Recruiting in college football is downright nasty. It is a cutthroat, cannibalistic big business that is microscopically analyzed by fans, administrators and media members alike. Recruiting in the Big 12 has its major advantages and major disadvantages. First, the state of Texas is a built in feeder system for all 10 teams in the league, even West Virginia.
With a couple of small exceptions, there is a reason Oklahoma and Texas have dominated the league for so long. They claim the top two classes in each of the last six seasons. That said, the last two conference winners have come from Stillwater and Manhattan, not Norman or Austin. But it all starts on the recruiting trail.
No Big 12 team ranked in the top ten nationally in the team rankings. No nationally rated recruit (approx. 240) announced on National Signing Day that he would be attending a Big 12 school. Only four players in the Athlon Consensus 100 signed with the Big 12 while the SEC signed 41 total AC100 prospects and Alabama inked 15 alone. Oklahoma had a solid 14th-ranked class but Texas had one of its worst classes in recent memory and only Baylor managed to land in the top 25 nationally. Sooners signee Keith Ford is the lone five-star prospect to sign with the entire conference. Needless to say, it has to be one of the worst years for the conference on the trail.
Kansas State was last again
And that's just how Bill Snyder likes it. While they still signed a healthy number of junior college players (6), he went heavier on high school talent in 2013 than usual. The Wildcats signed 26 prep athletes in this class. This team has overachieved more than any other team in the nation so who is to argue with Snyder's judgment. He signed 13 defensive front seven players and should be able to rebuild his defense — with two- and three-star players — as quickly as anyone in the nation.
Pressure mounting in Austin
Mack Brown is 11-15 in Big 12 play over the last three seasons and has had plenty of coaching turnover on his staff. So with the doubters in Austin speaking out louder than ever before, 2013 was not the time for one of the worst classes in Brown's tenure at Texas. He signed 15 names this year, only two were ranked in the AC100, and didn't win any of the big battles down the stretch. He has long pointed to the '13 season as his national title chance, but it doesn't look like too many freshmen will contributing.
Waco is the place to be for offense
One of the four AC100 prospects to sign with the Big 12 was superstar wide receiver Robbie Rhodes. His tape is loaded with long touchdown catches, crazy weaves through traffic and explosiveness that even Randy Moss would be proud of. The talented wideout is just one of the names that makes Art Briles' 2013 haul one of the best in Bears' history. Baylor has an average national recruiting ranking of 47.1 over the last five cycles with a high-water mark of 39th back in 2010. He signed a top 25 class this season and the offensive talent, in particular, is very impressive.
TCU acquitted itself nicely
Gary Patterson has elevated TCU recruiting over the last half-decade and after its first season in the Big 12, the program seems to be yielding nice returns in the transition. Ranking 44th nationally is nothing to write home about, but with major facility upgrades coming and a young team returning, this team could be poised for big things in the near future, both on and off the field. There are worse places to be than just behind Oklahoma State in the rankings midway through the Big 12 for a team one year removed from the Mountain West.
Which direction is Texas Tech heading?
Mike Leach left a mess in Lubbock but one thing he didn't do was lose. Tommy Tuberville had his fair share of issues but recruited very well while at Tech — 20th- and 26th-rated classes in the nation. So what about Kliff Kingsbury? He has the name, the flashy offensive resume both as a player and coach and should gain the trust of the fans and high school coaches quickly as a fellow alum. He picked up eight new recruits in the month of February to elevate the class to a 51st ranking. However, eighth in the Big 12 isn't getting it done if the Red Raiders want to compete like it did in 2008. Only time will tell if Kingsbury has what it takes to lure the top in-state athletes to West Texas.
2013 Athlon Sports Big 12 Team Recruiting Rankings: