Ranking Big 12 recruiting over the past decade
Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.
With the 2020 class wrapping up in February, we thought it would be interesting to see which programs in the Power Five conferences have done the best job of recruiting over the last decade. We finish with the Big 12.
Average national ranking: 11.2
The skinny: After finishing with the No. 7 class in 2010, the Sooners surprisingly didn’t have another top ten class until 2017. Since then, three straight top eight finishes have Oklahoma recruiting at a new level. With this high level of success, there has been no shortage of star power making their way through Norman since 2010. Marquise Brown, Sterling Shepard, Mark Andrews, Joe Mixon, Cody Ford and Kenny Stills are just a few of the elite recruits who impressed.
Farrell’s take: It’s surprising to see Oklahoma ahead of Texas, simply because the Sooners have such an in-state disadvantage compared to the Longhorns. However, the results on the field have shown. Lincoln Riley has proven to be a great recruiter and replacement for Bob Stoops and the OU brand is national. The Sooners do a great job in Texas and also spot recruit very well in California. As they continue to have success on the field they will only get more dangerous.
Average national ranking: 11.4
The skinny: Compared to what the Longhorns are used to with recruiting, the program had its fair share of struggles during the decade. This included a No. 31 finish in 2017. However, they also had five finishes in the top four, including a conference-best No. 2 finish in 2012. And while the on-field production didn’t always meet expectations, top recruits like Sam Ehlinger, Malik Jefferson, Jordan Hicks and Malcolm Brown did not disappoint.
Farrell’s take: The Charlie Strong years dropped this average down a bit, but things are rolling under Tom Herman now and Texas has become not only a regional recruiting power like it was under Mack Brown but a national recruiting power as well. The Texas-Oklahoma battle will be a great one to follow.
Average national ranking: 34.1
The skinny: The Horned Frogs have quietly established themselves as a consistent recruiting threat in the conference and the state of Texas. Their decade included five finishes in the top 30, including a best of No. 20 in 2016. While elite recruits such as Jalen Reagor did excel, a lot of the Horned Frogs’ success was based on building up mid-tier recruits such as LJ Collier, Joseph Noteboom and Travin Howard.
Farrell’s take: There is a huge drop down from the big two in the Big 12 and TCU ,which has done a good job pushing its way to No. 3. Gary Patterson does a good job landing quality players and evaluating prospects as well. However, TCU needs to step this up a bit and it will be hard with OU, Texas, LSU, Texas A&M and others doing so well in the area.
4. OKLAHOMA STATE
Average national ranking: 34.8
The skinny: Recruiting consistency has been the name of the game for the Cowboys during the decade. This is even more true if you disregard their No. 45 finish in 2016, which would put their remaining nine classes between No. 27 and No. 40. Similar to TCU, the Cowboys had top recruits shine, such as Mason Rudolph, but overall it was three-star recruits such as James Washington, Emmanuel Ogbah, Chris Carson and Tre Flowers who excelled.
Farrell’s take: Mike Gundy is a great coach and a very good talent evaluator and he’s done a very nice job in a state where he overshadowed by Oklahoma. He goes outside the traditional geographical region to find some talent but also lands a few key locals every year. He also coaches them up.
5. WEST VIRGINIA
Average national ranking: 39.4
The skinny: While the wins have come pretty consistently in Morgantown during the decade, recruiting has been more of a roller coaster. With two classes in the 20s, three in the 30s, four in the 40s and a decade-worst No. 51 in 2017, the Mountaineers hope that new coach Neal Brown can bring more recruiting stability to the program. When it comes to success stories, two of the more successful elite recruits the Mountaineers brought in during the decade were Quinton Spain and JUCO Bruce Irvin.
Farrell’s take: West Virginia has a horrible home-state disadvantage and must hit so many different areas to be successful that it is doing a solid job overall when you consider this factor. At WVU it’s about talent evaluation and player development, as those are the keys to winning.
Average national ranking: 39.5
The skinny: Considering the program was mired in a scandal during a portion of the decade, the Bears’ program did a surprisingly good job keeping recruiting above water. While they did dip as low as No. 58 in 2016, there were also six classes between No. 31 and No. 39. The solid recruiting brought in and produced top-level recruits such as Andrew Billings and Corey Coleman, while former two-stars such as Xavien Howard and Bryce Hager continue to excel in the NFL.
Farrell’s take: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Matt Rhule has done an amazing job, considering the mess he inherited at Baylor. However, this ranking still needs to increase and the Bears need to land some of the big names that Art Briles landed to be competitive in the Big 12.
7. TEXAS TECH
Average national ranking: 44.6
The skinny: The good news during the decade came early, with two classes in the top 26, including No. 20 in 2011. However, the bad news is the current state of affairs, with finishes at No. 73 and No. 62 during the last two years. New head coach Matt Wells is hoping to start trending recruiting in a positive direction again. Texas Tech is also another Big 12 program that has done a better job of developing three-star recruits such as Keke Coutee, Le’Raven Clark, Jakeem Grant and most notably Patrick Mahomes.
Farrell’s take: Texas Tech is up against it with so many power programs recruiting its home state, but it does a good job of developing players and it can use Mahomes as an example at quarterback forever. This is a solid average ranking but not one that will take the Red Raiders to the next level.
8. IOWA STATE
Average national ranking: 58.0
The skinny: While finishing the decade with a No. 58 average is far from positive, the Cyclones have now put together four consecutive classes that have been in the top 54, including a decades-best No. 44 in 2017. With only seven four-star recruits being signed during the decade, Allen Lazard was the one who met all expectations, while former two-stars like David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler have experienced success that surprised many.
Farrell’s take: Matt Campbell is a good coach and does a really good job evaluating talent, but the Cyclones need to be more consistent on the field to make this number jump. They land some guys that play above their ranking for sure, and get the occasional four-star here and there, but to win the conference this needs to improve.
Average national ranking: 60.3
The skinny: Annually one of the worst programs in the country on the field, the Jayhawks did have a couple of bright spots during a decade filled with recruiting disappointment. This included a No. 34 finish in 2011 and a more-recent No. 48 finish in 2018. However, a conference-worst No. 95 finish in 2016, plus a disappointing No. 74 finish in 2019, shows how difficult the job that new coach Les Miles has in front of him. While the Jayhawks had a dozen four-stars make their way to Lawrence, only a couple of mid-tier recruits, such as Dorance Armstrong and Steven Sims, made an impact in college and beyond.
Farrell’s take: Things are improving under Miles in 2020 and they should beyond that because he’s a good recruiter. Wins such as the one over Boston College will only help, but for Kansas to make any kind of splash in the Big 12 the Jayhawks need to really improve quite a bit.
10. KANSAS STATE
Average national ranking: 60.7
The skinny: Considering the Wildcats made eight bowls and had only two losing seasons during the decade, their recruiting struggles are a head scratcher. Coach Bill Snyder did a marvelous job of plugging players into his system, especially from junior college, so it will be interesting to see what new coach Chris Klieman’s recruiting philosophy will be. A few of Snyder's three-star recruits who continue to impress in the NFL are Tyler Lockett, Dalton Risner and Cody Whitehair.
Farrell’s take: Snyder was a genius at getting the most out of players, as evidenced by the success on the field he had and such a horrible recruiting ranking. But to be behind Kansas? That’s inexcusable, and something Klieman will need to improve.