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Big 12 Spotlight: Five big questions about the 2024 cycle national recruiting analyst Cole Patterson takes a look at some of the biggest questions surrounding Big 12 programs and the 2024 recruiting cycle. That includes the recruitments of multiple five-star prospects and much more.


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1. Will Oklahoma flip five-star defensive end Williams Nwaneri from Missouri?

Oklahoma is coming off a significant victory over Texas in the Red River Rivalry, putting the Sooners in the College Football Playoff conversation midway point of the season. Brent Venables and company are certainly focused on the remainder of the schedule, but there is no doubt that OU wants that momentum to carry over to the recruiting trail, too.

Which brings the focus to five-star defensive end Williams Nwaneri. Nwaneri is the nation's top-ranked defender in the Rivals100 and chose in-state Missouri over Oklahoma in a heated recruitment back in August. Despite that public announcement, Nwaneri is still listening to the Sooners and even wore the team's gloves during a game earlier this season.

As Oklahoma puts together a potential conference championship season during the second of the Venables tenure, you have to wonder if Nwaneri is intrigued about what is going on in Norman.




2. Can Texas hold off Missouri for five-star wide receiver Ryan Wingo?

Sticking in the state of Missouri, Texas is in hot pursuit of five-star wide receiver Ryan Wingo. Wingo has taken multiple trips down to Austin and is a priority target for the Longhorns' staff, especially after in-state wideout Micah Hudson announced his pledge to Texas Tech. But like with Nwaneri, the Tigers are going all out to keep the star prospect home.

There was thought that Wingo could even be committed to Texas by now, but the St. Louis pass catcher has insisted that he would like to wait until going public with a decision. In the meantime, Missouri hosted Wingo on campus this past weekend as the Tigers played LSU in a high-scoring affair where Luther Burden continued to star in the offense.

Texas could lose Xavier Worthy, AD Mitchell and Ja'Tavion Sanders to the 2024 NFL Draft, meaning that Steve Sarkisian is putting an emphasis on keeping the weaponry loaded with the current class. That is part of the pitch from the Longhorns to the five-star recruit.



3. How many visits will Texas Tech commit Micah Hudson take?

Micah Hudson
Micah Hudson (

Micah Hudson announced his pledge to Joey McGure and the Red Raiders in September, providing Texas Tech with a huge boost on the trail and its highest-rated commitment of the Rivals era. Hudson has been a regular to Lubbock since the spring and has publicly said all of the right things about his decision.

With that said, the five-star receiver was on a different campus over the weekend. He made the short trek out to College Station for the SEC showdown between Texas A&M and Alabama, where the Crimson Tide pulled off the road victory. While the Red Raiders led Hudson's recruitment for months, the Aggies had been making a real push leading up to his commitment.

The confidence is still high that Hudson will sign and play in West Texas. But it's worth monitoring how many visits Hudson takes for the remainder of the cycle. Especially since he told Rivals that he was interested in visiting Alabama, among other programs.



4. How does Dave Aranda's job security impact Baylor?

Dave Aranda
Dave Aranda (© Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports)

It wasn't very long ago when Baylor head coach Dave Aranda led the Bears to a Big 12 title and a win over Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl. But since then, the morale has been anything but high in Waco as the struggles have been evident in between the lines.

Baylor sits with a 2-4 record in October, most recently highlighted by a beatdown to the hands of Texas Tech at home. And when also considering that Baylor suffered a losing season in 2022, there are questions about how long of a leash that Aranda has, especially with the new Big 12 set to officially come together next year.

Which means that there are questions about the Bears on the recruiting trail. Baylor sits at No. 58 in the team rankings as it stands, with linebacker Brock Jackson as the only four-star pledge, meaning there are already questions in that department. But Aranda's future only raises more for the remainder of the cycle.



5. Will UCF finish with a top-25 recruiting class?

UCF made a loud statement on the college football scene a few years ago and it was clear that the program was on an upward trajectory given its location and potential resources. So when the Knights got the invitation to join the Big 12, it only made sense that recruiting would be elevated in Orlando as a Power Five program.

Gus Malzhan and his staff have delivered on that thought in a big way. Led by running back Stacy Gage and defensive back Jaylen Heyward, UCF has commitments from eight four-star prospects. That's good for third-most in the conference, behind only Oklahoma and Texas. And the Knights currently sit at No. 26 in the rankings, just two spots behind Texas Tech.

Finishing in the top-25 is certainly in the realm of possibility for the Knights in the 2024 class. UCF has put itself in the mix for prospects such as Rivals100 offensive lineman Eddy Pierre-Louis and Rivals250 defensive end CJ Jackson, for instance, and there is bound to be movement in the rankings by the time that the cycle comes to a close.