Who Are the Top 2014 Targets Big 12 Football Teams Are After?
February 5, national signing day, is a mere two weeks away.
Every program is racing to the finish line, trying to seal the deal with some recruits while holding on to others. There will definitely be a few decommitments and flips along the way as well.
The Big 12 hasn't fared too well on the recruiting trail, with only three top-25 classes—Texas, Oklahoma and Baylor—per 247Sports. However, there's time to lock down a few more pledges before national letters of intent are signed.
Who is still up for grabs? Let's examine five names to keep an eye on.
(All recruiting references reflect 247Sports' Composite Rankings.)
Braden Smith, OG
Kansas native Braden Smith could be a huge pickup for TCU. The Horned Frogs had a revolving door at offensive line in 2013, so it's a real area of need for them.
TCU has already addressed its O-line needs in this class with JUCO transfer Frank Kee, along with Ryan Griswold and Austin Schlottmann. Adding Smith to the class would give the Frogs a good-looking O-line group.
Smith, a 4-star guard, will make a late visit to Fort Worth on Jan. 31, just a week before national signing day. Smith's other visits are to Auburn on Jan. 17 and Texas A&M on Jan. 24. It would appear he is down to the Frogs, Aggies and Tigers, per 247Sports.
Sometimes, those late pushes can sway a prospect. TCU gets the chance to make the last, and best, impression on Smith.
He has already made a good impression of his own. MaxPreps.com recently published a video of Smith bench-pressing an astonishing 515 pounds three times (which you can see in the video above.)
TCU is far from the only Big 12 school to offer Smith; Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma and Texas have shown interest as well.
Steven Parker, S
Safety Steven Parker is the best uncommitted player in Oklahoma. He's ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the state and the No. 10 safety in the country. At 6'2" and 188 pounds, according to his 247Sports profile, he already has good size for this position.
Parker looks like he's down to three choices: Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. He went to College Station on an official visit last November.
He tweeted earlier this week that his decision is "coming down to the wire."
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are both losing key players in the secondary. It's possible, then, that Parker could find his way onto the football field as a freshman for either the Sooners or Cowboys.
If he ends up committing to the Sooners, he would join a former Jenks High School teammate, running back Alex Ross, who will be a redshirt sophomore. If he goes with the Cowboys, he would join fellow Jenks safety Dylan Harding.
Trey Lealaimatafao, DT
Texas' coaching change from Mack Brown to Charlie Strong appears to be the reason behind the decommitment. Specifically, the loss of Longhorns defensive tackles coach Bo Davis seems to have played a role in the decision.
Lealaimatafao holds several other scholarship offers and could be headed west. He has an official visit at Oregon later this week, and 247Sports predicts he will eventually sign with the Ducks.
It may be a stretch for Texas to get Lealaimatafao recommitted in the next couple of weeks, but it's not out of the realm of possibility. After all, nothing's over until the letter of intent is signed.
And even then, sometimes it isn't over.
Corey Avery, RB
All-purpose back Corey Avery has the attention of several schools, including a few in the Big 12.
The Carter High School product (Dallas, Texas) has scholarship offers from Baylor, Kansas, Nebraska and LSU, among others.
Avery told Rivals.com last September that his decision would come down to Texas Tech and Baylor (h/t The Dallas Morning News). However, 247Sports shows that his three favorites are Nebraska, Texas and Baylor.
Avery visited Texas last week and will visit Nebraska later this week. He also has a visit scheduled with Kansas later this month. Oklahoma State and West Virginia have shown interest in him as well.
Whichever school Avery chooses, it will be getting a versatile player who could contribute in either the running or passing game.
DJ Williams, DT
Kansas will battle its former Border War rival, Missouri, for defensive tackle prospect DJ Williams.
The Jayhawks and Tigers are his final two choices, with Oklahoma in the mix as an outside contender, according to 247Sports.
Williams will visit Mizzou later this week, and he visited Kansas last October. Jayhawks head coach Charlie Weis also made a visit to see him in December.
He appears to be leaning toward Missouri, but two weeks is plenty of time for Kansas to make a late run.
The Jayhawks had one of the worst run defenses in the Big 12 last season (89th nationally, per NCAA stats), so shoring up its defensive line is a priority. Getting Williams could be a big boost in that department.