Big 12 Football: Hits and Misses from Big 12 2014 Recruiting Classes
National signing day is nearly a week old, but there's still so much to be made of how the Big 12 did on the recruiting trail.
The short answer: Not as great as other conferences, like the SEC, but certainly not awful.
Only two 5-star players signed with Big 12 teams, according to 247Sports Composite rankings. To put that into perspective, three 5-star prospects signed with Texas A&M alone.
But that doesn't mean every Big 12 team missed on signing day. In fact, there were plenty of good pickups. What were some hits and misses of the 2014 recruiting classes? Our answers are in the following slides.
Hit: Texas' Defensive Line
Coaching turnover usually leads to decommitments. That was certainly the case with Texas when three defensive line prospects—Zaycoven Henderson, Trey Lealaimatafao and Courtney Garnett—backed out of their commitments to the Longhorns last month.
"My family didn't want me to be too far away from home," Ford said on signing day via Stephen Fastenau and Mike McCombs of The Island Packet. "But after they met Coach Strong, they believed he would take care of me and help me do what I needed to do to be successful."
Defensive line should be a bigger issue in 2015, so Ford and Nelson figure to be among the next wave of starters for Texas. It's not just Ford, though. Strong signed four defensive line prospects after having zero when he took the job in early January.
The Horns lost some players in the coaching change, but the defensive line proved to be the biggest gain.
Miss: TCU and Braden Smith
So close, Horned Frogs.
Four-star guard Braden Smith from Olathe, Kan. (Olathe South), had TCU high on his list entering the final days before signing day. He even visited Fort Worth on Jan. 31, which could have given the Frogs a late boost.
Instead, Smith signed with Auburn over TCU and Texas A&M. Head coach Gary Patterson had made a late recruiting push to land several prospects. Smith would have been one of the biggest acquisitions in that push.
Overall, TCU did well enough on the recruiting trail. Smith is one Patterson would have loved to have, though. Offensive line has been an issue for TCU, so Smith could have been in a position to compete relatively early.
That's something he wanted.
"The opportunity part will be key," Smith told Jeremy Crabtree in a Jan. 24 story for ESPN.com. "I would like an opportunity to play early. They need you, not just want you."
Hit: Kansas State's Offensive Line Class
Surprise, surprise, but Kansas State's 2014 recruiting class wasn't flashy.
That doesn't mean the Wildcats didn't get what they needed, though.
K-State coach Bill Snyder stocked up on six offensive linemen in the class, two of which are highly touted. One is 3-star center Dalton Risner, the No. 5 player in Colorado and No. 6 prospect at his position.
The other is JUCO transfer offensive tackle Luke Hayes, the No. 11 tackle in the country. Hayes should be in a position to play right away.
In that vein, Snyder did a good job plugging recruiting holes for a team with Big 12 title aspirations next season. The two primary areas of need were along the offensive line and in the defensive back seven.
With nine JUCO players in the '14 class, Snyder signed athletes who will be ready to compete for playing time.
Miss: West Virginia's Secondary Help
The Mountaineers need help pretty much everywhere. That's what adjusting to life in the Big 12 will do for you.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen especially needs help on defense, where injuries decimated what was otherwise an improved unit from 2012. And a big area of need was in the secondary.
Perhaps "miss" isn't the best term to describe West Virginia's secondary class; it's more OK, not great—not unlike West Virginia's class on the whole. There are only two 4-star prospects in the class according to 247Sports Composite rankings, none of which are on defense.
The immediate-impact recruit for the secondary would appear to be Jaylon Myers, ranked as No. 10 JUCO cornerback in the country.
Hit: Baylor's Wide Receivers Class
The most exciting team in the Big 12, Baylor, keeps getting ridiculous skill players to come to Waco. Specifically, the wide receiver position should be excellent for years to come.
It starts with KD Cannon, a 5-star recruit ranked as the No. 4 receiver in the country and No. 4 prospect in the state of Texas. But it certainly doesn't end there.
"I think at the end of the day we brought in the top receiver class," head coach Art Briles said on signing day (per BaylorBears.com)."This group of receivers is unmatched; there aren't four better guys in America, without question and without controversy."
It's a coach's job to pump up his own recruiting class, but Briles isn't making things up. With Cannon, Davion Hall, Ishmael Zamora and Chris Platt, the Bears have what appears to be a scary-good wide receiver unit in the making.
HIt: Oklahoma's Late Push
Oklahoma had a decent recruiting class heading into the final week before signing day. By the time all the letters of intent were in, the Sooners had an outstanding class.
The only major name Stoops didn't land was linebacker Deondre Clark, a 4-star in-state prospect who signed with LSU on Monday.
Still, four out of five isn't bad.