.

 

 

DE Derick Roberson (William J. Brennan) has a slender build he has proven to be very stout at the point of attack as well. He displays the type of aggressiveness and hands necessary to disengage from blockers in the run game and he also takes very good angles in pursuit of the ball carrier.  At 6’4 235 Lbs. I see no reason to believe Roberson can’t come in and contribute very soon at least as a situational pass rusher.

  

WR Armanti Foreman (Texas City) Is a player I began to to like more and more as I continued to watch him. His ability to create running lanes in the open field after the catch or behind the line of scrimmage off of jet sweeps might be the best of the entire 2014 recruiting class. What I like most about Foreman is that he needs minimal space to make defenders miss which allows him to maximize yardage. Foreman possesses very good hands but will let the ball in to his body on occasion. Overall he has all the makings of a big time playmaker for Texas.

 

OLB Edwin Freeman (Bowie) possesses great athleticism but he also has the ability to key and diagnose plays exceptionally well. Freeman is an instinctive player and is consistently around the football. He also has demonstrated the ability to play on 3rd down as he has the athleticism to cover tight ends as well as match up in the slot.

 

Dual Threat QB Jerrod Heard (John H. Guyer) is one of my favorite prospects in the entire 2014 recruiting class. What makes Heard special in my estimation is his ability to extend plays by making multiple defenders miss with his lateral agility and peripheral vision all while keeping his eyes down field. While I’d like to see him put a little more zip on intermediate throws, he has the ability to make every throw on the field. As mentioned above I’m a huge fan of his game and I’m sure that a player with this much talent at the most important position in football will thrive under head coach Charlie Strong.

 

ATH Lorenzo Joe (Cooper) primarily played quarterback in a read option attack in his senior season at Cooper HS, however he is being projected to play wide receiver for the Longhorns. Blessed with a 6’3 frame, he has flash skills that would allow him to line up at either position. As a receiver he has very good hands and ability to attack the football at its highest point. He’s also an outstanding red zone target at his height. Joe’s size and versatility will enable him to find his way onto the field in the near future.

 

Texas Tech

To compound losses such as senior Eric Ward and Jace Amaro on the offensive side of the football, Texas Tech will also lose three players from their secondary. While they might not have been able to completely recoup along the recruiting trail, they did land one of the top cornerback prospect in the country.

 

CB Nigel Bethel II (Booker T. Washington) is undersized at 5’9 but remains one of the top cornerback prospects in the country. Though he doesn’t possess ideal height, his exceptional footwork and ability to locate the football make him an outstanding cover corner. Bethel will see playing time early and often during the 2014 college football season.

 

WR Ian Sadler (Argyle) wowed me with remarkable versatility and outstanding athleticism, as he is also a very good hands catcher of the football. What I love about his game is not only is he quick, he also has excellent top end speed.  If the Red Raiders allow him to contribute out of the backfield as well as at wide receiver just as he did in high school Texas Tech might have a very special player on their hands.

 

WR Byron Daniels (James Madison) is very much a typical Texas Tech wide receiver as he is very smooth in and out of breaks and has very good ability after the catch. He has the ability to catch the football outside of his frame but will gear down instead of running through the catch. While he does not possess any on quality that makes him elite, he is a solid player who will eventually contribute.

 

RB Justin Stockton (Byron P. Steele II) has tremendous acceleration and long speed evidenced by his ability to destroy angles once into the secondary. It is clear that the only reason Stockton wasn’t nationally recruited was due to his size. Though he’s just 5’9 175 Lbs. I firmly believe he’ll develop into a do it all running back in Kliff Kingsbury’s system. Stockton has too much talent to keep on the sideline. I’d be surprised if this kid doesn’t play early.

 

S Payton Hendrix (Bishop Dunne) brings great size to the safety position at 6’3 187 Lbs.  He’s able to read his keys and react accordingly as he is able to play the ball extremely well but is also a very good wrap up tackler. Kids with his size and range usually play early. I look for Hendrix to get playing time on special teams rather immediately and anticipate he will receive quality snaps on the defensive side of the ball as the season goes along.

 

West Virginia

Last season West Virginia clearly struggled to replace the likes of Tavon Austin, Geno Smith and Stedman Bailey. Continuity on offense was an issue but help is on the way as the Mountaineers were able to gain commits from multiple four-star recruits at skill positions on the offensive side of the ball.

 

RB Donte Thomas-Williams (Hillside) is four-star running back that has an outstanding build for the position at the FBS level at 6’0 217 Lbs. Thomas is a downhill attacking back with very good vision and power. He has exceptional leg drive which enables him to pick up additional yardage after contact. While he does not possess great wiggle he is more of a “slasher” who can identify cutback lanes behind the line of scrimmage.

 

ATH Dravon Henry (Aliquippa) possesses excellent ball skills and tremendous overall athleticism; Henry is projected to play cornerback for the Mountaineers. With that said, don’t discount his ability on the offensive side of the ball as he is outstanding with the ball in his hands. Henry played a lot of off man coverage in high school but his ability to drive on the football enable him to make a lot of plays. He also displayed exceptional vision and ability to set up blocks along the perimeter and along the interior at the running back position.

 

WR Lamar Parker (Booker T. Washington) has outstanding long speed and is able to adjust to the deep ball beautifully. He also has very good wiggle, which enables him to maximize yardage after the catch. He will also bring added value to WVU as a return man.

 

WR Jake McCrary (Coral Reef) is blessed with very good size for the wide receiver position, which is coupled with very good athleticism and ability after the catch. He also possesses the ability fight through contact and catch the football at its highest point. Though he’ll never be the most sudden athlete on the field, he seems to be savvy enough to consistently gain separation against opposing defensive backs.

 

OLB Davonte James (Springfield) may lack initial burst but he makes up for it in instincts and his ability to disengage from blockers. His ability to get sideline to sideline is predicated on his ability to read his keys and react accordingly. While he might not be an ideal three down backer at this stage he could develop into one if he is able to improve upon his ability in coverage.

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