NSD 2018 Wrap-Up: Ranking the Big 12 classes
With National Signing Day now in the rear-view mirror, here is a look at how the programs in the Big 12 stacked up.
TEXAS - No. 1 in Big 12, No. 4 nationally
The Good: The Longhorns accomplished exactly what they set out to do on the recruiting front when they hired Tom Herman, and that is keeping the state’s top talent in Austin. While Anthony Cook didn’t finish 2018 as a five-star prospect, he was still among arguably the best accumulation of defensive backs in any class and Caden Sterns found his way to five-star status following a dominating showing during the week at the Army All-American Bowl.
Texas also did well to keep Keaontay Ingram and Keondre Coburn in the class after some speculation that both might have been exploring some options prior to February. Also, signing four-star defensive end Joseph Ossai capped things off with an exclamation point.
The Bad: To point out flaws in the Longhorns’ class is nitpicking, and the staff did well to address the concerns about depth on the offensive and defensive lines. However, even with Ingram and four-star tight end Malcolm Epps, the team could have stood to add another prospect at either position. Otherwise, while Ayodele Adeoye and Byron Hobbs are nice players, a more dynamic linebacker commit such as DeShaun White would have really put this class over the top.
OKLAHOMA - No. 2 in Big 12, tied for No. 8 nationally
The Good: The Sooners had a strong class coming into National Signing Day, but gave themselves a big lift by adding Rivals250 defensive tackle Michael Thompson. Oklahoma also picked things up in January, flipping White, and landing a commitment from Nikolas Bonitto to strengthen a linebacker group that had some troubles in spots last season.
Brendan Radley-Hiles bolstered a secondary group that had room to add a star-level talent and tight end Brayden Willis could give them another player with a lot of upside in the passing game after his commitment a week before signing day.
The Bad: While the Sooners may have a more tidy group of players than Texas, by comparison, they still assembled a very complete class. Perhaps the staff might have liked to finish with some more size at the safety or wide receiver positions, but maybe those were just the players it was after. While keeping a stable of tight ends might not be a major priority, Grant Calcaterra is the only other player at the position on the roster other than Willis heading into the spring.
TCU - No. 3 in Big 12, No. 28 nationally
The Good: True to form, TCU quietly finished with another quality recruiting class and a wealth of in-state talent fit for its offensive and defensive schemes. Late commitments from ArDarius Washington and Jacoby Simpson added depth and toughness to the back seven of the defensive unit and the Horned Frogs have a host of offensive linemen due to fill out the group in the trenches next season.
The Bad: Earlier in the year, TCU was at least in the mix for local Rivals250 defensive tackle prospect Calvin Avery, who went on to sign with Illinois. That wasn’t a position of tremendous need heading into next season, but the Frogs did graduate one and have two that will be seniors in the fall. Whether or not TCU chose to recruit him earnestly, it may wish it had his talent on the roster by the end of next season.
BAYLOR - No. 4 in Big 12, No. 32 nationally
The Good: The Bears got a lot of positive attention for their class following a frustrating 1-11 season in Matt Rhule’s first as head coach. The record didn’t deter the players that Baylor really focused on, and the staff was able to land its only realistic quarterback target in Gerry Bohanon while learning that Zach Smith is opting to transfer. Offensive line depth was a major issue last season and Baylor was able to sign five players that should give a big lift to that group heading into next year.
The Bad: On National Signing Day, Baylor might have thought that it could add another four-star to its class in Tommy Bush, who ultimately ended up choosing Georgia. Up front defensively, Baylor was only able to sign one defensive tackle in two-star prospect Princeton Pines. It’s possible the staff views Joshua Landry as an interior lineman, but he is far better-suited to line up at defensive end.
WEST VIRGINIA - No. 5 in Big 12, No. 33 nationally
The Good: The Mountaineers were able to get most of their heavy lifting done prior to December, and while many of the names in their class might not be of the household variety, it’s well-stocked, top to bottom. Rivals250 defensive lineman Dante Stills gives them a bit of a swingman up front, and while they didn’t provide many headlines on signing day itself, they did land the Thatcher, Ariz., offensive line duo of Joe Brown and Mike Brown the week before.
The Bad: West Virginia loses its best pass-rusher from last season to graduation in Ezekiel Rose, and didn’t come away with a defensive end signee to replace him. As a whole, the team didn’t finish with overly impressive pass-rushing numbers, and doesn’t otherwise seem to have a player on the roster primed to break out in that regard.
OKLAHOMA STATE - No. 6 in Big 12, No. 35 nationally
The Good: Getting players in the secondary was the clear priority in this year’s class, in addition to picking up a quarterback to build around, both of which the Cowboys did successfully. Spencer Sanders may have a head-shaking moment or two when trying to make a play, but is just as capable of single-handedly taking games over and creating special moments. Flipping former Arkansas commit Tanner McCalister gives the Cowboys a scrappy corner to pair with JayVeon Cardwell, and signing four-star safety Sean Michael Flanagan may give the staff opportunity to experiment with roles for Kolby Peel on defense.
The Bad: Oklahoma State hasn’t recruited defensive line prospects with particular success for the past few seasons and finished with a somewhat underwhelming group in 2018. While guys such as Tyler Lacy and Michael Scott offer some potential as defensive ends, signing just one defensive tackle - two-star Samuela Tuihalamaka - doesn’t do much to move the needle in terms of big expectations.
KANSAS - No. 7 in Big 12, No. 48 nationally
The Good: It could have been so easy, and almost expected, for Kansas to see the top two remaining prospects in its class - Corione Harris and Anthony Williams - look elsewhere on National Signing Day, but the Louisiana prospects stuck around and gave the Jayhawks two four-star signees despite the team’s struggles on the field. Torry Locklin may not raise a lot of eyebrows as a two-star quarterback signee, but could show up at another position on the roster after proving late in his senior season how athletic he is in a state championship-winning campaign.
The Bad: This could have really been a special class by recent standards had Kansas been able to keep another Louisiana product in wide receiver Devonta Jason. The Jayhawks almost did, too, after he stayed committed for the better part of 2017. This team is still in clear need of playmakers on both sides of the ball, but it managed to secure two in this class.
IOWA STATE - No. 8 in Big 12, No. 54 nationally
The Good: Following the Early Signing Period, the Cyclones were able to better fill out their class with three more commitments from quarterback Brock Prudy and wide receiver Tayvonn Kyle. The big fish, however, was four-star pass-catcher Joseph Scates from Ohio. Iowa State proved to have a stout defensive unit this season, and if the staff can get the most out of Chandler Pulvermacher and Gerry Vaughn, this could end up being a pretty strong class in retrospect for Matt Campbell.
The Bad: Despite finding themselves in the Top 25 this season and having one of the hottest head coaches in the country following this season, there wasn’t exactly a corresponding boom on the recruiting trail for the Cyclones. When Iowa State fans see what a conference rival like Baylor has been able to pull together in the last two classes without a similar brand of success despite better results on the field, it has to be at least a little frustrating.
KANSAS STATE - No. 9 in Big 12, No. 57 nationally
The Good: By now, it’s pretty well understood that Kansas State doesn’t recruit with the intent to blow everyone out of the water with a top 10 class. It recruits to supply a system that gets results on Saturdays. The Wildcats landed two junior college commitments following the Early Signing Period that gave the class one last push ahead of February in defensive tackle Tyquilo Moore and linebacker Rahsaan York. But signees that had headlined the class such as quarterback John Holcombe and cornerback Darreyl Patterson give K-State some strong pieces for the future.
The Bad: Kansas State finished without a four-star prospect for the first time since 2011. Like Iowa State, the Wildcats saw a fair amount of success during the season and won several high-profile conference games, but weren’t exactly able to parlay that into big commitments on the recruiting trail.
TEXAS TECH - No. 10 in Big 12, No. 72 nationally
The Good: The Red Raiders were able to hold most of their recruiting class together amid the concerns that head coach Kliff Kingsbury wasn’t long for the job prior to his season-ending win against Texas. No surprise, Tech was able to land a strong group of wide receivers, led by four-star Erik Ezukanma, and finished things off with a late signing from Houston-area running back Ta’Zhawn Henry. Demarcus Marshall is also a punishing offensive lineman and leads a cast up front in this year’s class.
The Bad: Texas Tech continues to struggle when it comes to signing defensive linemen. It seemed as though the staff backed off its offer to three-star defensive end Cameron Valentine and missed out on landing a commitment from three-star defensive tackle Otito Ogbonnia in February. Instead, all the Red Raiders take into next season at those positions are two-stars Jaylon Hutchings and John Scott.