Best Big 12 Football Recruiting Classes from BCS Era
The BCS era is officially over, but another national signing day (Feb. 5) is drawing ever closer.
So, in the spirit of offseason conversation starters, it's time to look back at the best recruiting classes in the Big 12 during the BCS era.
The word "best" can take on a variety of definitions. Here, it's how well their potential met expectations. How many games and/or championships did a particular recruiting class win? How many future NFL players or award winners were a part of the class? These are some of the considerations taken when determining which classes were the best.
Don't see a noteworthy recruiting class on here? Don't blow a gasket just yet. It may be listed in Friday's follow-up feature, which will list recruiting classes from the BCS era that overachieved or underachieved.
In the meantime, here are five recruiting classes that stand above the rest.
No. 5 Nebraska 2007
The Cornhuskers may not be the program they once were under former coach Tom Osborne. They're not even in the Big 12 anymore, for that matter.
Still, Nebraska's 2007 recruiting class, which ranked No. 13 in the country according to Rivals.com, turned out to be one of the program's best since the late 1990s/early 2000s—when results are included. Otherwise, the 2005 'Huskers class would be considered one of the best.
Among the notable names from the '07 class were defensive back Prince Amukamara, defensive end Jared Crick and running back Roy Helu Jr. Helu's back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons helped move him into the top five on the Cornhuskers’ career rushing list.
A disappointing 5-7 season in '07 resulted in head coach Bill Callahan Callahan get replaced with Bo Pelini. The 'Huskers then won at least nine games from 2008-10. In all, seven players from that class would be drafted.
The Stars: RB Roy Helu Jr., DB Larry Asante, WR Niles Paul
The Surprises: DB Prince Amukamara, DE Jared Crick
No. 4 Texas 2005
The 2005 recruiting class wasn't Texas' biggest or best in terms of signing day buzz. The 'Horns signed just 15 players, none of which were 5-star recruits, according to Rivals.com.
Still, that class featured a handful of big-name players who would go on to do great things for the Longhorns.
It starts with quarterback Colt McCoy, who was a quiet 3-star quarterback from Tuscola, TX. McCoy succeeded Vince Young in 2006 after redshirting his first year and won at least 10 games every year.
McCoy then led the 'Horns to a BCS National Championship appearance following the 2009 season. However, he sustained a nerve injury early in the game and did not return. Texas lost to Alabama 37-21.
Other members of the '05 class included running back Jamaal Charles, tight end Jermichael Finley and receiver Quan Cosby. Charles led the team in rushing in 2006 and '07, and was a key part of the offense during the '05 championship run. Cosby consistently ranked among the program's top receivers, leading the team in receptions (92) and yards (1,123) in 2008.
In all, the '05 class was a part of 45 wins for Texas.
The Stars: RB Jamaal Charles, TE Jermichael Finley, WR Quan Cosby
The Surprises: QB Colt McCoy, OL Chris Hall
No. 3 Oklahoma 1999
It can be difficult to separate Oklahoma's 1999 recruiting class from the class of 2000. Both were instrumental in laying the foundation for a decade of dominance in the Big 12.
But the 1999 class, the first for head coach Bob Stoops, ended up having some major star power.
Among the names included in that class included quarterback and 2003 Heisman winner Jason White, running back Quentin Griffin and defensive back Roy Williams. Williams would go on to win the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Jim Thorpe Award, cementing himself as one of the best defensive players to pass through the program.
The '99 class helped the Sooners win 43 games over the next four years, including the 2001 Orange Bowl over Florida State, which gave Oklahoma its first and only BCS championship.
The Stars: QB Jason White, DB Roy Williams
The Surprises: RB Quentin Griffin, LB Torrance Marshall
No. 2 Texas 2002
Former Texas coach Mack Brown was always known as a great recruiter. In 2002, though, Mack put together a class that would bring the Longhorns their first national championship in over three decades.
The group, rated best in the country by Rivals.com, was led by quarterback Vince Young, a 5-star recruit according to several recruiting websites. Though Young was passed over in the Heisman voting in favor of USC running back Reggie Bush in 2005, Young got the last laugh when he led the 'Horns to a 41-38 win over the Trojans in the Rose Bowl to win the BCS title.
Young was drafted third overall by the Tennessee Titans a few months later.
Other members of the '02 class included running back Selvin Young, tight end David Thomas and cornerback Aaron Ross, the '06 Jim Thorpe Award winner. This class recorded double-digit wins every season and produced five All-Americans.
The Stars: QB Vince Young, DB Aaron Ross, RB Selvin Young, OL Justin Blalock, DT Rodrique Wright,
The Surprises: DE Brian Robison
No. 1 Oklahoma 2006
Oklahoma had a string of excellent recruiting classes in the 2000s under head coach Bob Stoops. Not surprisingly, the Sooners went on one of the great runs in college football during that time. From 2000-10, Oklahoma won at least 11 games nine different times.
Of all of those classes, the 2006 group stands out. The class was led by quarterback Sam Bradford, who was a 3-star prospect from Oklahoma City. In 2008, Bradford would go on to win the Davey O'Brien Award for best quarterback as well as the Heisman, making him the fifth Sooner to do so.
Bradford led the Oklahoma to a 12-2 record in 2008-09, losing to Florida 24-14 in the BCS National Championship. In all, the '06 class went 42-13 in four years and won three Big 12 titles.
Bradford would return to Norman in 2009 as a redshirt junior, but sustained a shoulder injury in the season opener against BYU. He would sit out practically the entire season and declared for the NFL draft where he was the No. 1 overall pick to the St. Louis Rams.
Joining Bradford in the in NFL were defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, taken third overall, offensive lineman Trent Williams, taken fourth overall, and tight end Jermaine Gresham who went 21st overall.
The Stars: QB Sam Bradford, DT Gerald McCoy, RB Demarco Murray, TE Jermaine Gresham,
The Surprises: OL Trent Williams, DB Quinton Carter