Longhorns Steer Big 12 to Big Signing Day
He's been rewarded with highly ranked recruiting classes, and this year's take is no different. The Longhorns, with their usual grab of Parade All-Americans and four- and five-star recruits, pulled in another stellar class during Wednesday's National Signing Day.
The 25-member class -- which is highlighted by star defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, the player rated No.1 overall in the country by some recruiting services, and No.1 outside linebacker prospect Jordan Hicks, of West Chester, Ohio -- is being touted as the second-best collection of incoming players in the nation. Florida, the 2008 BCS national champion, is No.1 by a very slim margin.
The Longhorns were already impressive with commitments from players like Mike Davis, the No.2 receiver in the nation and the nation's second-best defensive end, Taylor Bible, along with Hicks. But the class took a huge step forward Friday when Plano (Tx.) West's Jeffcoat, the son of former Dallas Cowboy Jim Jeffcoat, committed to UT over Oklahoma, Arizona State, USC and University of Houston (his dad is the defensive line coach of the Cougars).
"Obviously Texas is the big winner," Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Barry Every said to FanHouse on Wednesday when asked to assess recruiting in the Big 12. "In any other year the Texas class would have been No.1. Florida went nuts and got four five-stars. But there is no question that Texas, by far, had the best class. It's not even close."
In all, the Longhorns pulled in seven Parade All-Americans, three first team USA Today All-USA members, 17 All-Americans, 15 from ESPNU's Top 150 and 20 who were listed among all-state players.
The success in recruiting seems to have everything to do with the model of consistency the Longhorns have been under Brown, posting at least nine wins in each of his 12 seasons. Texas, of course, advanced to the BCS National Championship game last month, where it lost to Alabama and finished second in the country. It marked the 10th year in a row the Longhorns have finished the year ranked in the Top 15, which includes seven Top 10 finishes and five Top 5 rankings.
"Some will want to compare this group to some of the other great classes we've had at Texas, and based on their accomplishments coming out of high school, they have the potential to be in that conversation," said Brown, whose .831 winning percentage makes him the winningest coach in nation over the last 14 years. "But, as a staff, we've been doing this for a long time and we'll evaluate them in four or five years at the end of their run and not now. That said, we will prepare all of these guys to play this season and I expect many of them will.
"This class, along with the outstanding young players we have returning next season, will provide immediate help and also be a great foundation for success in years to come."
But Texas was far from alone in being able to celebrate a stellar class Wednesday. Oklahoma and Bob Stoops also lured in a Top 5 class, while Texas A&M was in the Top 20 on most recruiting analysts' boards.
The Big 12 and SEC were the only two conferences represented in the Top 5 recruiting classes. Auburn and Alabama rounded out the SEC's trio.
"I think the league did well," said Brandon Williams, a Houston-based recruiting analyst for Scout.com. "The strength of Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M made it an impressive year for the Big 12."
Like Texas, the Sooners brought in a big class that certainly seems to address many of its needs. All-purpose running backs Brennan Clay out of San Diego's Scripps Ranch and Roy Finch out of Niceville, Fla., seem to have the best chance for immediate impact.
But the Sooners also managed a coup on the defensive side of the ball when 6-foot, 210-pound outside linebacker Corey Nelson, who is out of Dallas' Skyline, switched his commitment from Texas A&M to Oklahoma on Tuesday night and signed his national letter of intent with the Sooners on Wednesday morning.
Stoops' class was at 28, though he was still awaiting one more recruit to make it through the NCAA clearinghouse. As he discussed the class with the media Wednesday afternoon, he seemed especially pleased to have expanded OU's recruiting base beyond the usual fertile grounds of Texas and Oklahoma this year.
"When you look at our class, it's a national class," Stoops said. "Over the years, I guess, for a lot of different reasons, we have a lot of attention nationally and we are able to recruit from California to Florida. We got some great and talented guys from across the country. That just shows the overall strength of the program, being able to go into California, down to Florida and get three of the top guys out of the state of Kansas. That kind of thing is really exciting for us."
A&M also had a good showing, despite the unexpected loss of Nelson. The Aggies went strong at their most glaring weakness the past few seasons and the area of expertise for head coach Mike Sherman, which has been offensive line.
Texas A&M's 24-member class included five offensive line recruits. The group is highlighted by Parade All-Americans Jake Matthews out of Missouri City's Elkins High School and 6-foot-7, 290-pound offensive tackle Shep Klinke out of Katy, Texas. Matthews is the son of former A&M offensive line great and NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews.
"A&M had the best offensive line class in the country," Every said. "There is no question about that. They have two or three guys who are going to play as true freshmen. A lot of that has to do with their offensive line is just so thin."
While Nebraska's recruiting class did not break into the national Top 25, it was the fourth-best haul in the Big 12 with several quality recruits. Head coach Bo Pelini reached back into his Ohio roots to lure running back Braylon Heard out of Youngstown Cardinal Mooney. The Cornhuskers also appear to be moving away from the pro-style quarterback with the signing of athletic Brion Carnes out of Manatee High School in Bradenton, Fla.
Carnes, who had been committed to South Florida for the longest time, is the cousin of former Nebraska All-American quarterback Tommy Frazier.
Contact FanHouse senior writer Terrance Harris at email@example.com.