Recruiting: Big 12 Rankings & Analysis

Let's start with my disclaimer. Every year I apply my same formula to the Big 12 recruiting by using the primary sources of the schools themselves and Super Prep Magazine and its rankings of players.

Super Prep, started and published by Allen Wallace, has been around longer than any source out there and I continue to trust it. That could be that I'm biased as I rate the Midlands for Super Prep.

The other part of the formula comes from the schools themselves in who they lost off the depth chart (seniors, transfers, medical situations, etc.). This information is often incomplete but as best can be determined I look to see what has been lost, what is left on the roster, and what needs to be replenished.

Now to say my formula is the end all, the best, an absolute correct rating of the classes, would be false. The same as would be if Scout, Rivals, or any other source told you they were absolutely correct. None are, and the only way to grade recruiting classes is to wait five years to see what they have produced, individually and as a collection.

I do feel that my formula of measuring impact players versus immediate needs is as good as any out there of rating recruiting classes, and better than most. In other words, stars and the majority of the people awarding stars still don't get it. That's my opinion and I am sure they have their opinion of me and these ratings and analysis.

The Grades
The classes in alphabetical order with a letter grade. This grade is based on the performance of the school in recruiting and is based on what they have done in the past and how they performed this recruiting season.

Art Briles and his staff signed a balanced class. I always look at linemen and Baylor helped replenish senior losses on offense with seven offensive linemen and still garnered four on the defensive line. There are five junior college players, three of five on offensive line where more immediate help is needed.

They did not sign a a quarterback, but didn't really need one in the class. The rest of the class was very balanced by position and seems to represent an upgrade across the board in talent. This corresponds to the upgrade in performance on the field this season.

Difference Makers - 7
Marquis Franklin, OT, 6-7, 318, Blinn J.C., Texas
Terrance Ganaway, RB, 6-0, 220, Texarkana College/Univ. of Houston
Terrance Lloyd, DE, 6-4, 230, Houston (Stratford), Texas
Chris McAlister, LB, 6-2, 215, Converse (Judson), Texas
Bryce Petty, Ath., 6-3, 215, Midlothian, Texas
Broday Trahan, Ath., 6-1, 211, Dickinson, Texas
Ivory Wade, OG, 6-5, 306, Dickinson, Texas

> It's not necessarily Dan Hawkins's fault but Colorado only had 19 scholarships to pass out. The low number in the class did not prevent Hawkins and staff from bringing in good talent, including over a fourth of the class ranking as difference makers.

There is only on junior college player in the class and that is a big wide receiver in Andre Simmons, who as a potential difference maker is needed badly to help the Buffs stretch the field vertically.

There is great balance in line recruiting picking up four on offense and four on defense. The empty number is running back, but again, that is fine as the Buffs had one of the best running back classes in the nation last recruiting season. Nick Kasa at defensive end may be one of the best in the nation at that position. They also picked up a combo punter and kicker where they badly needed help. It's a small but solid class for Colorado.

Difference Makers - 5
Nate Bonsu, DT, 6-2, 280, Allen, Texas
Nick Kasa, 6-7, 250, Thornton (Legacy), Colo.
Parker Orms, DB, 5-11, 180, Wheat Ridge, Colo.
Andre Simmons, WR, 6-3, 210, Independence C.C., Mo.
Terdema Ussery, WR, 6-4, 205, Dallas (St. Mark's), Texas

> It was a tough go for the Cyclones as Gene Chizik picked up and left at a crucial time in recruiting. They held part of the class together but they were beaten soundly in the state by rival Iowa. All of those inroads that were once made into Nebraska and surrounding states by Dan McCarney and his staff, as well as picking off some Top 100 Texas talent, are gone.

They are still going to Texas but the talent there and from Florida is not of the Top 100 caliber. There are four junior college players in the class. The class is overbalanced to the defense, which isn't terrible, but the Cyclones needed offensive assistance too. Only two offensive linemen could create problems down the road.

Difference Makers - 2
Beau Blankenship, RB, 5-8, 205, Norman (North), Okla.
Kyle Lichtenberg, OL, 6-6, 250, Bettendorf, Iowa

Mark Mangino and company have taken advantage of their upward mobility in the Big 12. But the question is, have they taken up enough advantage? It is a solid class of 24 that has three junior college players including one that could make a huge difference in the secondary.

They really helped themselves in the secondary and made a great pick up on the defensive line as well as a "Todd Reesing look-a-like" at quarterback. It's the perpetual lament in recruiting for the Jayhawks, they did good, could they have done a little better?

Difference Makers - 6
D.J. Bresears, CB, 5-10, 175, Denton (Ryan), Texas
Randall Dent, Jr., DT, 6-4, 278, Grand Prairie (South Grand Prairie), Texas
Clavin Rubles, CB, 6-3, 199, Tyler J.C., Texas
Riley Spencer, OL, 6-7, 290, Hesston, Kan.
Huldon Tharp, LB, 6-1, 215, Mulvane, Kan.
Jordan Webb, QB, 6-1, 205, Union, Mo.

The return of Bill Snyder and boy does Snyder have one heckuva mess to clean up. Where do you begin? Snyder started, or rather ended, this class with a running back that might go a long way toward stabilizing the offense.

The question is, with Freeman bolting to the NFL, who will play quarterback? The Wildcats signed 30 and we know not all of them can get in, but with 19 junior college players signed in Ron Prince's disaster of a 2008 class, Snyder still had to go to the junior college's for help with six juco signees.

By position, the balance is good, but out of 30 names we could only isolate five difference makers and K-State needs more of a difference. This ship should slide back before it propels forward, but you have to remember the orchestrator of the "Miracle of Manhattan" is back at the helm.

Difference Makers - 5
William Cooper, OL, 6-5, 260, Hayti, Mo.
Jeffrey Fitzgerald, DL, 6-4, 280, Univ. of Virginia
Timothy Flanders, RB, 5-9, 191, Midwest City, Okla.
John Hubert, RB, 5-9, 190, Waco (Midway), Texas
Travis Tannahill, TE, 6-4, 240, Olathe (East), Kan.

This was definitely a reload class for Gary Pinkel and one where he needed to take advantage of the success on the field the last two seasons, although the Tigers' heels cooled a bunch down the stretch of the campaign.

One addition that didn't get as much publicity on signing day was Pinkel's hire as offensive line coach in getting LSU tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Josh Henson. A former OSU assistant, Henson knows the Big 12, especially Texas and Oklahoma.

The class has great balance with sufficient line numbers on both sides and two potential difference makers at quarterback where Missouri loses both starter Chase Daniel and talented backup Chase Patton.

Sheldon Richardson may be one of the best jumbo, even huge, athletes in the nation. He could play at four different positions, two on each side of the ball. He is so athletic he returned kicks at 6-4, 275 pounds. The class is heavy to the defense and has three junior college signees, all on defense, and a potential playmaker at linebacker.

Difference Makers - 8
Blaine Dalton, QB, 6-1, 190, Blue Springs (South), Mo.
Ashton Glaser, QB, 6-2, 210, Springdale, Ark.
Jack Meiners, OL, 6-6, 305, St. Louis (Chaminade Prep), Mo.
T.J. Moe, DB, 6-0, 190, O'Fallon (Fort Zumwalt West), Mo.
Sheldon Richardson, TE/DL, 6-4, 275, St. Louis (Gateway), Mo.
Joshua Tatum, LB, 6-1, 235, City College of San Francisco, Calif.
L'Damian Washington, WR, 6-4, 180, Shreveport (Green Oaks), La.
Andrew Wilson, LB, 6-4, 230, Peculiar (Raymore-Peculiar), Mo.

NEBRASKA - A Give the Huskers and the Bo Pelini staff plenty of credit as they got it done on the field and in the schools and homes in recruiting. This was as turnaround a recruiting class for Nebraska as the season was and the season-ending Gator Bowl win over Clemson.

There is great balance filling out the numbers and matching needs as if it were an assembly line. They went to the junior college ranks for only two players and came back with a potential game breaking wide receiver and a corner that could be a starter next fall.

There is also a future standout at quarterback that has size and ability. He can even run really well. When you think Nebraska, come on, you think line play and five of the nine difference makers we found will line up with their hand on the ground. Beware North Division, Nebraska is back!

Difference Makers - 9
Jason Ankrah, DE, 6-4, 250, Gaithersburg (Quince Orchard), Md.
Nick Ash, OL, 6-5, 260, Keller, Texas
Rex Burkhead, RB, 5-11, 200, Plano, Texas
Cody Green, QB, 6-4, 220, Dayton, Texas
Brandon Kinnie, WR, 6-3, 215, Fort Scott C.C., Kan.
Cole Pensick, DL, 6-2, 260, Lincoln (Northeast), Neb.
Thaddeus Randle, DL, 6-1, 255, Galena Park (North Shore), Texas
Jeremiah Sirles, OL, 6-6, 280, Lakewood (Bear Creek), Colo.
Chris Williams, LB, 6-0, 230, Abilene, Texas

What would you expect? The Sooners were in the national championship game and they return a Hesiman Trophy quarterback along with great skill sets including the best tight end in the Big 12 for next season.

OU needed wide receivers and got a great junior college prospect that could help immediately. They also went to the jucos for help on a depleted offensive line and looked to get what they needed.

They signed 22 overall, and the second best class in the Big 12 has half of those signees as potential difference makers. The class leans a little to defense, but is balanced with linemen. They also signed a quarterback that along with last year's signee Landry Jones should provide great competition for who will succeed as quarterback in 2010. It is a class that keeps the Sooners on track to stay in the upper echelon of college football.

Difference Makers - 11
Josh Aladenoye, OL, 6-6, 340, Mesquite (North Mesquite), Texas
Drew Allen, QB, 6-6, 210, San Antonio (Alamo Heights), Texas
Jayden Bird, LB, 6-3, 230, Conway Springs, Kan.
Kevin Brent, DB, 5-11, 196, Dallas (South Oak Cliff), Texas
Justin Chaisson, DE, 6-5, 265, Las Vegas (Gorman), Nev.
Cameron Kenney, WR, 6-2, 195, Garden City C.C., Kan.
Ronnell Lewis, LB, 6-3, 220, Dewar, Okla.
Gabe Lynn, CB, 6-1, 180, Jenks, Okla.
Jamarkus McFarland, DT, 6-3, 285, Lufkin, Texas
Jeff Vinson, OL, 6-8, 350, Lackawanna C.C., Pa.
Tom Wort, LB, 6-1, 210, New Braunfels, Texas

Oklahoma State fans will probably consider the grade and when they get to it a "homer" selection as I regularly cover the Cowboys but this class stacks up well with every class in the league and better than most except for Texas and Oklahoma.

The balance is nearly perfect, and with the exception of finding game ready defensive tackles, a problem for most schools, and needing one more linebacker and a cornerback for depth, the class hit every spot it needed too. The linemen are solid on both sides. The size is where the Cowboys really improved. They had been taking smaller players at the skill positions and that is not the case in this class. Gundy and company are giving Rob Glass and the strength staff more to work with from the beginning.

There are no tight ends, but after taking three last season and one the year before there was no need. That said, Tracy Moore, one of seven strong in-state signees, could end up at that position. There are four junior college players and three could be starting when OSU opens the 2009 season with Georgia. Dexter Pratt, an early enrollee, that had been committed for nearly forever to LSU, is a huge get and one of nine difference makers.

Difference Makers - 9
Jordan Barnes, LB, 6-1, 220, Fort Wayne (Homestead), Ind.
LeRon Furr, LB, 6-3, 220, Columbus (Carver), Ga.
Darius Hart, DE, 6-6, 255, Pearl River C.C., Miss.
Daytawion Lowe, DB, 6-1, 185, Midwest City (Carl Albert), Okla.
Anthony Morgan, OG, 6-4, 320, Navarro J.C., Texas
David Paulsen, FB/DE, 6-3, 240, Marietta (Walton), Ga.
Dexter Pratt, RB, 6-2, 225, Navasota, Texas
Jeremy Smith, RB, 5-11, 205, Tulsa (Union), Okla.
Brandon Webb, OL, 6-4, 315, Owasso, Okla.

It's incredible to have 13 difference makers in a class of just 20 signees. Mack Brown and his staff are a machine in recruiting Texas and that is all they need to do. There is not a single junior college player in the class. They don't need any.

There are 19 Texans and one top Arkansas talent in the class. Our guess is that series with Arkansas paid off for Texas too. The Razorbacks were looking to get exposure in Texas and open up more recruiting ties, but Texas pulled in the top defensive tackle in the state. There is great balance as far as offense and defense and there are plenty of valuable linemen, including three of the hard to get defensive tackles that every school covets.

There is a future quarterback to succeed Colt McCoy and he even has a good name for playing at Texas, Gilbert. It is a great class and the numbers, the grade, and the ranking reflect it. The other incredible thing about this class is that it wasn't rated number one in the nation.

Difference Makers - 13
Tariq Allen, LB, 6-2, 235, Irving (MacArthur), Texas
Thomas Ashcraft, OL, 6-5, 315, Cedar Hill, Texas
Eryon Barnett, DB, 6-2, 180, Euless (Trinity), Texas
Marcus Davis, DB, 6-1, 185, League City (Clear Creek), Texas
Garrett Gilbert, QB, 6-4, 207, Austin (Lake Travis), Texas
Clavin Howell, DL, 6-4, 265, San Antonio (Warren), Texas
Derek Johnson, DL, 6-3, 310, Hoxie, Ark.
Paden Kelley, OL, 6-7, 270, Austin (Lake Travis), Texas
Barrett Matthews, TE, 6-2, 215, Galena Park (North Shore), Texas
Alex Okafor, DL, 6-4, 240, Pflugerville,
Garrett Porter, OL, 6-6, 305, Odessa (Permian), Texas
Mason Walters, OL, 6-6, 295, Wolfforth (Frenship), Texas
Chris Waley, RB, 6-3, 235, Madisonville, Texas

Sorry, on the grade the Aggies should simply fare better. We grade on expectations and this class will have to work hard to get A&M back to where it expects to be, competing for the Big 12 South and Big 12 titles.

The balance is off, leaning to defense, which is not going to cost the Aggies on their grade. One area that helps is they signed four wide receivers by getting some badly needed assistance at a position where a quarterback pulled to wide receiver was the leading pass catcher from last season.

The balance with line recruits, always a vital area, is good. It's in the difference maker category that the Aggies fell short, not by a lot but a little and in this league a little can count for a lot especially when you are the one playing catch up. There's no quarterback in the class and that isn't a major surprise with three young quarterbacks on the squad. There is only one junior college player and he is a difference maker.

Difference Makers - 8
Coryell Judie, CB, 5-11, 185, Fort Scott C.C., Kan.
Patrick Lewis, OC, 6-2, 293, LaPlace (East St. John), La.
Christine Michael, RB, 5-11, 202, Beaumont (West Brook), Texas
Uzoma Nwachukwu, WR, 6-0, 186, Allen, Texas
Rhontae Scales, OL, 6-6, 299, Killeen, Texas
Jonathan Stewart, LB, 6-4, 221, Shreveport (Byrd), La.
Ryan Swope, WR, 6-0, 195, Austin (Westlake), Texas
Steve Terrell, DB, 5-10, 176, Allen, Texas

It's a class, a good class, but not quite as good on paper as the last several have been for the Red Raiders. It is balanced, 13 on defense and 12 on offense and the kind of balance that Mike Leach craves with a quarterback, he has one in every class, and four wide receivers on offense. Leach loves those pass catchers.

He also has a good running back, which has been becoming more popular for Tech lately. There is only one junior college signee and a bonus there in that he is a sophomore with three years to play on the defensive line. A signing day surprise was stealing Pearlie Graves out of Oklahoma from Michigan and any other schools that would have loved to steal him.

Difference Makers - 6 Terrance Bullitt, DB, 6-3, 178, Garland (Naaman Forest), Texas
Kyle Clark, OL, 6-5, 280, Denton (Guyer), Texas
Pearlie Graves, DT, 6-3, 260, Tulsa (East Central), Okla.
Joel Gray, OL, 6-6, 288, Lewisville (Hebron), Texas
Brandon Mahoney, LB, 6-2, 210, Keller (Fossil Ridge), Texas
Eric Stephens, RB, 5-8, 180, Mansfield (Timberview), Texas

(school, talent score + needs score = total score)
1. Texas 65-40-105
2. Oklahoma 50-37-87
3. Nebraska 40-39-79
4. Oklahoma State 40-38-78
5. Texas A&M 37-33-70
6. Missouri 33.3-33.3-66.6
7. (tie) Colorado 27-38-65
(tie) Texas Tech 24-41-65
9. Baylor 25-33.3-58.3
10. Kansas 25-32-57
11. Kansas State 19-26.3-45.3
12. Iowa State 9.3-35-44.3

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