Big 12 recruiting: Horns try to finish strong, Wildcats flip star defensive tackle

Erich Schlegel

With National Signing Day rapidly approaching, numerous Big 12 schools had important recruiting weekends.

Kansas State Wildcats

The biggest pledge of the weekend in the Big 12 came in for a school that is known for taking under recruited prospects and turning them into excellent collegiate players. So the commitment of Dodge City CC (Kansas) defensive tackle Terrell Clinkscales was unusual because Clinkscale is a consensus four-star prospect and the top junior college defensive tackle in the country according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, though it is certainly quite familiar to see head coach Bill Snyder tap into the junior college ranks.

Clinkscale took to Twitter over the weekend to announce that he was decommitting from the Nebraska Cornhuskers and committing to the Wildcats, a big recruiting win for Kansas State over their former Big Eight and Big 12 rival:

At 6'4 and 310 pounds, Clinkscales is a massive physical presence on the interior of the defensive line, where he can use his size and strength to hold the point of attack -- if Clinkscales can fulfill his significant potential, running the football just got a little bit harder for the rest of the Big 12 against Kansas State.

The recent news hasn't all been good for Kansas State on the recruiting trail, however, as the UCLA Bruins secured a commitment on Monday from Houston (Texas) Summer Creek quarterback Aaron Sharp, a track star with remarkable accuracy who had been committed to Kansas State since late June of 2012. He had just taken an official visit to Westwood to see the UCLA program and represents a significant loss for the Wildcats as the only quarterback commit in the class at the time of his decommitment.

Oklahoma Sooners

A weekend visit from Spring (Texas) Klein Collins safety Jordan Thomas was enough to convince the high school two-way standout to flip his verbal pledge to the Sooners from the Northwestern Wildcats. The consensus three-star prospect had been committed to Northwestern since 2012 and also held offers from Oklahoma State and Utah. Ranked as a near four-star prospect by 247Sports, Thomas is a top-40 safety nationally in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Oklahoma also hosted New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine defensive tackle Courtney Garnett and local product Deondre Clark, a heralded four-star defensive end from Oklahoma City (Okla.) Douglass who is currently committed to LSU. Garnett was formerly pledged to Texas and faces qualification concerns, while the industry consensus is that the Sooners have a chance to flip Clark from the Tigers, as his Crystal Ball predictions have been trending heavily in favor of home-state Oklahoma in recent days.

For more on where recruiting stands for Oklahoma with National Signing Day rapidly approaching, Crimson and Cream Machine hosted SoonerScoop's Josh McCuistion on the Sooner Nation podcast.

Texas Longhorns

The Horns hosted an important visit weekend, as several top targets made their way to Austin and several commitments came to town in order to solidify their own pledges after speaking with the new coaching staff.

The most important visitor was Hilton Head Island (S.C.) Hilton Head offensive tackle Poona Ford, who also has official visits planned to Oregon and Missouri. According to 247Sports, those visits may not happen after Ford discusses his options with his family, as Ford also said that the Horns are "definitely the favorite ($)" following his trip to Austin.

The consensus four-star prospect would fill a major need for Texas after the Horns suffered three decommitments at the position following the departure of former defensive tackles coach Bo Davis.

The two visitors on commitment watch over the weekend were Dallas (Texas) Carter all-purpose back Corey Avery and Ennis (Texas) safety Jah'shawn Johnson, a Texas Tech commit. Rivals is reporting an offer for Avery, who will take visits to Nebraska and Kansas before National Signing Day, but 247Sports does not believe that he received one. Meanwhile, the Texas staff decided not to offer Johnson.

Another visitor had also been on commitment watch and pulled the trigger on Monday evening -- New Orleans (La.) O Perry Walker offensive guard Alex Anderson, a consensus three-star prospect who had been committed to the Arizona State Sun Devils. The mobile, light-footed Anderson was a target of new Texas offensive coordinator Joe Wickline while at Oklahoma State and Anderson had appeared ready to flip his pledge to the Pokes.

After visiting Texas, Anderson went to Arizona State before deciding that he wanted to play for Wickline.

Official visits for Under Armour All-Americans and committed prospects Derick Roberson, a four-star defensive end from San Antonio (Brennan), and Jermaine Roberts, a cornerback from New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine, were equally important to keep both in the fold.

Roberson is the highest-rated defender at a position where the Horns have little proven depth. After publicly musing about the possibility of taking visits at various points in his recruitment, it now appears that Roberson is locked in and will sign with the Longhorns.

And Roberts isn't quite as highly-rated, but the new Texas staff had more work to do with the playmaking Louisiana prospect, as he was planning on visiting Ohio State after his official visit to Austin. Roberts was active on social media during the weekend, posting pictures with head coach Charlie Strong and Texas guard Javan Felix and then told 247Sports that the visit solidified his commitment ($), so he won't be making the journey to planned journey to Columbus.

Beyond the visitors who made it to Austin, the Longhorns also had two high-profile pledges who were on official visits to other schools over the weekend. While Houston (Texas) Cypress Falls linebacker Otaro Alaka had made plans to trip to College Station to see the Aggies for some time, the surprise visit was that of Houston (Texas) Lamar safety to Auburn. Alaka is a serious candidate to decommit from the Horns with another official visit set up to LSU next weekend, but Bonney is expected to maintain his Texas pledge.

TCU Horned Frogs

After flipping potentially elite deep threat Emanuel Porter back from Texas last week, TCU flipped another prospect over the weekend, as Munday (Texas) defensive end LJ Collier decided to follow former Red Raider co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie.

There's more going on there, as Texas Tech was apparently concerned about Collier's grades and had essentially moved on, but TCU was willing to take a chance on him because the Horned Frogs have had trouble adding bodies to a 2014 recruiting class that now only sits at 16 pledges with two in the last week.

The class is currently ranked ahead of only Iowa State and Kansas in the Big 12, not exactly where TCU wants to be with expectations of becoming competitive with the second tier of conference foes like Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. Head coach Gary Patterson is nearly as well known as Bill Snyder for developing overlooked talent and will have little margin of error as he tries to do so again unless the Horned Frogs can get hot before Signing Day to fill out the class.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Head coach Kliff Kingsbury and his staff have been working hard to add players along the defensive line, a weakness the Red Raiders have been trying to address for some time with little success thanks to some high-profile attrition there.

With Collier out of the picture, Tech moved on Brandon Thorpe, a 6'5, 275-pound defensive end from Highland CC (Kansas), an important addition because he has the ability to play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, defensive end in a 3-4, or play three-technique defensive tackle, though the greater immediate need will probably be at defensive end since there are already three defensive tackles in the Texas Tech 2014 class.

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