Friday, October 30, 2015

Checking in on Big 12 recruiting

Recruiting doesn't always get a ton of play at this time of the year, mainly because we're all caught up in the football that's taking place on Saturdays, but I thought I'd check in on how things were going and give some brief thoughts.

What I've done is taken the highest ranked player, per 247, from each Big 12 team and I'm going to give some of my thoughts on how much they offer that team. I'm going to go in order of how 247 has ranked the Big 12 teams' current classes.

Personally I don't think much of recruiting rankings and will offer my own thoughts on each class in February but 247 does a good job of organizing and presenting all the info to be digested by fans. Anyways, here we go:

1. TCU's Isaiah Chambers

6-4, 258, strongside end, 4-star rating
Houston, TX (Aldine MacArthur HS)

Chambers will be an interesting case study in TCU DL development post-Bumpas. While explosive and athletic, he's already close to being as large as some of their defensive tackles and will likely be so after getting plugged into the Frog S&C program.

What Patterson may have here is an explosive 3-tech that makes their stunts and four-man rush absolutely devastating. But he's also fast enough in his first steps and taking the edge to stay outside at end, even at 270 or so. He should be a load either way and his ability to make darting movements in a box while make him a great fit in that defense.

Cornerstone rating: 4/5
Chambers could be a foundational piece for the TCU defense in the future as a disruptive and play-making DL.

2. Baylor's Patrick Hudson

6-6, 325, left tackle, 5-star rating
Silsbee, TX (Silsbee HS)

The problem with 5-star rankings is that they tend to go to the players that have the kinds of measurables and skills as 17 year olds that you want from players that are 21 and several years into college. Well...the list of players that will have ideal measurables and skills as 21 year olds aren't going to be recognized as such when they're 17.

Hudson is the rare high schooler with NFL-caliber size and athleticism, so naturally he's given five stars, although it would likely be a few years before he was ready to compete at left tackle for Briles. Watch his tape and you'll see a kid with good flexibility and overwhelming power who bulldozes DL on goal line plays almost like he's going up against a sled on a routine drill.

Obviously he's listed at tackle for a reason, but I agree with my man Jamie Uyeyuma that he may end up on the right side or at guard. The Baylor offense pulls just about everyone so his greatest strength, blocking on the move, could translate at either tackle or guard. I think where he ends up at Baylor will depend on whether his ability to be a mobile wall translates to protections or if he's better as a tool in the running game.

Cornerstone rating: 4/5
I'm not sure if Hudson will be groomed into a stud left tackle like Spencer Drango but I do think he'll at least be a starter and a major weapon in the run game.

3. Texas Tech's TJ Vasher

6-5, 180, wide receiver, 4-star rating
Wichita Falls, TX (Rider HS)

Most guys this tall take a moment to get up to speed, but then they're gone, Vasher is actually quicker in his first few steps than he is in 4th gear and there is no 5th gear.

That's actually what you want from a big WR, well not the lack of a 5th gear, but for them to be quick enough to get open and to have reliable hands. A 6'5" dude who can get open easily makes for an easy target both in the possession passing game as well as on vertical routes.

Vasher reminds me somewhat of Josh Doctson and he could have a similar role in a few years.

Cornerstone rating: 3/5
Vasher seems a good candidate to be a guy that can command double teams and at least a guy that will be a big, reliable target on the outside.

4. West Virginia's Steven Smothers

5-10, 152, wide receiver, 4-star
Reisterstown, MD (Franklin HS)

Smothers is another legit 4.5 burner of the sort that Dana Holgorsen regularly brings into the Mountaineer fold. He's taken to using these burners at outside receiver where his run game and bigger formations allow them to operate in open spaces but he could also end up in the slot.

Smothers strikes me as more of an outside guy for whom football can be simplifed to "beat them outside, beat them inside, or if you can't do either turn around, come back and catch it."

Cornerstone rating: 4/5
Smothers has good hands and is very fluid both before and after the catch, he's going to be very easy to feature in the Holgo-Raid.

5. Oklahoma's Jordan Parker

5-11, 180, cornerback, 4-star
Pittsburg, CA (Pittsburg Senior HS)

Oklahoma and Mike Stoops' run of relying on California for the athletes they used to get from East Texas or DFW continues with Jordan Parker. This kid has the type of COD (change of direction) to mirror receivers and to break on routes while playing in cover 3 as well as the recovery speed to play tight on people.

With good training in technique he could eventually be a lockdown corner in the OU system, something they desperately need, and be someone that could try and match up with the Corey Colemans of the league without a safety over the top and without getting abused for 200 receiving yards.

More likely, he'll be a good cover 3 corner, particularly at right corner where he can play deeper off the ball.

Cornerstone rating: 4/5
Good cover corners are a precious commodity in this league, were Parker a little bigger or a little faster he'd be a 5/5 cornerstone piece for the Sooner defense.

6. Oklahoma State's Jonathan Marshall

6-3, 249, strongside end, 3-star
Shepherd, TX (Shepherd HS)

Martin is several good meals and weight-lifting sessions from being the next 3-tech defensive tackle at OSU. He's got a lightning first step for that position and the ability to get under an OL's pads and fight through them to the ball.

The reason a player like this isn't rated higher is that he's not an elite athlete for a DE, which is where his body currently has him, but he's not yet at the weight he'll be as a college DT so no one has seen what he'll look like at his eventual destination.

Cornerstone rating: 3/5
I don't think Marshall is going to set the world on fire, but he might be a starting quality defensive tackle that can help you control the line of scrimmage and anytime you find one of those it's a reason for celebration.

7. Texas' Tren'Davian Dickson

6-0, 171, wide receiver, 4-star
Navasota, TX (Navasota)

You can read my thoughts on Dickson, along with several other valuable tidbits, by following this link to Inside Texas.

Cornerstone rating: 4/5
Dickson would be a huge addition for anyone else but with Texas' offensive direction currently somewhat ambiguous it's not clear what the impact of this kid will be just yet. It's most likely that Texas is much more passing oriented in the future than they are now though.

8. Kansas State's Skylar Thompson

6-2, 195, (dual-threat) QB, 3-star
Independence, MO (Ft. Osage HS)

They've got this kid well hidden with mostly private highlight tapes, but from what I can tell he doesn't fit the mold of typical K-State QBs. More of another Jesse Ertz than a Collin Klein. He knows where the ball needs to go and can put it there with touch. He's a good athlete but not an explosive runner and not a guy who's going to hold up in K-State's single-wing offense getting 10-20 carries a week.

I keep getting the sense that K-State wants to eventually evolve their offense into a precision spread attack with more RPOs and POP passes. Thompson would certainly aid them in that endeavor.

Cornerstone rating: 2/5
It's not clear how good this kid really is and he doesn't seem to be a guy that could be feature player of their offense. Of course he might be much better than I realize and I simply don't realize it because his tape is missing. I don't see much to differentiate him from the other 20 QBs on their campus.

9. Kansas' Maciah Long

6-2, 215, linebacker, 3-star
Houston, TX (North Shore HS)

This is what you'd hope your QB recruits would look like if you're a K-State fan and I'm not sure why he was convinced to play LB at Kansas when he's got some solid tape at QB. You can tell from his QB tape though that he's a smart kid, and perhaps he sees clearly enough that his pro potential lies on defense.

The kid is an exceptional athlete and I imagine he'll be a good LB just because of his vision and mental processing speed, which are integral to great reading and reacting inside the triangle. You'd also hope that a kid of his size might be a weapon in the blitz game. I don't think I've seen an athlete of this caliber play defense at Kansas since...

Cornerstone rating: 3/5
He could be a great player, and landing a big time and sought-after athlete from Houston is ENORMOUS for Beatty's Jayhawk program, but I need to see some film of him taking on a block before I'm ready to say he's going to rock the world on defense.

10. Iowa State's Lawrence White

6-0, 170, athlete, 3-star
Bakersfield, CA (Ridgeview HS)

A combination of a 4.68 40 time and 4.58 shuttle time scream out for an obvious deployment to this Big 12 writer, safety.

Guys that have played QB in high school and run 4.7 or better coming downhill often make for good safety prospects provided they are up for meeting a RB with square shoulders in the alley. The best safeties can play with initial depth and close on the ball with good leverage, which requires some straight line speed and good instincts and football IQ, both of which White has.

On his highlights, White plays the ball well in the air and his tackling, as infrequently as it's depicted, suggest a future at strong (field) safety in the current Iowa State defensive scheme.

Cornerstone rating: 3/5
White seems a really solid athlete, but good athletes that can cover ground from depth aren't all that rare. Every roster should have a handful of such players on their defense, the other feature that sets these players apart is toughness and tackling. He might be an all-B12 safety someday, it'll depend on what kind of tackler he turns out to be.

All told, there are six Texans listed here with ISU, OU, K-State, and West Virginia all finding their (currently) top-rated players elsewhere. While it's normal for West Virginia to mine Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Florida for players, it's curious to see Iowa State and Oklahoma relying so heavily on California.

I'm not sure it's a terrible strategy if you have connections there that can guide you to the good players, but you wonder if part of Oklahoma's decline from being a team that physically intimidates the rest of the Big 12 on defense to getting beaten up by Texas every October has something to do with the dearth of East Texans on their roster. It's hard to say obviously, and there are probably many factors contributing to that annual outcome.

Overall, a brief glance tells us that the league's top dogs are eating pretty well. We'll dive deeper into every team's recruiting over the course of the season and wrap it all up in February.

No comments:

Post a Comment