Big 12 Football: Class of 2014 Recruiting All-Conference Team
National signing day is in the rearview mirror. Chances are, every coach said they got exactly what they wanted, or that this is their best class yet.
That's all well and good for the next seven months, but which players signed on Wednesday by Big 12 schools will turn out to be the best?
The following slides have one selection for each position. That means some spots, like wide receiver, will have what appear to be glaring omissions.
Hey, we all have to talk about something until the '14 season starts.
(All recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.)
Quarterback: Jerrod Heard
The Longhorns had an interesting signing day—an interesting last month, for that matter. A string of defensive players decommitted in January when head coach Charlie Strong took over the program. However, Strong made a late push for a pair of out-of-state defensive tackles: Poona Ford and Chris Nelson.
Less dramatic was the signing of 4-star quarterback Jerrod Heard. The dual threat from Denton, Texas (Guyer), is rated as the No. 10 player in the state. He joins a quarterback competition that should be fascinating to watch, especially if that competition includes former USC quarterback Max Wittek.
There's a solid argument to be made that Oklahoma commit Justice Hansen has a place on this all-signing day roster, but Heard is the prize recruit for the Longhorns.
Running Back: Joe Mixon
The No. 1 all-purpose back from Oakley, Calif. (Freedom), easily makes the list. Joe Mixon, a 5-star recruit, committed to Oklahoma in early January, turning down dozens of other offers from the likes of Florida State and USC.
Mixon is already drawing comparisons to Sooner great Adrian Peterson from Jason Kersey of The Oklahoman. Time will tell if those comparisons come to fruition, but there is a good chance Mixon makes an impact as a freshman.
Oklahoma loses its top three running backs from a season ago, so there's an opportunity for Mixon to get immediate playing time. With most Big 12 recruiting classes missing on 5-star talent, Mixon emerges as perhaps the best pickup by any conference program on Wednesday.
Wide Receiver: KD Cannon
The number of quality receivers heading to Waco is beyond unfair for anyone else in the conference—but great for Baylor head coach Art Briles.
The crown jewel of Baylor's class is 5-star KD Cannon. At Mount Pleasant (Texas) High School, Cannon reeled in 243 career passes for 3,856 yards and 52 touchdowns. Half of those touchdowns came in 2012 alone.
With Cannon's signature, Briles isn't shy about declaring the Bears "Wide Receiver U."
"I think at the end of the day we brought in the top receiver class," Briles said at Cannon's signing day press conference. "This group of receivers is unmatched; there aren't four better guys in America, without question and without controversy."
Of course, every coach in America says his class is the best. That said, Baylor's wide receiver class sure is impressive. Cannon is merely the highlight of it.
Tight End: Blake Whiteley
Texas upgraded its tight end position with the addition of JUCO transfer Blake Whiteley. The 4-star from Arizona Western CC is known as more of a blocker than pass-catcher, but that will fit in with the Longhorns' offensive philosophy in 2014.
Expect Texas to put a big emphasis on running the ball, and Whiteley should be among those lined up to pave the way.
Center: Dalton Risner
School: Kansas State
It says a lot about Kansas State's class that five of its best signees were either offensive linemen or defensive players. As per usual, expect the Wildcats to be stout up front and salty on D in the years ahead.
K-State picked up one of the best players in Colorado: 3-star center Dalton Risner. He was verbally committed to the Wildcats for nearly a year before signing his national letter of intent on Wednesday.
As a junior at Wiggins High School, Risner was a first team all-conference and all-state player. He was also selected to play in the 2014 Offense-Defense All-American Bowl.
Jacob Bragg, a 3-star commit for Kansas, also would have been a good selection here.
Offensive Tackle: Luke Hayes
School: Kansas State
Make that two offensive line selections for Kansas State.
The Wildcats did an excellent job bringing in offensive line commits for the 2014 class. Unlike Risner, though, 3-star tackle Luke Hayes is a JUCO transfer. Therefore, he is more likely to be an immediate contributor.
The Wildcats lost three seniors from their O-line, two of whom were tackles. Hayes, who was named a second-team NJCAA All-American, should be able to play right away.
Offensive Guard: Jarell Broxton
3-star offensive guard Jarell Broxton is an immediate-need player who could succeed All-American Cyril Richardson.
Broxton has all the accolades and offers of a highly touted player. He held offers from UCLA, Arizona State and Wisconsin, and was named a First Team Junior College All-American this past season. At 6'5" and 328 pounds, Broxton is already physically ready to take the leap to big-time college football.
With Broxton's help, Baylor's offense should be able to pick up where it left off in 2013.
Defensive End: Derick Roberson
Texas' defensive line should be excellent in 2014, but 4-star defensive end Derick Roberson could be the next great pass-rusher for the Longhorns.
Roberson was a 2014 Under Armour All-American game selection and named Associated Press Class 4A Defensive Player of the Year. He held offers from Alabama and Texas A&M.
Since he was not previously committed, Robseron's signature on signing day was a huge victory for Longhorns coach Charlie Strong.
Defensive Tackle: Poona Ford
Texas' biggest signing day victory came when Hilton Head Island, S.C. (Hilton Head), defensive tackle Poona Ford gave his signature to the Longhorns.
Texas desperately needed defensive linemen after three prospects decommitted in January in the span of a day. Ford and Chris Nelson give Charlie Strong a nice rebound at the end.
The Horns are set along the defensive line in 2014, but it's possible Ford cracks the two-deep on the depth chart right away.
Outside Linebacker: Gyasi Akem
School: Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State's biggest recruiting needs were on defense. With the senior-laden group from 2013 gone, the Cowboys have some major holes to fill.
Especially at linebacker.
The Pokes signed five linebackers on Wednesday, none of whom were more highly touted than Gyasi Akem from Broken Arrow, Okla. (Broken Arrow). The 4-star athlete was rated the No. 5 player in the state.
Akem had been verbally committed to Oklahoma State for the better part of a year, but still had scholarship offers from Baylor and Oklahoma, among many others.
Akem's signature was, without a doubt, one of the biggest in this signing class for head coach Mike Gundy.
Inside Linebacker: James David
-- UPDATE --
According to Sean Giggy of KWTX, David has backed out of his commitment to Baylor.
-- END UPDATE --
So much attention was placed on the offensive skill players who signed with Baylor on Wednesday—and understandably so.
That said, the Bears got a nice linebacker too in James David. The 3-star recruit from Rockdale, Texas (Rockdale), had offers from all over the country, from South Carolina to Oklahoma to Washington.
Baylor's linebacker group is in the middle of some turnover. Eddie Lackey is gone and Bryce Hager is going to be a senior next season. Expect David to be in a position to compete for a starting job before too long.
Cornerback: Nigel Bethel
School: Texas Tech
Texas Tech needed the most recruiting help along the defensive line, but the Red Raiders got a good commit for the secondary.
3-star cornerback Nigel Bethel hails from Booker T. Washington High School in Miami, and had offers from Florida State, Miami and Tennessee.
As a senior in 2013, Bethel had 28 tackles and two interceptions. With the departure of three key senior cornerbacks, Bethel could have an opportunity to play right away.
Safety: Steven Parker
No one in the Big 12 closed better on signing day than Oklahoma. One of the last-minute pickups was safety Steven Parker.
A 4-star, in-state prospect from Jenks High School, Parker chose the Sooners over Texas A&M and Auburn.
The Sooners will be young in the secondary after losing cornerback Aaron Colvin and safety Gabe Lynn. It wouldn't be surprising to see Parker crack the two-deep immediately as a freshman. When it comes to filling a need with blue-chip talent, Parker was one of the best pickups in the Big 12 on signing day.
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