For the majority of Big 12 teams, recruiting is always going to be a difficult endeavor -- most of the geographic footprint of the conference sits over states that don't produce a great deal of talent every year, a list that includes Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, West Virginia and, to a lesser extent, Oklahoma. None of those states come close to producing enough high-level prospects to field a competitive team in a conference like the Big 12.
Only Texas produces a deep well of prospects each and every year, but there's something happening in Texas and it spells trouble for all the schools that recruit there in the Big 12, which is to say all of them, with the exception of the Mountaineers -- Dana Holgorsen's program hasn't cracked into the state yet.
4- and 5-stars signed: SEC 136 | Pac-12 51 | ACC 50 | Big Ten 49 | Big 12 31
Riding the crest of Texas A&M's move to the SEC, which gave the conference a foothold in the state by offering prospects the opportunity to stay at home and play in the nation's best league, and the hype accompanying the conference winning national championships each and every season, SEC schools are now poaching the top talent from the state of Texas as the state's flagship program, the Texas Longhorns, have flagged and as Oklahoma has looked nationally for prospects.
Consider that the state's top defensive end, defensive tackle, safety and cornerback all went to the SEC. All told, eight of the top 20 players in the state will play under the brightest lights in college football and only one of them plays on the offensive side of the ball -- wide receiver Frank Iheanacho, a U.S. Army All-American from Houston headed to Texas A&M.
Even Oklahoma lost out on local defensive end Deondre Clark of Oklahoma City Douglass to LSU and faced a battle to the end with Texas A&M and Auburn for Steven Parker, though the Sooners were always the favorite.
Right now, the best defensive players in Texas want to play in the SEC and Big 12 schools are feeling the hit.
For nearly the entirety of the process, the Longhorns had the top-rated class in the conference and dominated the All-Big 12 recruit team, with 10 commits on the first team in September, but a late surge and big National Signing Day for Oklahoma vaulted it past Texas in overall class rankings
It started in early January at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, when the nation's top all-purpose back, Joe Mixon, committed to Oklahoma, continuing the rise of Sooner recruiting momentum in California, a state head coach Bob Stoops has made the centerpiece of his recruiting efforts as the Sooners have lost ground in Texas.
Fellow Under Armour All-American Natrell Curtis, a three-star offensive guard, followed Mixon two days later. In the days before Signing Day, Oklahoma also added defensive tackle Courtney Garnett, a former Texas pledge, safety Jordan Thomas, and yet another big coup the day before Signing Day in star safety and Oklahoma native Steven Parker.
On Signing Day, the fireworks continued with the addition of four-star wide receiver Michiah Quick, another Californian, offensive tackle Kenyon Frison, and offensive lineman Orlando Brown.
By the time the class was finished, the Sooners had landed four of the top five offensive linemen in the conference
As other schools took advantage of the coaching changes at Texas, the Longhorns lost ground on the list as the program was hit for a second year by a wave of decommitments -- all told, new head coach Charlie Strong lost five prospects who would have made this list, including linebacker Otaro Alaka and defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson to Texas A&M. LSU, meanwhile, swiped defensive end Sione Teuhema and defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatao, while the aforementioned Garnett ended up in crimson and cream.
Notice similarities there? All were defensive players from the sate of Texas, exactly the type that are becoming increasingly enamored with the cachet of playing in the SEC.
Only the additions of four-star defensive tackle Poona Ford and four-star safety/outside linebacker Edwin Freeman made this list of the final five commitments for Strong and his staff -- the incoming talent was not as highly-rated as the outgoing talent.
Wide Receiver U
Don't look now, but Baylor is increasingly becoming a destination of choice for top wide receivers in the state of Texas. In fact, the Bears signed three rated four stars or higher after landing Under Armour All-American Robbie Rhoads in 2013, the nation's No. 2 wide receiver and the top player in Texas by 247Sports.
Now head coach Art Briles and company are adding the top deep threat in the state for the second consecutive year in KD Cannon, two-way high school star Davion Hall will ply his talents offensively despite having clear NFL upside at safety, and state track champion Ishmael Zamora will attempt to unlock his significant upside as a pass-catcher after working mostly as a blocker in high school.
Briles isn't having to develop under recruited talent at the position now, as he did with players like Terrance Williams, Tevin Reese, and Antwan Goodley -- he's beating out other top regional programs for the top wide receivers in the state.
|Jerrod Heard||Denton (Texas) Guyer||4||Texas|
|Heard is a 6'3, 190-pound dual threat who led his team to a state championship last year as he gained more than 2,000 yards on the ground. An improving passer, Heard is a member of the Elite 11.|
|Joe Mixon||Oakley (Calif.) Freedom||5||Oklahoma|
|The nation's top all-purpose back projects as a weapon as a receiver, has good top-end speed, and can break tackles with his size.|
|Varshaun Nixon||Austin (Texas) Lake Travis||4||TCU|
|A strong fit for the zone running game employed by every spread offense, Nixon is a decisive one-cut runner who is willing to plant his foot and get upfield, where he can take it the distance with his high-effort running style.|
|KD Cannon||Mount Pleasant (Texas)||5||Baylor|
|The only consensus five-star player committed to a Big 12 program, Cannon is an elite deep threat who has a knack for getting open down the field, even though his speed is not elite.|
|Davion Hall||Texarkana (Texas) Liberty-Eylau||4||Baylor|
|Hall was a two-way threat in high school who has tremendous upside as a safety, but will play wide receiver at Baylor.|
|Michiah Quick||Fresno (Calif.) Central East||4||Oklahoma|
|Quick is rated as one of the top athletes in the country and should fit in well with the Sooners receiving corps.|
|Carson Meier||Tulsa (Okla.) Union||3||Oklahoma|
|Meier has a nice mix of receiving and blocking ability for a high school tight end in an age when many are used almost exclusively at wide receiver, though he will have to add some mass to his 220-pound frame before he's ready to play with his hand in the dirt in college.|
|Natrell Curtis||Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe||3||Oklahoma|
|The US Army All-American is a massive guard (330 pounds) who excels blocking in the run game because of his strength.|
|Kenyon Frison||Salt Lake City (Utah) Granger||3||Oklahoma|
|Frison is a well-rounded tackle with good size and athleticism.|
|Alex Dalton||Troy (Ohio)||3||Oklahoma|
|A high school right tackle who is on the short side for his position (6'4), the Sooners are likely to play Dalton inside at center in college.|
|Ty Barrett||Dallas (Texas) Skyline||3||TCU|
|Barrett is raw, but once he smooths out his game, he should be a multi-year starter for the Horned Frogs.|
|Orlando Brown||Suwanee (Ga.) Peachtree Ridge||3||Oklahoma|
|Brown has worked to reduce his weight from 370 pounds to 340 pounds and will have to continue to reshape his body to reach his significant potential.|
|Derick Roberson||San Antonio (Texas) Brennan||4||Texas|
|The defensive end has a freakish combination of athleticism and advanced technical ability for his age.|
|Poona Ford||Hilton Head Island (S.C.) Hilton Head||4||Texas|
|Undersized at right about 6'0, Ford makes up for it with insane quickness, long arms, and a motor that runs on every play.|
|Jordan Brailford||Tulsa (Okla.) Booker T Washington||3||Oklahoma State|
|Brailford needs to add mass (he's currently 220 pounds), but his speed off the edge is impressive with a listed 4.50 40.|
|Trey Carter||Dallas (Texas) Pinkston||3||Oklahoma State|
|Carter was a late-rising prospect with a big frame and strong athleticism.|
|Edwin Freeman||Arlington (Texas) Bowie||4||Texas|
|Freeman transitioned to linebacker in high school after playing safety and excelled there, so it's likely he stays at that position in college.|
|Gyasi Akem||Broken Arrow (Okla.)||4||Oklahoma State|
|The physical tackler with sideline-to-sideline range will join his high school teammate Thomas in Stillwater.|
|T'Kevian Rockwell||Wylie (Texas)||4||Baylor|
|At 6'0 and 202 pounds, Rockwell is undersized for a linebacker, but could play a hybrid nickel position like current Baylor star Ahmad Dixon. Rockwell hits like a linebacker and moves like a safety, but will have to increase his test scores to make into school.|
|Andrew Beck||Tampa (Fla.) Plant||3||Texas|
|The early enrollee was an aggressive and physical tackler in high school, but could end up playing H-back for the Longhorns.|
|Steven Parker||Jenks (Okla.)||4||Oklahoma|
|Parker has a lanky frame that needs to add some weight, but he has fantastic range and a wide tackling radius.|
|Dravon Henry||Aliquippa (Penn.)||4||West Virginia|
|Henry, listed as an athlete, will play in the secondary for the Mountaineers. He has good ball-tracking skills and is also comfortable in run support.|
|John Bonney||Houston (Texas) Lamar||4||Texas|
|A versatile prospect who plays cornerback and safety for Lamar, Bonney has strong ball skills and instincts, though his lack of speed will probably force him to play safety in college.|
|Chris Hardeman||Houston (Texas) Alief Taylor||4||Oklahoma State|
|The former LSU pledge will join his high school teammate Keenen Brown in Stillwater. Undersized at 5'8, Hardeman is physical and looks like a strong candidate to play nickel back in college.|
|Payton Hendrix||Dallas (Texas) Bishop Dunne||3||Texas Tech|
|Hendrix is another rangy safety with great size for the position at 6'3.|
|Justice Hansen||Edmond (Okla.) Sante Fe||4||Oklahoma|
|Hansen has a stong arm and is capable of making plays with his legs.|
|Donald Catalon||Houston (Texas) Eisenhower||4||Texas|
|An accomplished receiver, Catalon also battled health issues as a junior, and there are also some concerns that he's primarily a straight-line back, but he is a home-run threat with subtle moves.|
|Devon Thomas||Broken Arrow (Okla.)||4||Oklahoma State|
|Thomas has great natural talent, though his production in high school declined after his sophomore season.|
|Allen Lazard||Urbandale (Iowa)||4||Iowa State|
|Lazard was a standout at The Opening and will bring exceptional ball skills to the Iowa State receiving corps.|
|Armanti Foreman||Texas City (Texas)||4||Texas|
|Foreman's combination of speed and agility make him a big-play threat.|
|Mark Andrews||Scottsdale (Ariz.) Desert Mountain||4||Oklahoma|
|At 6'6 and 230 pounds, Andrews could end up growing into a tight end, but wants to stay at the receiver position, where he projects as a possession receiver with the capability of making a difference in the redzone with his height and ability to high-point the football.|
|Jordan Feuerbacher||Humble (Texas) Kingwood Park||3||Baylor|
|Feuerbacher's size and experience make him the top dual-threat tight end in the state because of his proven ability to block and catch.|
|Dalton Risner||Wiggins (Colo.)||3||Kansas State|
|One of the top centers in the West, Risner has the pure size at 6'5 to play tackle in college if necessary.|
|Terrell Cuney||Jasper (Texas)||3||Texas|
|Ranked as one of the top centers in the country, Cuney is a mobile prospect who excels at the second level, but needs to add mass to compete in college.|
|Dontae Angus||Philadelphia (Penn.) King Martin Luther||3||West Virginia|
|The former Florida commit made his intentions to attend West Virginia public with his signature on Signing Day and has college-ready size at 6'6, 300 pounds.|
|Josh Pelzel||Rockdale (Texas)||3||Baylor|
|Pelzel has tackle height at 6'7, but guard size (330 pounds). How well he can maintain his leverage on the interior at that height will ultimately determine his upside.|
|Jacob Bragg||Nacogdoches (Texas)||3||Kansas|
|The Opening alum and Under Armour All-American is a prospect with the massive strength to hold the point of attack from his center position.|
|Jarrell Owens||Palestine (Texas)||3||Oklahoma State|
|The high school running back will transition to defensive end in college, but may need some time to translate his athleticism into production because he'll have to learn his technique from scratch.|
|DJ Williams||Lufkin (Texas)||3||Kansas|
|When Williams stays low and uses proper hand placement, he can be a disruptive force on the interior.|
|Courtney Garnett||New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine||3||Oklahoma|
|Garnett lacks the gap-penetrating ability of a future three-technique defensive tackle, so he'll likely play lined up over the center in college.|
|Jake McMillon||Abilene (Texas)||3||Texas|
|A possible swing player in college, McMillon makes up for his lack of high-level athleticism with a motor that runs hot.|
|Davonte James||Springfield (Ohio)||3||West Virginia|
|James already has good size at 6'3, 220 pounds, but lacks ideal quickness for his position.|
|Josh Mabin||Spring (Texas) Klein Oak||3||Oklahoma State|
|Mabin is an explosive, hard-hitting linebacker who projects as an excellent downhill run defender.|
|Kyron Watson||East St. Louis (ill.)||3||Kansas|
|Watson's speed makes him a rangy prospect and his toughness makes him an effective tackler with good physicality for his size.|
|Curtis Bolton||Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrietta||3||Oklahoma|
|Bolton projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the Oklahoma scheme and showed off his edge-rushing prowess in high school with 29 sacks during his career.|
|Nigel Bethel||Miami (Fla.) Booker T Washington||3||Texas Tech|
|Bethel is an excellent cover corner who will have to use his athleticism to overcome his lack of ideal size at 5'9.|
|Jermaine Roberts||New Orleans (La.) St. Augustine||3||Texas|
|At 5'9, Roberts doesn't have ideal size either, but his other skills are worthy of a four-star prospect, especially his speed and playmaking ability.|
|Jordan Thomas||Springt (Texas) Klein Collins||3||Oklahoma|
|The instincts of Thomas help put him in position to make plays in the passing game, where the ball skills he developed as a part-time high school wide receiver allow him to finish plays.|
|DaeJaun Funderburk||Washington (DC) Friendship Acadmey||3||West Virginia|
|At 6'1 and with reported 4.50 40, Funderburk has a nice combination of size and speed for his position.|
|Nick Foster||Keller (Texas) Fossil Ridge||3||TCU|
|The longtime TCU commit has the speed (4.42 40) to become a lock-down cornerback in college.|