The Big 12 is a forgotten conference on the recruiting trail, as only Texas and Oklahoma have the ability to consistently recruit on a national level. However, the league has seen programs such as Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State all ascend up the recruiting pecking order.
Many memorable moments have taken place through the years in Big 12 recruiting, and the 2014 recruiting trail will create additional ones. Predicting what will happen is tough, but looking deep into the recruiting crystal ball, the future can be seen.
A great running back who is expected to sign with an SEC team will consider a Big 12 powerhouse longer than many expect. Another powerhouse program will see its recruiting take a dip in 2014, while a receiver will choose not to be the headliner of an upstart Big 12 program.
Every year, when observers look back on recruiting classes, underrated recruits are discovered. USC receiver Marqise Lee, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and even Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas are all great examples of recruits who deserved more buzz.
Texas has a commitment from running back Donald Catalon, and in five years, he will be another player who will be viewed as underappreciated in high school.
While running backs such as Leonard Fournette, Sony Michel and Dalvin Cook receive most of the hype, Catalon also deserves to be mentioned as one of the best running backs in the country.
Nathan Starks is a downhill-attacking running back who played for Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas as a junior. Starks, who is 5'11" and 200 pounds, is now at Cherry Creek High School in Colorado.
He has offers from many prominent programs, but Starks will sign with Oklahoma. He will form a great tandem with current Sooner running back Keith Ford, as the pair both have good straight-line speed and strength.
The Lone Star State boasts several defensive back prospects this year, as Tony Brown, Edward Paris and Nick Watkins all are from Texas.
Another great defensive back from the state is safety Jamal Adams, who is 6'0" and 199 pounds. Adams has excellent speed, instincts, range, athletic ability and ball skills. Although he is considering Texas, says 247Sports, he will spurn the Longhorns for Florida.
Davion Hall is a 6'2", 186-pound athlete who can play safety and receiver. He committed to Baylor early in the process but took an unofficial visit to Alabama in July, per John Garcia Jr. of Scout.com (subscription required).
Hall will likely take several visits, but in the end, he will realize his best chance for immediate success is at Baylor. Look for Art Briles to be bragging about Hall in 2014.
Texas usually finishes its recruiting during the summer, as its coaching staff likes to get a head start on the next year's class.
However, the Longhorns still have several loose ends to tie, with one of them being safety John Bonney. A 6'0", 182-pound defensive back, Bonney has the athleticism and instincts to make great plays in the secondary. Although it is August, Texas will land a "late" commitment from Bonney.
Joe Mixon is a talented running back who has fantastic receiving ability. Mixon, who is 6'2" and 195 pounds, can run by defenders in a straight line and has solid strength.
The California native is considering Oklahoma, according to 247Sports. The Sooners will be in the hunt for Mixon until the end, but they will lose him to California.
The chance to play in Bears head coach Sonny Dykes' spread offense while displaying his running and receiving skills will be too great to pass up for Mixon.
It would be great for the Horned Frogs to make a splash on the Big 12 recruiting trail, and beating out more glamorous programs would do the trick.
Offensive line prospect Braden Smith is considering TCU along with powerhouses such as Alabama and Texas A&M, per 247Sports. Playing for the Crimson Tide is never a bad option, while the Aggies have the "it" factor right now.
However, Smith will spurn the pair of juggernauts by opting to sign with TCU.
A feel-good storyline of the 2014 recruiting cycle is Allen Lazard's commitment to Iowa State. The Cyclones do not land many 4-star recruits, so having a pledge from a prospect of Lazard's caliber is big news in Ames.
A big receiver at nearly 6'5" and 207 pounds, Lazard has great body control and hands on the perimeter.
He is the clear-cut headliner of the Cyclones' recruiting class, but he will not sign with Iowa State. The Iowa native will decommit from ISU before the end of this cycle and sign with Notre Dame.
The Sooners have a class that is ranked No. 29 in the 247Sports recruiting rankings. That is a solid slot to be in, as it is August and much time is left before the end of this recruiting cycle.
However, Oklahoma will not land enough impact commitments to get their class ranked as one of the best 25 in the country. The Sooners also will be overtaken by schools such as TCU, USC, Penn State and Mississippi State, which will cause them to slip down the board.
Leonard Fournette is a dominant running back prospect from Louisiana who is likely to sign with LSU or Alabama, according to 247Sports.
However, Fournette is a close friend of cornerback Jermaine Roberts, per Williams Wilkerson of ESPN.com (subscription required), who attends St. Augustine High School in New Orleans with Fournette.
Roberts is committed to Texas, and the Longhorns surely would love to add a running back of Fournette's caliber.
The chance to keep playing with Roberts while playing for Texas head coach Mack Brown will make LSU and Alabama more nervous than many people think.