By all accounts, Charlie Strong and his coaches had a banner day Wednesday closing out the recruiting class of 2016, signing seven players and moving up the national class rankings list.
By getting Nacogdoches safety Brandon Jones and Aldine linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch to commit at the 11th hour, the Longhorns class finished in, or around the Top 10 by recruitinng websites. Strong also pulled in the consensus top class in the Big 12.
But what letter grade do we give the Longhorns’ class and the rest of the Big 12?
Here are the Top 5 classes we graded in the conference:
Biggest star: Brandon Jones, S, Nacogdoches
Reasons to gush: Charlie Strong finished with a flurry of quality commitments, propelling the Longhorns to one of the biggest national recruiting stories and the top class in the Big 12. Before this week, Texas trailed Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma.
First to play: Jordan Elliott is Texas’ top signee along with Jones. He’s also a defensive tackle, a big essential if Texas is to turn itself around.
Needs addressed: Texas signed six defensive linemen, four linebackers and three defensive backs. Surely
, those players will bolster what was, statistically, the worst defense in school history.
Biggest star: Patrick Hudson, OL, Silsbee
Reasons to gush: Baylor signed eight players off the Statesman’s Fab 55, including three ranked in the top 10. The Bears aren’t used to such bright stars. Consider that Copperas Cove’s Robert Griffin III, the 2011 Heisman winner and best player in program history, ranked No. 55 on the 2008 list.
First to see the field: Tren’Davian Dickson is a receiver and early enrollee. With 39 scores, he broke the national record for touchdown catches in 2014.
Needs addressed: The Bears are known for flash, but they needed to restock some substance, especially on defense, which lost all four starters on the line. Baylor signed five defensive linemen and three on offense. Joining Hudson on the O-line are Copperas Cove’s J.P. Urquidez and B.J. Autry, a top junior college transfer.
Biggest star: Sewo Olonilua, athlete, Humble Kingwood
Reasons to gush: The class is the highest-ranked in TCU history. The 247Sports composite rankings had it listed at 23rd nationally. The Frogs had nearly half the class in place this time a year ago, taking advantage of TCU’s Peach Bowl momentum from 2014.
First to see the field: Taj Williams (Iowa Western) was the top-ranked receiver in the national junior college ranks, while Ryan Parker (Tyler) was No. 2. The Frogs need to replace three wideouts, including All-American Josh Doctson.
Needs addressed: Gary Patterson signed eight linemen, split evenly among offense and defense. Patterson bragged that Isaiah Chambers, a defensive end from Aldine MacArthur, already was ready to see the field. He notched 21 sacks as a junior in high school.
Biggest star: Caleb Kelly, LB, Fresno, Calif.
Reasons to gush: It’s unclear whether this is a reason to gush or complain:
. The Sooners have elected to be more national in their recruiting approach, rather than go with what’s won championships in years past. OU signed only five players from either Oklahoma or Texas. The class includes players from 13 states and the District of Columbia.
First to see the field: Mykel Jones from Patterson, La., and Zach Farrar are two top-notch receivers who will be much needed for the Sooners’ passing attack. Farrar even has the proper OU attitude. At his signing day ceremony, he flashed the upside down hook ’em sign.
Needs addressed: Oklahoma suddenly was in need of a quarterback after Trevor Knight transferred to Texas A&M and Cody Thomas quit football to concentrate on baseball. The Sooners landed Austin Kendall from Waxhaw, Calif. He’s already enrolled and could be Baker Mayfield’s primary backup this fall. OU also signed Texas A&M transfer Kyler Murray, a five-star prospect from 2015.
Biggest star: Steven Smothers, WR, Reisterstown, Md.
Reasons to gush: It’s a sign coach Dana Holgorsen likes his running offense. He signed three running backs, including Kennedy McKoy, who is one of nine Mountaineers already enrolled.
First to see the field: Kyzir White is a top safety prospect from Lakawana Community College. And WVU needs an impact safety to replace All-American Karl Joseph and all-conference Daryl Worley. Plus, White is the younger brother of former Mountaineers star receiver Kevin White. His brother Ka’Raun White is a WVU receiver.
Needs addressed: Holgorsen needed to upgrade his quarterback situation. Jacquez Adams, a dual-threat quarterback, is in school and will go through spring practice. Holgorsen is on record that he’d like his quarterbacks to run more in the offense.
For rest of the grades in the Big 12, click here.
News on Bevo Beat is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of Hookem.com is included with an Austin American-Statesman subscription in addition to Statesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe today at statesman.com/subscribe.