Big 12 Signing Day breakdown
The Big 12 saw three teams finish inside the top 20 of the 2016 team rankings and TCU come in at No. 21. There were Signing Day surprises, dramatic finishes, and then there was the other side of the coin where everything went according to plan. There were storylines across the conference and we take a look at the biggest highlights.
BIGGEST VICTORY: TEXAS FLIPS FOWLER
It could have gone either way, but on Signing Day, the Longhorns came away with the Big 12’s highest ranked prospect in the 2016 class. Erick Fowler is from Manor, Texas, which is just east of Austin, but he had been committed to LSU since the summer. The final month of the process was a back-and-forth battle between the Tigers and the Longhorns, and after his official visit to LSU on Jan. 22, it appeared as if the Tigers had closed the door. However, the final week saw both Texas and LSU visit with Fowler and on Signing Day he made the switch. It was the biggest get on a day of big additions for the Longhorns and a very tough loss in the final minutes for LSU.
BIGGEST LOSS: OU LOSES COBB TO BAYLOR
Parrish Cobb flipped the day before Signing Day. The decision came on the heels of an official visit to Baylor on the final weekend before Signing Day. The Rivals250 CB had been committed to Oklahoma since August but showed signs he might be wavering. He considered taking an official visit to Texas the weekend before his visit to Baylor. The visit to Texas did not work out, but the Baylor visit ended up being the right fit.
MOST IMPRESSIVE OUT-OF-STATE GET: OU LANDS KELLY
Texas was not the only one to land a five-star linebacker on Signing Day. The Oklahoma Sooners also added California standout Caleb Kelly. The Sooners had been the long-time favorite for his signature, but he was very close to picking Notre Dame. It came down to the final few days, but the Sooners were able to pull out the win.
BEST STORY: THE BIG TEXAS CLOSE
Texas claimed headlines across the country for its Signing Day finish, and rightfully so. Charlie Strong and his Longhorn staff saw a staggering seven prospects announce for Texas on Signing Day, but the fireworks began the day before. Texas welcomed Rivals100 defensive tackle D'Andre Christmas-Giles and Rivals250 running back Kyle Porter on Tuesday. Then Strong and staff made their Signing Day surge with five-star Erick Fowler, Rivals100 safety Brandon Jones, and Rivals250 standouts Chris Daniels and Jeffrey McCulloch all choosing the Longhorns before lunch. Just like that, the Longhorns charged up the team rankings and took the Big 12 recruiting crown for the second year in a row.
BIGGEST SURPRISE TEAM: TEXAS
Texas is Texas and the expectations are always high for the Longhorns. Even in a year that sees Texas stagger to a 5-7 season that included three losses by at least 24 points, the expectations for a strong recruiting class are extremely high. It did not always look promising for the Longhorns' 2016 group. In fact, many did not think the Longhorns had it in them. But they did it. It required one of the strongest nation’s strongest closing days to get the job done, but it got done, and it was amazing to watch them shoot up the rankings.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT TEAM: OKLAHOMA STATE
Oklahoma State finished stronger than many thought, but for a team consistently fighting for a Big 12 title under the guidance of Mike Gundy, the 2016 class was a bit of a step down. The Cowboys were able to secure the signature of Rivals250 offensive tackle and Oklahoma’s No. 1 prospect Tramonda Moore, and grabbed Louisiana three-star quarterback Keondre Wudtee. Signing Day also brought the announcement of Oklahoma’s No. 5 prospect Calvin Bundage. So there were definitely some bright spots, especially on Signing Day, but the class as a whole finished seventh in the Big 12 team rankings.
MY PICK FOR BIG 12 FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: BAYLOR'S DEVIN DUVERNAY
Devin Duvernay arrives at Baylor as one of the fastest prospects in the country, and he appears to fit like a glove in Baylor’s explosive offense. The depth chart should be friendly and if Duvernay arrives in Waco ready to play, it looks like he will have plenty of opportunities. His abilities in the return game, his pure speed, and Baylor’s offense make him a prime candidate to have a very strong season as a true freshman.
BIGGEST MOVE THAT ALMOST HAPPENED: HUDSON TO TEXAS
As Signing Day approached, there was still some lingering doubt about where Rivals100 offensive lineman Patrick Hudson would sign. He was a long-time Baylor commitment, but he also took official visits to Texas and Georgia. The Texas Longhorns were one of the last to give up hope in swaying the Silsbee, Texas, standout, and the Monday before Signing Day, he announce his prayers were answered and he knew his decision. With that, he went silent. There was confidence on both sides, but Hudson ended the drama early Wednesday morning when he faxed his LOI to Baylor.