It’s always fun to rank the Big 12 recruiting classes that are just coming onto campus, or will be in the next few months. But the best way to judge a recruiting class is to look 3 years in the rearview mirror and see how these classes panned out.
Since it’s a little slow between now and the start of spring practice starting up in a couple weeks, why not take a look at the Big 12 recruiting classes in 2014 and see, in hindsight, who had the best classes?
1. Oklahoma Sooners
Previously: 1st in Big 12, 15th nationally
Star(s) of the class: Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon
Other key contributors: Mark Andrews, Orlando Brown, Jordan Thomas, Dimitri Flowers
Analysis: Unbelievable. What are the odds the Sooners would bring in two of the best running backs in the program’s history? In hindsight, Oklahoma dominating Big 12 recruiting in 2014. Perine holds the career rushing record at OU, while Mixon, for all his warts, is an absolute stud who is going to be playing on Sundays (like it or not). Throw in a top-notch left tackle in Brown, along with the other key contributors, and you have a high-quality class brought in by Bob Stoops & Co.
2. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Previously: 3rd in Big 12, 27th nationally
Star(s) of the class: Mason Rudolph, James Washington
Other key contributors: Tyreek Hill, Chris Lacy, Ramon Richards
Analysis: This class was very top heavy. But since the Cowboys may very well duplicate what they had with Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon just a few short years later, this class is very worthy of the #2 spot. Both could have left for the NFL Draft after their junior seasons, but each decided to come back for one more run in Stillwater. Tyreek Hill was kicked off the team for domestic violence, but his legacy is cemented thanks to Bedlam.
3. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Previously: 6th in Big 12, 44th nationally
Star(s) of the class: Patrick Mahomes
Other key contributors: Justin Stockton, Devin Lauderdale, Justin Murphy, Jah’Shawn Johnson
Analysis: Patrick Mahomes, what more needs to be said? When a team land a stud like this then this class is worth something. Granted, it’s Kliff Kingsbury’s fault the class never amounted to much on the field, but that’s mostly because of a defense that was downright horrendous. Tech fans are going to look back on the Mahomes era and always wonder, “what if…?”. “What if we could only allow 5oo yards per game instead of 600?” We’ll never know! But Mahomes, along with a solid supporting cast from this class (on offense), moves them into the top 3.
4. Baylor Bears
Previously: 4th in Big 12, 34th nationally
Star(s) of the class: KD Cannon
Other key contributors: Terence Williams, Ishmael Zamora, Ira Lewis, Davion Hall
Analysis: This Baylor class has been through a lot both on and off the field. They saw their team on the doorstep of the College Football Playoff in 2014 and they witnessed the program’s near collapse this past offseason. KD Cannon became the latest big-time wide receiver in Waco, and there were plenty of other quality players in the class with Williams, Zamora, Lewis and others.
5. Texas Longhorns
Previously: 2nd in Big 12, 20th nationally
Star(s) of the class: D’Onta Foreman
Other key contributors: Poona Ford, Armanti Foreman, Jason Hall
Analysis: D’Onta Foreman semi-saved this Texas class. For a top-20 class there was not a lot of high-end talent that developed out of it. But, this was also the first class for Charlie Strong that came in just weeks after he was hired, which can be notoriously tricky classes for a head coach. History will grade his 2015 and 2016 classes much more favorably.
6. Kansas State
Previously: 7th in Big 12, 47th nationally
Star(s) of the class: Elijah Lee
Other key contributors: Dominique Heath, Winston Dimel, Kendall Adams
Analysis: Lee is the latest under-recruited 3-star player that Bill Snyder has coached up. Lee is skipping his senior year to enter the NFL Draft. Add that to a pretty solid group of contributors that have continued to help Kansas State overachieve and this class, in hindsight, is definitely solid.
7. West Virginia Mountaineers
Previously: 6th in Big 12, 40th nationally
Star(s) of the class: Dravon Askew-Henry
Other key contributors: Skyler Howard
Analysis: There really isn’t much in this class other than Henry and Howard. Henry was named an ESPN All-American in 2014 and started all 13 games in 2015. But he redshirted after sustaining a season-ending knee injury during preseason camp. If he can return to All-Big 12 quality in 2017 then maybe this class can jump a bit. Skyler Howard was a serviceable quarterback, but many fans will always believe this team could’ve done more with a better signal caller. William Crest came in with a ton of hype, but it was announced last month he would be transferring.
8. Iowa State Cyclones
Previously: 10th in Big 12, 56th nationally
Star(s) of the class: Allen Lazard
Other key contributors: Willie Harvey, Colin Downing
Analysis: Lazard is a legitimate NFL wide receiver. If the Cyclones would’ve had just a little more in the way of depth in this class, it’d shoot up a couple spots. But there just wasn’t much else in this Big 12 recruiting class for former head coach Paul Rhoads.
9. TCU Horned Frogs
Previously: 8th in Big 12, 52nd nationally
Star(s) of the class: None
Other key contributors: Emmanuel Porter, Travin Howard, Nick Orr, Austin Schlottmann
Analysis: This class just doesn’t have that breakout star. 4-star running back Shaun Nixon has yet to see any playing time. He was the highest-recruited player in the class. But, there is a solid group of key contributors that haven’t turned into the breakout stars of the Big 12, but have assisted TCU in becoming a quality Power 5 program.
10. Kansas Jayhawks
Previously: 9th in Big 12, 55th nationally
Star(s) of the class: Daniel Wise
Other key contributors: Damani Mosby, Bobby Hartzog, Anthony Smithson, Joe Dineen
Analysis: Charlie Weis’ last class actually had some players who turned out to be useful for David Beaty. But, when you’ve won 2 games the past two seasons, it’s hard to say this class should be anywhere but 10th. Wise is turning into a nice anchor on the defensive line, and other names mentioned helped get this program through a dark time. For that alone, they deserve some credit.
So in hindsight, there were some solid Big 12 recruiting classes in 2014, but overall, I’d grade it as a down year for the conference. Hopefully we aren’t saying the same thing next year about the 2015 class.
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