Grading the Big 12’s recruiting classes

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Randy Maltz is a die-hard sports fan, with passion for the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Longhorns. He is Founder & Editor of Silver and Blue Report and Hook 'em Report. He still idolizes Roger Staubach and Tom Landry.
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Grading the Big 12’s recruiting classes
Longhorns keep pace with Sooners at the top.

By Suzanne Halliburton AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
http://www.statesman.com/sports/longhorns/grading-the-big-12s-recruiting-classes-1232207.html

Cibolo Steele's Malcolm Brown is among the Longhorns' best signees, and one of the recruits most likely to see playing time this year. Texas earns an 'A' for its talented class  and for keeping it together after last year's struggles.

Grading a recruiting class is like judging a beauty contest who’s to say whether that quarterback Iowa State covets is any better than the one signed by Kansas State, or whether that Longhorns defensive lineman is really any better than the one Oklahoma secured but face it: Analyzing recruiting is fun and a nice distraction until spring football starts later this month.

No one can project the intangibles of who might get homesick or hurt or struggle in the classroom, but here’s a guess at who did the best in the Big 12:

Texas: A

The Longhorns get extra credit for keeping other schools from raiding a talented class even after Texas experienced its worst turmoil since 1997. But they hardly needed anything extra, filling pressing needs at running back, receiver, defensive line, linebacker and secondary.

There are holes everywhere. Running back Malcolm Brown probably has the best chance at playing time, while inside linebacker Steve Edmond is the star of the class. The most intriguing two players have thick orange blood. Is defensive back Quandre Diggs, currently in school, like his brother Quentin Jammer, a first-round pick in 2002? And will Jaxon Shipley catch as well as big brother Jordan, who had the best receiving season in school history in 2009?

The Longhorns’ knock? The Longhorns signed only one tight end, three-star M.J. McFarland, a former wide receiver. UT hasn’t had a true standout at the position since 2007, when Jermichael Finley was a sophomore.

Oklahoma : A

The Sooners didn’t need much of anything on offense, but were looking for a quality running back to replace DeMarco Murray. They got one in this small class of only 17 signees (as opposed to 29 from a year ago) in Brandon Williams. The buzz on Williams is he’s Oklahoma’s most coveted running back recruit since Adrian Peterson in 2004.

On defense, the Sooners needed help in the secondary and in the line. Their most intriguing signee may be safety Londell Taylor, who also was a member of the 2007 class. Taylor has spent the past four seasons playing minor-league baseball.

The Sooners’ knock? The class is small, so there’s not much room for error down the road if the scouting missed.

Texas Tech: A-

Tech unexpectedly received letters of intent from five undecided players on signing day. All were on defense — linemen and linebackers — which is a desperate need for Tech.

It’s also clear that Tommy Tuberville is trying to change offensive attitudes, signing four running backs and a tight end. There also were four receivers.

In all, he brought in six players for the spring semester and signed 21 for the fall.

The Red Raiders’ knock? The signing of defensive end Leon Mackey — one of the top-ranked junior college players in the country — may only be a tease. He’s had problems in the past qualifying academically for a Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship; he has signed with Virginia Tech and South Carolina in past years, but couldn’t get into school.

Oklahoma State: B

The Cowboys signed a huge class, with 28 players (19 are from Texas). And offensive-minded head coach Mike Gundy concentrated on defense, with 17 signatures.

But the two stars are offensive, including Abilene’s Herschel Sims, who stuck with Oklahoma State after a strong pitch from Auburn. Sims could challenge for immediate playing time to replace Kendall Hunter; the Cowboys had only two scholarship running backs before Wednesday.

Quarterback J.W. Walsh, a U.S. Army All-American Bowl participant, is in line to replace Weeden.

The Cowboys’ knock? Curiously, Oklahoma State signed only three in-state players. (The Sooners had two, but in a smaller class).

Texas A&M: B-

The Aggies didn’t sign many players with more than three stars by their names, so the question will be whether they found true diamonds-in-the-rough or a bunch of average players, since the class wasn’t ranked among the consensus national top 30.

A&M concentrated on finding defensive players for the 3-4, but the headliners could be quarterback Johnny Manziel — a Parade All-American — and offensive lineman Shayvion Hatten.

The Aggies’ knock? A&M created a huge, late-season buzz with its six-game winning streak. Yet they really couldn’t translate that into recruiting success against the top teams in the conference. They did entice Brandon Alexander away from Texas and convinced Manziel to decommit from Oregon, so perhaps that 2010 success will show itself a year from now.

Baylor: C

Baylor went heavy on heavy bodies, trying to shore up both lines. The star could be Cedar Park offensive lineman Spencer Drago. Eleven players are destined for defense to play for new coordinator Phil Bennett. The biggest signee could be defensive lineman Suleiman Masumbuko.

The Bears’ knock? Coach Art Briles was unable to keep an important player in Euless Trinity lineman Nila Kneubuhl, who’d been a Bears commitment for a year. Kneubuhl signed with Oklahoma .

Kansas: C

The Jayhawks wanted more speed and to shore up depth at offensive line, linebacker and the defensive line. And they signed six offensive linemen, six linebackers and four defensive ends in a class split evenly between offense and defense. However, the best recruit is running back Darrian Miller, who was the Missouri Gatorade player of the year as a junior. He’s enrolled for the spring.

The Jayhawks’ knock? In what could be a positive or a negative, coach Turner Gill said as many as 16 signees could play this fall. (Only one is a junior college player.) Three freshmen played in 2010.

Missouri: C-

The Tigers certainly didn’t sign many stars in a class of 17. The best signee, by far, is defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, a junior college transfer from College of the Sequoias. Richardson committed to the Tigers three years ago, but was forced to go the juco route. However, he very nearly signed with USC this year.

The Tigers’ knock? Missouri, which had no running game a year ago, didn’t sign a tailback .

Iowa State: D

Coach Paul Rhoads signed 22 players, with 14 of them coming to Ames from the warm-weather states of Texas, California and Florida. The class also includes four junior college transfers, including junior college quarterback Steele Jantz, who already is on campus to challenge for the starting job.

The Cyclones’ knock? There were no outright stars .

Kansas State: D

As per tradition, Bill Snyder relied heavily upon junior colleges . He signed eight out of a class of 32. Thirteen players already are in school. None is considered a consensus four-star recruit . An interesting name is defensive end Ian Seau, the nephew of NFL great Junior Seau.

The Wildcats’ knock? Relying on junior college players can be so hit or miss. But it’s been a staple for the Wildcats.

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