A lot of things are changing in the Big 12 Conference, including the planned addition of two new teams starting next fall. But just as in the movie "Ground Hog Day," when National Signing Day in college football rolls around at this time every year, the same story seems to repeat itself year in and year out in the Big 12 when it comes to luring and landing high school football prospects.
When the smoke and paper avalanche finally cleared late Wednesday from overworked fax machines delivering signed commitments from talented recruits who will be matriculating to the college level this fall, the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners again boasted the strongest Big 12 recruiting classes, as it has been practically every year for the past decade.
Depending on which national recruiting rankings you reference, the 2012 signing class at Texas is either rated the best in the country (Scout.com), No. 2 (Rivals.com) or No. 3 (ESPN). Both ESPN and Rivals gave Alabama the nod as having the best recruiting class of 2012.
The Longhorns signed 28 players, including two five-star recruits in running backs Jonathan Gray and Trey Williams. Both players are ranked in the top-15 overall in the ESPNU 150. The Texas recruiting class also features 15 players who have been rated as four-star prospects. Over the last five years, coach Mack Brown's recruiting classes at Texas have ranked no lower than No, 5 in the country, and the last four years the Longhorns have been third, according to Rivals.com.
Texas' 2012 class in heavy is defensive recruits with 19 defensive players, eight on offense and one special-teams prospect. Rivals ranked the Longhorns second in the country in defensive line recruits and at the linebacker position and seventh at running back. Eleven of Texas' 28 recruiting commitments are ranked as top prospects in the ESPNU 150.
Rivals.com and Scout.com rated Bob Stoops' 2012 signees at Oklahoma as a top-ten recruiting class (tenth by Rivals; eighth by Scout) and No. 11, based on ESPN's team rankings. The Sooners signed 25 recruits (17 on offense and 8 on defense), including five wide receivers rated by Rivals as the best wide-receiver recruiting class in the country. OU was also in the hunt late for the services of Dorial Green-Beckham, rated as the top wide receiver and No. 3 recruit overall in the country. Green-Beckham ended up signing with Missouri, which will be playing in the Southeastern Conference when football season rolls around in the fall.
Oklahoma also brought in the country's fourth best class at tight end, and ranked No. 14 at running back, an area of high need for the Sooners in the coming season. OU's signing class not only is highly touted, as it seems to be almost every year since Bob Stoops became the head coach, but also is more geographically diverse than it has even been. Oklahoma's 2012 commitments come from 11 different states ranging from Florida to California.
Missouri is leaving the Big 12, but Gary Pinkel and his staff produced a strong recruiting effort to go along with the Tigers' debut season in the SEC. In addition to signing the No. 1 wide receiver coming out of high school, Mizzou stayed in state to sign the No.2-rated offensive guard in the country in Evan Boehm from Lee's Summit West High School in Kansas City. Overall, ESPN rated Missouri's 2012 class the 20th best in the nation. Texas A&M, which will be joining Missouri in the SEC this fall, ranked 15th on National Signing Day (ESPN), with 21 signees, including one five-star and five four-star commitments.
Texas Tech, which finished near the bottom of the Big 12 last season after pulling off one of the biggest upsets of the year in defeating then No. 1-ranked Oklahoma in Norman, produced the third best recruiting class in the conference for the coming season and 22nd best in the country, according to Scout.com. Coach Tommy Tubberville and his staff also signed the third-best class in the conference a year ago (taking away Missouri and Texas A&M). The Red Raiders received 27 commitments, including from four players considered to be four-star prospects.
Defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma State was fifth in the Big 12 and ranked 28th by Scout.com in the national team recruiting rankings. The Cowboys' highest-rated recruit is Dominic Ramacher, a six-foot-three, 225-pound four-star tight end out of Denton, Texas. Baylor, with a surprise third-place conference finish in the 2011 season, signed 24 in its 2012 class, including three four-star recruits, good enough for 30th place nationally, according to Scout.com.
TCU, which has played in the Mountain West Conference the past seven seasons, was recruiting for its first season as a member of the Big 12, beginning in the fall. The Horned Frogs signed 22 to their 2012 recruiting class, ranked in the mid-30s by Scout.com, in a group that also includes three four-star commits. West Virginia, the other new school that will join the Big 12, either this year or in 2013, depending on the outcome of a pending legal challenge by the Big East, assembled the 26th-best recruiting class nationally per Scout.com.
The two Kansas schools, Kansas State and Kansas, were ranked 85th and 98th, respectively, by Scout.com. Kansas State's 26-member class includes six defensive linemen and three defensive backs. On the offensive side, the Wildcats signed a quarterback, three running backs, five wide receivers, a tight end and three offensive linemen. Like Oklahoma, a good number of the Kansas State recruits are from outside of the state. Only five come from Kansas. The rest are from 11 different states.
The recruiting class at Kansas includes 11 offensive players and nine on defense. The class includes three mid-year transfers, the biggest of which was former Notre Dame quarterback recruit Dayne Crist, a five-star prospect. The Jayhawks also are bringing in another five-star quarterback recruit, Jake Heaps, a transfer from Brigham Young.
Ranked by conferences, Scout.com placed the Big 12 recruiting effort third behind the SEC and the Pac-12.
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