Big 12 Spotlight: Handicapping the conference recruiting race
With recruiting classes around the country beginning to fill out, now is a great time to look at how the Big 12 is faring heading into the home stretch of the 2024 cycle. Here are some of Cole Patterson's thoughts for the Big 12's 2024 recruiting rankings.
PROJECTED LEAGUE CHAMPION: Oklahoma
Oklahoma currently sits atop the recruiting class rankings in the Big 12 as Brent Venables and company prepare for the big move to the SEC. Five-star defensive lineman David Stone headlines the class, but he’s far from the only impact prospect set to play their collegiate career in Norman.
Rivals100 defensive lineman Nigel Smith just committed to OU, providing the Sooners with a versatile defender that can play all over the line of scrimmage. Quarterback Michael Hawkins, running back Taylor Tatum and tight end Davon Mitchell are four-stars that are set to bring a boost to the offense. Additionally, Oklahoma remains in the game for electric Terry Bussey and will undoubtedly continue to chip away at the likes of Dominick McKinnley and Williams Nwaneri until pen hits the paper.
DON'T COUNT OUT: Texas
With all of that said, Texas cannot be counted out. Five-star pass rusher Colin Simmons is the crown jewel for head coach Steve Sarkisian in this cycle. The Duncanville standout opted for the home state Longhorns over a heavy push from LSU.
But where the Longhorns can really make a move and push Oklahoma for the top spot in the conference is with what’s left on the board. As it stands, Texas is in strong position to land five-star wide receiver Ryan Wingo and high four-star recruits Kobe Black and Brandon Baker. The big win over Alabama over the weekend should give the Longhorns a wave of momentum to ride.
BIGGEST OVERACHIEVER: Kansas
Kansas has become an exciting team to watch on the field since head coach Lance Leipold took over in Lawrence. Jalon Daniels is must-watch television, and the Jayhawks have proven to be competitive now, highlighted by the bowl game versus Arkansas and the most recent win over Illinois.
That momentum has carried over to recruiting. Kansas has commitments from three four-star prospects, including a pair from the Houston area in Dakyus Brinkley and Damani Maxson. Prospects are taking notice of what is being built in the Sunflower State.
Another program worth mentioning is Texas Tech. Joey McGuire has elevated the recruiting in Lubbock since taking over. Led by four-stars Will Hammond, Ellis Davis and Cheta Ofili, Tech can make an even bigger jump if it can land five-star Micah Hudson, who was back on campus over the weekend.
SURPRISINGLY STRUGGLING: Houston
Houston was a program that many considered a bit of sleeping giant due to its recruiting base and potential resources. So when the Cougars made the move to the Big 12, expectations were high.
Unfortunately for the Cougars, that hasn’t all translated to the recruiting landscape. Houston holds eight commitments early in September with just one of those being from a four-star prospect. On the bright side, Houston did flip Rivals250 DB Maurice Williams from LSU back in the summer. That validates some of what it can do. But it’s been a lot different compared with what UCF, another new Big 12 team, has done on the trail.
BIGGEST BATTLE: Texas Tech vs. The Field
Micah Hudson is the top available uncommitted prospect in the Rivals rankings, coming in at No. 6 overall nationally. He’s the No. 2 wide receiver recruit in the cycle, making him one of the most coveted players on several programs’ boards.
Texas Tech has been viewed as the team to beat for the last several months. McGuire and staff have put in a tremendous amount of work in recruiting Hudson and the Red Raiders have got him to campus many times since the spring.
However, a commitment has still not come. Hudson told Rivals that he is thinking an announcement regarding his college plans might not come until signing day. That is months form now, leaving the door open for other schools to strike.
Texas and Texas A&M have both emerged as strong contenders for the five-star, with Hudson likely to visit College Station this month. But now Alabama and Oregon have also jumped into the picture, as the Crimson Tide are expected to host Hudson for an official visit next month.
All of this to say that the biggest recruiting battle in the conference for this cycle is Texas Tech holding off the field to sign its highest-rated prospect in program history.
MORE: Hudson talks with Rivals