Big 12 Football: Underachieving, Overachieving Recruiting Classes of BCS Era
The best Big 12 recruiting classes of the BCS era featured multiple appearances by—surprise, surprise—Oklahoma and Texas.
The list of biggest recruiting overachievers and underachievers, however, is a bit more diverse. Rarely did a Big 12 team outside the Longhorns or Sooners land a top-10 recruiting class.
Sometimes the classes that looked great on paper failed to live up to expectations. Those would qualify as the biggest underachieving classes. Conversely, the recruiting classes that looked like nothing special yet went on to do great things are considered overachieving classes.
Which classes did better than expected, and which ones did worse? They're listed in the following slides.
All recruiting rankings courtesy of Rivals.com unless noted otherwise.
Overachieving: Baylor 2008
Baylor's 2008 class—the first under head coach Art Briles—ranked No. 51 in the country, according to Rivals.com. Yet it was that class that laid the foundation for what the Bears are today.
Mixed in with 2-star and 3-star players was 4-star quarterback Robert Griffin III, the prize recruit who followed Briles from Houston. Griffin amassed 10,366 yards passing and 2,254 yards rushing in a little more than three years as a full-time starter. He also accounted for 111 total touchdowns.
In 2011, RGIII won the Heisman Trophy and the Davey O'Brien Award (best quarterback). He was No. 2 overall in the 2012 draft to the Washington Redskins.
The '08 class was highlighted by Griffin, but he was far from the only contributor. Receivers Kendall Wright and Terrance Williams began a new tradition of great wide receivers to come through Waco. Even quarterback Nick Florence, who started one season after Griffin in 2012, was a member.
Baylor's '08 class put together a record of 25-25, but that doesn't even begin to tell the story of the turnaround for the Baylor program.
Underachieving: Nebraska 2005
Yes, the '05 class had Ndamukong Suh, who cemented himself as the best defensive player in the country in '09. Suh won the Bednarik Award, Nagurski Award, Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award—not to mention he was a Heisman finalist.
Ultimately, though, the '05 class never lived up to expectations. The 'Huskers went 22-16 in the first three years, and head coach Bill Callahan got fired following a 5-7 season in '07. First-year head coach Bo Pelini salvaged things in 2008 by going 9-4 with a win over Clemson in the Gator Bowl.
Nebraska won just one Big 12 North title (2006) with the '05 class and no conference or national titles. Quarterback Harrison Beck, rated as one of the best prospects in the country at his position, never panned out and transferred to North Carolina State. Five-star running back Marlon Lucky had just one 1,000-yard season (2007).
Overachieving: Missouri 2005
Missouri was a middle-of-the-road Big 12 North team heading into the 2005 season. By Dec. 2007, the Tigers were the No. 1 in the nation.
Missouri's ascent to the top of college football was thanks in large part to the '05 recruiting class. Highlighting that group was quarterback Chase Daniel, a 3-star recruit who, at a "listed" height of 6'1", could have been seen as too short to compete at the highest level.
Daniel went on to throw for 12,379 yards as the Tigers quarterback and went 30-11 in three years as a starter.
Another standout member was tight end Chase Coffman, who won the 2008 Mackey Award. Coffman was drafted in the third round of the 2009 NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals.
In all, the '05 class contributed to 37 wins in four years, including two double-digit wins seasons in 2007 and '08 and a pair of Big 12 title game appearances.
Underachieving: Colorado 2008
The Dan Hawkins era at Colorado never quite panned out as expected. Hawkins, who came to Boulder from Boise State at the end of the 2005 season, never had a winning season in five years with the Buffaloes.
Yet, it looked like things were on the upswing in 2008 when Colorado hauled in the No. 15 recruiting class.
Among the stars of that group were offensive linemen Bryce Givens and Max Tuioti-Mariner, as well as running back Darrell Scott. Tuioti-Mariner had injury problems and was later deemed medically unable to compete; Givens was suspended in 2011 on a vandalism charge and never returned to the team.
Scott never became the bell cow running back he was expected to be and transferred to South Florida in 2010.
The '08 class never came close to meeting expectations, going 16-33 in four years. A lot of blame can be put on Hawkins and his successor, Jon Embree. Still, this group never had so much as a winning season.
Overachieving: Kansas State 2009
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder is the best in the Big 12, and perhaps the best in the country, at getting more out of less.
No class represented this wizardry more than 2009, when the Wildcats had the No. 93—repeat, No. 93—recruiting class.
All that class did was win 34 games in four years and a Big 12 title in 2012. That's not too shabby.
Members of the '09 class who went on to become starters included running back John Hubert, receiver Tramaine Thompson, safety Ty Zimmerman and defensive end Meshak Williams.
Hubert led the Wildcats in rushing during the past two seasons, while Thompson finished in the top three in receiving yards each of the past three years.
The record speaks for itself, but the '09 class also represented a return to the glory days after the disappointment of the Ron Prince era from 2006-08.
Underachieving: Texas 2010
Shortly after playing Alabama for the 2010 BCS National Championship, a 37-21 loss, Texas pulled in the No. 2 recruiting class in the country, according to 247Sports.
The Longhorns, however, didn't even come close to meeting expectations. In the four seasons since the national title appearance, Texas went 30-21 and never got back to double-digit wins—or the BCS.
Head coach Mack Brown resigned after 16 years with the 'Horns after failing to get back to a championship level.
Ultimately, the sum of Texas' 2010 class—which featured five 5-star recruits and 14 4-star recruits, per 247Sports' Composite rankings—was never as good as its parts.
Linebacker Jordan Hicks, however talented, had season-ending injuries the last two years; 4-star quarterback Connor Wood transferred to Colorado in 2011; 4-star defensive tackle Taylor Bible transferred after a year as well.
One of the few bright spots was defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, who was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2013.