Big 12 Breakdown

The Big XII finished fifth in the conference rankings, headlined by perennial powerhouse teams Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas, and Texas A&M.

Oklahoma finished No. 6 (overall) in the nation and grabbed the No. 1-spot in the Big 12 recruiting rankings per Inking 26 kids, which included three 5-star/nine 4-star athletes, OU nailed down another star-studded class heavy on blue-chip talent. Annually, Bob Stoops/Bobby Jack Wright and company recruit the state of Texas as well as anybody in the country, particularly where the superstars reside. Case in point: The Sooners once again reeled in the Lone Star state's top prospect when DeMarcus Granger (left, Texas Hot 100 No. 1 and No. 1 DT in the nation) faxed in his OU LOI. They plucked three from the Top-10 but were not done. The Signing Day pick-up of the Midlands Hot 50 No. 1 (and the nation's No. 1 free safety), Reggie Smith, continued to prove OU and their staff recruit as well as any staff in college football. Incidentally, the Sooners also may very well be on their way toward earning the "Linebacker U" tag when you consider the wealth of talent they collected at that position: Ryan Reynolds (4-star), Lamont Robinson (4-star) and Curtis Lofton (4-star), who may have the most potential out of the group. Secondly, three wide receivers headed to the NFL Draft in April had the Sooners in hot pursuit to fill those vacancies. And, Oklahoma is in line for potentially a better group, collecting LOIs from Malcolm Kelly (5-star), Eric Huggins (4-star) and Manuel Johnson (4-star), not to mention sleeper wideout Juaquin Iglesias.

With its first top ten class in years, Nebraska signed the largest class in the nation with 31 players. There are stars at every position. The Huskers landed three four star players on their defensive line in defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (left) from Portland Grant, OR, and defensive ends Barry Turner from Brentwood Academy, TN, and Zach Potter from Omaha Creighton Prep. In all, Nebraska signed 11 four star players and the most JUCO players they have ever inked with 12. The staff believes they landed their future quarterback in four star Harrison Beck from Clearwater Countryside, FL. Beck will have some amazing assistance in the NU backfield in the future as the crown jewel of the entire group is five star running back Marlon Lucky from North Hollywood, CA. Jordan Congdon will help give the kicking game a boost. The four star, nationally rated no.3 kicker hails from St. Augustine High in San Diego. If the new staff can string together a couple of classes like this then Nebraska fans can expect them to be a dominant team once again.

Texas landed the No. 13-ranked class per, finishing behind Oklahoma and Nebraska in the Big 12, landing a total of 15 for the 2005 class. While Mack Brown and Co. missed on some big-name recruits, particularly the Nation's No. 2 (QB Ryan Perrilloux) -- who decided to remain in-state, signing with LSU -- the Horns still accomplished quite a bit in this year's class. They landed 12 prospects on the Texas Top 100, including several blue-chippers. A few of the bigger names were Roy Miller (left, 5-star DT), Chris Brown (4-star LB/DE), Jamaal Charles (4-star RB), Henry Melton (4-star H-Back/DE) and Quan Cosby (4-star WR), who decided to come back to the Horns after a 4-year stint in the minor leagues. They also picked up the Southwest Hot 100 No. 14 (overall) in Aaron Lewis, a 4-star DE, hailing from La Cueva, New Mexico.

Texas A&M finished up nicely, reeling in a No. 17 overall class per, grabbing a total of 24 prospects. Dennis Franchione signed more Texas Top 100 athletes than any other school, collecting a whopping 15 off the list. Some of the bluest of blues they managed to bring in include, Martellus Bennett (left, 5-Star TE), Vincent Williams (4-Star DT), Arkeith Brown (4-Star WR/CB), Michael Shumard (4-Star OT), Howard Morrow (4-Star WR), Jodie Richardson (4-Star LB) and Alton Dixon (4-Star CB). From top to bottom, particularly at the top, this was an outstanding class for the Maroon/White.

Texas Tech had a few more defections than they would have liked but stole a few down-the-stretch, including Marlon Winn (Waxahachie OT) who I tabbed as a Signing Day surprise when he was expected land elsewhere. The Red Raiders racked up 21 total signees, finishing No. 36 (overall) in the country per and in the top-five of the Big 12's top recruiting classes. If you look closely, Mike Leach and his staff corralled 10 prospects from the Texas Top 100, including some key blue-chippers, no one better than McKinner Dixon (4-Star DE/DT). He will bolster the D-line, where they needed the most help, is a playmaker who has a motor that never quits and a huge pick-up for the Lyle Setencich defense. Additionally, the Scarlet/Black landed some other noteworthy blue-chippers, signing Todd Walker (left, 4-star WR), Chris Cunigan (4-star WR), Louis Vasquez (3-star OT), Catron Houston (3-star WR), Edward Britton (3-star RB) and LaShawn Vation (3-star FS).

The easy headliner for Missouri would be quarterback Chase Daniel, but I'm going to go in the direction of tight end Chase Coffman, the son of former All-Pro tight end Paul Coffman. Paul, who played at Kansas State, had many believing his son would follow direction, or even perhaps head four hours north to Iowa City, but in the end it was the familiarity with the program that kept Coffman in Columbia. Although a bit thin, Coffman has tremendous hands, and creates seperation as well as any tight end on film. The Kansas City area was good to Missouri in the early stages, especially with the commitment of defensive end Tarell Corby (left) of Kansas City North. At 6'4 and 210 pounds, Corby has been timed at 4.4, and is an explosive force coming off the edge. His hips will allow him to add some weight as his legs can use, but he should be a 260 pound relentless pass rusher for the Tigers in a few years.

The Colorado Buffaloes landed a better than expected class considering all of the off-the-field issues and recruiting restrictions they had to endure this cycle. Four star defensive end Maurice Lucas from Aurora Rangeview, CO was the first player to commit to CU in the class, then he changed his commitment to Kansas State, and eventually ended up back with the Buffs in December. The state of Colorado's top receiver, Jarrell Yates, committed to Colorado, then to Kansas, and also went back with the Buffs in early January. CU landed four star running back Maurice Greer (left) from Denver Mullen and many have him tabbed as the state's best player. Gardner McKay II from Crenshaw is considered to be the best cornerback prospect in Los Angeles. In Texas, CU landed a couple of gems in safety James Lewis from Franklin, TX, and linebacker Marcus Burton from Channelview, TX. Florida provided a big boost as CU landed one of the top running backs from the Sunshine State in Miami Northwestern's Kevin Moyd and the no.2 punter in the nation in Wellington's Matthew DiLallo. The class was linemen heavy with four offensive lineman and five defensive lineman.

This was a bit of a down year for Coach Synder and his Kansas State staff compared to past recruiting classes, especially the Class of 2004, but the Wildcats did walk away arguably the top junior college offensive tackle in Mike Friesen out of Bakersfield, as well, as landing DeLaSalle quarterback Kevin Lopina (left), who originally committed to Oregon State. Dallas Lincoln safety Courtney Herndon has the potential to be amongst the best in the Big 12 Conference. Kansas State may have found their sleeper on Signing Day in Sedan, Kansas prospect Brandon Rees (6'6 230 4.8) who has excellent athleticism for his size, and the flexibility to play a magnitude of positions in college. Don't be surprised if ends up as an offensive tackle with his frame, but at the same time, his explosion is impressive enough to warrant the possiblity of some defensive line play.

Iowa State landed one of the nation's top junior college tight ends, Walter Nickel (left), after graduating three tight ends at the end of the 2004 season. A few dropped passes from the tight end cost the Cyclones dearly in their game against Missouri to advance onto the Big 12 Championship. Nickel not only is an upgrade at tight end, but will allow them to stretch the middle of the field more than any other previous tight end under Dan McCarney. There are a lot of prospects that could fall under the sleeper category for the Cyclones, but I'm going to stay in the Midlands Region with my sleeper choice, Houston Jones. While some have questioned whether he will stay at quarterback or not, I believe he is the perfect successor to Bret Meyer with his ability to throw on the run, elusiveness, and he has such a quick release.

The Kansas Jayhawks had Pittsburg native Kerry Meier (left) as their top choice at quarterback from the beginning. They defied the odds as many pegged Meier to join his brothers, including current Wildcat quarterback Dylan Meier, in Manhattan under Bill Synder. Coach Mark Mangino is very well known for his development of quarterbacks, and his offensive schemes, which captured the attention of Meier, eventually leading to his signature. This was a huge commitment in more than one way, especially in establishing their ability to recruit in their own state against Kansas State. Meier will enjoy throwing to his favorite target, Raimond Pendelton, who improved as much as any wide receiver in Texas during his senior season. A three star prospect on, Justin Thornton could excel on either side of the ball standing at 6'2 and 180 pounds. A raw athlete that has not even came close to tapping his potential at this point, Thornton could be an emerging star in the Big 12 Conference, especially under the direction of the Jayhawk strength and conditioning program. The Jayhawks may have lost out on defensive tackle Terrel Nemons, but they found two replacements that shown a lot of potential for long-term growth in Jonathan Thronberry and Bobby Johnson.

Ranked with the 64th best class in the nation, according to, Oklahoma State could be a school that will surprise. Due to turnover on the staff, the Cowboys fought an uphill battle. However, OSU filled a pressing need in the secondary, grabbing three cornerback/safety prospects from the Texas Hot 100 list: Quinton Moore (No. 33), Andre Sexton (left, No. 38) and Ricky Price (No. 87), who could also excel at wide receiver. They also took advantage of two Big 12 North schools in taking away Jacob Lacey (Kansas) and Calvin Mickens (Nebraska). While Oklahoma State experienced a few setbacks, they were able to pick up a few soft verbals elsewhere, including Alex Odiari (Texas 100 No. 74), Jeremy Broadway (Texas 100 No. 57) and Zac Robinson (Midlands Hot 50 No. 15), who improved immensely during his senior season, and arguably one of the top 25 quarterbacks in the country. Oklahoma State needs to take advantage of its home turf, though, in watching the top five prospects in the state head elsewhere.

Baylor tied with Oklahoma State with the No. 64th-ranked recruiting class, which all things considered, was higher than some expected. However, expectations in Waco are much higher. The want the Bears contending in the top-half of the Big 12. That said, this class adds much more quality than meets the eye. The size/speed-packages of some of the kids inking with Baylor, reveals that they should have received a bit more attention from the gurus. Guy Morriss and Gang are taking two steps forward on the gridiron and in recruiting, forcing the gurus to pay more attention to their recruiting efforts and how their guys are evaluated. Prospects BU snagged from the Texas Top 100 are Shon Brown (3-star LB), Jason Lamb (3-star TE) and Queito Teasley (3-star RB/WR). Their highest profile pick-up is David Gettis (left), a 4-star athlete from Los Angles, who gave his commitment to the Bears during the NBC-televised U.S. Army All-American game.

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