The unique 50/50 split of Texas and Oklahoma fans in the Cotton Bowl every year is matched on the recruiting trail, as only the home team is allowed to host recruits.
As the home team this season, the Oklahoma Sooners are hosting several top 2013 targets and numerous 2014 targets in attendance for the 2012 edition of the Red River Rivalry, an arrangement that alternates every season as the Sooners and Texas Longhorns switch between acting as the home and away team.
Among the 2013 prospects are Plano (TX) Prestonwood Christian linebacker Mike Mitchell, top defensive tackle target, and several players committed to other schools, including Arizona State pledge Dimarya Mixon, a defensive end from West Mesquite (TX), defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo of Houston (TX) Alief Taylor, committed to Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M commit Kerrick Huggins, a defensive tackle from powerhouse Dallas (TX) Skyline.
While there are several important targets there, particularly Manning, the Sooners already have two defensive end commits in the class, slightly decreasing the significance of those visits in terms of the overall 2013 needs for Oklahoma.
As a result, the real star power that will be in attendance will be members of the 2014 class, many of whom have offers from both the Sooners and Longhorns, while none of the 2013 prospects are currently being recruited by Texas.
The list reads like a who's who of the 2014 class, with many going to be in attendance to watch both teams.
Among the top prospects are Coppell (TX) defensive end, Mansfield (TX) Timberview defensive backs Edward Paris and Brandon Simmons, Lancaster (TX) safety Nick Harvey, Dallas (TX) Bishop Dunne cornerback , Dallas (TX) Carter linebacker Cameron Hampton, Lewisville (TX) Hebron safety Jamal Adams, and offensive tackle Demetrius Knox of Fort Worth (TX) All Saints.
And those are just the elite prospects from the Metroplex.
Making the journey in from Alvin (TX) Manvel is tight end Koda Martin, who is teammates with 2013 Oklahoma pledge Austin Bennett, a wide receiver previously committed to Arkansas, while cornerback Darrion Johnson will make his way from Brenham (TX), and wide receiver Kd Cannon from Mount Pleasant (TX).
Several of the top prospects from Oklahoma will also be there -- Justice Hansen, a quarterback prospect from Edmond Sante Fe, running back Devon Thomas from Broken Arrow, and defensive end Deondre Clark, who hails from state power Oklahoma City Douglass. All three will be important targets in the 2014 class for the Sooners.
With the exception of the Oklahoma prospects, plus Johnson and Martin, all of the top 2014 players have offers from both schools, which have not been engaged in as many head-to-head recruiting battles as in previous years.
When the schools have battled, the Longhorns have more often than not been coming out on top. Of the 32 prospects on Texas and Oklahoma rosters who held offers from both schools, 27 of those players currently suit up for the Texas Longhorns ($).
Whether that's a result of Texas simply doing a better job on the recruiting trail, Oklahoma strategically withdrawing from the state to pursue prospects nationally, or some other factor, the result is that the Sooners no longer represent the major competition for the Longhorns on the recruiting trail, a change from the last decade, when Texas lost out on high-profile recruits like Adrian Peterson and Rhett Bomar, among others.
Will the game be a determining factor in which school secures commitments from those elite players? History suggests not, but that won't decrease the significance of the game for both teams, as well as the ultimate significance of which team secures their commitment.