With the 2021 college football recruiting classes in the books, it’s time to go back and re-rank the 2018 classes in the Big 12 Conference. Three years gives one a great idea on who exceeded expectations based on where the class was ranked, and who came up short of expectations.
So let’s dive into it!
1. Iowa State Cyclones (2018 Ranking: 7)
There’s not much more to say other than that Matt Campbell absolutely killed it with this class. This class had the 2020 First-Team All-Big 12 QB selection in Brock Purdy. Then, it also included the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in linebacker Mike Rose. So much of this team was the core of the program that took them to the Big 12 Championship Game this past season. But heck, the list just starts there. Let’s go to the defensive side where the likes of Greg Eisworth, Will McDonald and Anthony Johnson came in. Offensively, the list also includes Sean Shaw Jr., Trevor Downing and Joey Ramos. The only knock is maybe the top recruit in the class, WR Joe Scates, hasn’t lived up to that potential, but otherwise this was an outstanding class by Matt Campbell. Who says recruiting rankings matter?!
2. Texas Longhorns (2018 Ranking: 1)
The first full class of Tom Herman‘s was really impressive and when it comes to individual talent, it looks like it paid off. Several players on this team were quality starters and some are off to the NFL: Caden Sterns, Joseph Ossai, Brennan Eagles, D’Shawn Jamison and Joshua Moore, to name a few. Sure, there are guys who haven’t lived up to some expectations like Ayodele Adeoye and Al’vonte Woodard, and even B.J. Foster, who had a great freshman campaign, but has since come back down to earth, however he has also dealt with injuries. Four-star offensive lineman like Reese Moore and Rafiti Ghirmai haven’t made major impacts yet, but there is still time, and let’s see if a player like three-star DT Moro Ojomo takes the next step. Plus, if QB Casey Thompson becomes the starter this fall and a star, this class will look even better. Oh, and let’s not forget, this class has Dicker the Kicker!
3. West Virginia Mountaineers (2018 Ranking: 6)
Boy, there are a lot of names from this class that all Big 12 fans will know. Starting at the top is defensive end Dante Stills. Stills is one of the best defensive lineman in the conference. Also in the 2018 class is running back Leddie Brown, one of the most explosive backs in the Big 12. While the second-best prospect in the class, safety Kwantel Raines, transferred to Temple, look at all the other players on this team, especially on defense, who helped this unit become the best in the Big 12 last season: cornerback Keith Washington and linebacker Josh Chandler, along with Stills. Plus the plethora of wide receivers that got run in this class includes Sam James, Bryce Ford-Wheaton, and even TJ Banks. This was a very underrated class by former head coach Dana Holgorsen.
4. Oklahoma Sooners (2018 Ranking: 2)
Interestingly, the top 2 guys in this class: OT Brey Walker and CB Brendan Radley-Hiles didn’t meet expectations. Maybe they were unfairly high for Bookie, who was a starter, but is now transferring. But Walker has seen limited time after coming in as a Top 5 offensive tackle and Top 30 player nationally. The biggest miss in the class may have been DE Ron Tatum. But there are a ton of talented guys from this class, with the more notably ones on defense, led by Ronnie Perkins. But also, Nik Bonitto, Delarrin Turner-Yell, DeShaun White, Brian Asamoah and Pat Fields were in this class. And don’t forget about Jalen Redmond, who opted out of the 2020 season, but is coming back and will play a huge role in 2021. The offensive side of the ball was fairly limited, but this was a defense-heavy class and it’s worked out pretty darn well.
5. TCU Horned Frogs (2018 Ranking: 3)
Well in this class, Gary Patterson had one of the best 1-2 punches of any secondary in the entire country with Trevon Moehrig and ArDarius Washington. Moehrig ended up winning the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the top defensive back in America. Both were underrecruited three-star players who turned into stars and both will be selected in this year’s NFL Draft. The top recruit in this class was QB Justin Rogers, who famously suffered a knee injury in his senior season and never seemed to bounce back from it and has since left the program. Safety Antaza Vongor was a four-star prospect who also left TCU this offseason and was the No. 2 recruit for the Frogs. And unfortunately, the same can be said about the No. 3 recruit in the class in WR Tevailance Hunt, along with another WR prospect in John Stephens. But some solid skill players are in this class in Taye Barber and Pro Wells.
6. Baylor Bears (2018 Ranking: 4)
Well this class has turned out a lot of solid contributors in WR Tyquan Thornton, WR Josh Fleeks, and OT Connor Galvin. And maybe the best player in the class is safety Christian Morgan. However there are pieces in the class who have not yet lived up to expectations. QB Gerry Bohanon was the top recruit in the class and a late signing by former head coach Matt Rhule. Sure, it’s been Charlie Brewer’s team, but I’m not sure Bohanon is the guy based on what we’ve seen from him and Jacob Zeno. Elsewhere guys like BJ Hanspard and Josh Landry have played sparingly as well. It was a solid class, but not great.
7. Oklahoma State Cowboys (2018 Ranking: 5)
Well this class was led by QB Spencer Sanders and WR CJ Moore. Sanders has been the starter, but the jury is still out on whether or not he’s a guy who can help OSU win a Big 12 title. Meantime, CJ Moore is no longer with the program. Other top recruits in this class like Bryce Bray, Jayveon Cardwell and Jayveon Cardwell have also transferred out. Two of the other top prospects in this class, safety Sean Michael Flanagan and Jonathan Shepard have made very little impact. The stars of the class were some of the less-heralded recruits like safety Kolby Harvell-Peel and Tyler Lacy. But there isn’t much else.
8. Texas Tech Red Raiders (2018 Ranking: 10)
This class was classic Kliff Kingsbury: underrated offensive talent leading the way. This class included quarterback Alan Bowman, who had a great freshman season 2018 under Kingsbury, but injuries and a new coaching staff seemed to derail him, and he entered the transfer portal this offseason. Other offensive talent included Erik Ezukanma, one of the better wide receivers in the Big 12, with his running mate KeSean Carter. Also in this class are running backs SaRodorick Thompson and Ta’Zhawn Henry, the latter transferring to Houston. It was far from a great class, but it had talent, with most of it residing on the offensive side of the ball.
9. Kansas Jayhawks (2018 Ranking: 8)
Well, this Kansas class did have a gem in Pooka Williams. As was the case under David Beaty, this class was heavy on JUCO players who aren’t even with the program anymore. Azur Kamara was an honorable mention All-Big 12 selection for KU, plus WR Stephon Robinson looks like a solid player who just hasn’t had a decent QB to get him the ball. Otherwise, QB Miles Kendrick was in this class, but he has yet to showcase that he can be a starter at the Power 5 level.
10. Kansas State Wildcats (2018 Ranking: 9)
This was the last recruiting class for Bill Snyder and there weren’t the usual number of “diamonds in the rough” that Snyder made his name on at Kansas State. Phillip Brooks, one of the lowest recruits in the class, has made a great name for himself in the return game. Otherwise, recruits like QB John Holcombe has transferred, OT Justin Eichman never made a mark, safety Lance Robinson and FB Luke Sowa transferred. But players like WR Malik Knowles and CB Ekow Boye-Doe did work into starting positions. But for the most part, this class was another example that Snyder had lost his touch.
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