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Ranking the Big 12: Oklahoma overtakes Texas for league recruiting crown

Oklahoma cornerback Tre Brown celebrates an interception in the Big 12 championship game win over Iowa State in December. The Sooners followed up their conference title with a Big 12 recruiting crown.

After three straight top-10 classes, Texas slipped back into the teens and lost the Big 12 recruiting crown to Oklahoma this year. Most of the work on these classes was done in December. No Big 12 class finished in the top 10 nationally for the first time since 2014.

Here's how the conference schools' classes rank:

1. Oklahoma

Players: 16

Top prospects: QB Caleb Williams, ATH Billy Bowman, WR Mario Williams 

The Sooners stood pat after the early signing period. Oklahoma didn’t add a single high school recruit to its class this spring, opting instead for the transfer market. Lincoln Riley’s program secured the top-ranked class in the Big 12 for the first time since 2017. Bowman was a one-time Texas pledge. Caleb Williams is the top-rated dual-threat quarterback in the country and is now the heir apparent to Spencer Rattler. National rank: 11th.

2. Texas

Players: 21

Top prospects: ATH Ja’Tavion Sanders, S JD Coffey, CB Jamier Johnson

Coaching changes hurt recruiting in the short term. Texas suffered through that in the 2017 cycle when Tom Herman replaced Charlie Strong. The Longhorns felt it again this cycle when Herman limped to the finish line in the early period, signing 18 players before being let go Jan. 2. Former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was immediately hired and went to work securing three more signatures for Texas. Sanders is the only national top-100 prospect to sign with the Horns this cycle. National rank: 17th

3. Oklahoma State

Players: 20

Top prospects: DT Aden Kelley, WR Bryson Green, LB Collin Oliver

Oklahoma and Texas will always be the two best teams in the Big 12 on national signing day. The rest of the conference competes for third place. Oklahoma State is routinely placing third, and that trend continued in 2021. Kelley is a big, strong defensive tackle with a high motor. Green is a four-star wide receiver from Allen High School in Texas — 16 of the 20 signees came from Texas or Oklahoma. National rank: 39th

4. West Virginia

Players: 16

Top prospects: OT Wyatt Milum, WR Kaden Prather, RB Jaylen Anderson

West Virginia landed in the fourth spot in the Big 12 for the second consecutive year under head coach Neal Brown. Seven of the 16 prospects are already enrolled. Milum, a four-star offensive tackle on the borderline of the national top 100, was a major in-state recruiting victory. Prather was plucked from Maryland. The Mountaineers also signed multiple players from Ohio and Florida. National rank: 40th

5. Baylor

Players: 17

Top prospects: QB Kyron Drones, OL Tate Williams, RB Jordan Jenkins

A new era began for Baylor in 2020 when former LSU defensive coordinator Dave Amanda took over for Matt Rhule, who excelled as an on-field coach but left something to be desired as a recruiter. Aranda put a renewed focus on high school recruiting, improving the 2021 class considerably compared with the 2020 class he inherited. Drones won a state championship as a junior at Alvin Shadow Creek. Tate Williams and Jordan Jenkins were members of the 2021 Fabulous 55. National rank: 44th 

6. Kansas

Players: 22

Top prospects: RB Devin Neal, DE Garfield Lawrence, CB Kameron Grays

Kansas moved up two spots after the early signing period. The Jayhawks added a handful of signatures on national signing day, more than any other team in the conference. Four-star wide receiver Quay Davis, a one-time commitment to Texas and USC, became the highest-ranked prospect to sign with Kansas since at least 2000, according to 247Sports. Neal was an important in-state win. National rank: 52nd

7. Kansas State

Players: 17

Top prospects: QB Jake Rubley, ATH Davonte Pritchard, DB Marvin Martin

Rubley is the only four-star prospect in the class. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound pro-style quarterback was the third-best prospect from Iowa and a national top-200 recruit, holding offers from Iowa and LSU. Kansas State’s 2020 class ranked ninth in the Big 12, so head coach Chris Klieman is improving the roster. Pritchard was an in-state recruiting victory. National rank: 56th

8. Iowa State

Players: 18

Top prospects: TE Tyler Moore, OT Tyler Maro, ATH Malik Verdon

Iowa State worries more about conference success than recruiting headlines; Matt Campbell and his program aim to build a five-star culture rather than recruit five-star talent. Still, the Cyclones should be recruiting better than eighth in the conference after playing for a Big 12 championship in December. Seven of the 18 players are already enrolled. Iowa State didn’t sign a single four-star prospect. National rank: 59th

9. TCU

Players: 14

Top prospects: RB Ahmonte Watkins, QB Sam Jackson, DE Chris Murray

TCU's conference ranking fell from third in the 2020 class to ninth in 2021. Some of that was due to signing only 14 players. Six of those are already enrolled, including German quarterback Alexander Honig. Jackson, a dual-threat quarterback, and Watkins were the only two four-star prospects to sign. National rank: 61st 

10. Texas Tech

Players: 13

Top prospects: QB Behren Morton, WR Jerand Bradley, RB Cam’Ron Valdez

The best news for Texas Tech was keeping Morton in the fold. The four-star quarterback from Eastland is a national top-150 prospect who was courted by numerous programs enjoying more success than the Red Raiders under Matt Wells. The 2020 class ranked seventh in the Big 12. National rank: 64th