With college football recruits signing on the dotted line all around the country today, here’s a look at a prized prospect from each Big 12 school in the class of 2009:
Recruiting class of '09 national ranking: No. 3 by Rivals.com
Recruit to remember: QB Garrett Gilbert (five stars)
Height, weight, hometown: 6-4, 205, Austin, Texas
Gilbert set single-season Texas state records for passing yards (4,852) and passing touchdowns (52) in a season in which he led Lake Travis to the state championship. Gilbert, who attended the same high school as Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing, added an additional 689 yards and 23 scores on the ground. He was intercepted only five times.
Rivals.com ranks Gilbert as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the nation for the class of 2009. It appears the Longhorns have their replacement set for Heisman finalist Colt McCoy.
“I think he walks into a perfect situation,” Jeremy Crabtree, national recruiting editor of Rivals.com, said of Gilbert. “He can maybe learn like (Missouri’s) Chase Daniel (spot duty as freshman) or maybe even red-shirt. He’s not going to be expected to be the savior from day one.”
Texas coach Mack Brown snagged three of the conference’s five recruits who are five-star athletes on Rivals.com. Along with Gilbert, the Longhorns welcomed defensive end Alex Okafor (6-4, 232 pounds, Pflugerville, Texas) and offensive lineman Mason Walters (6-6, 290 pounds, Wolfforth, Texas).
Recruiting national rank: No. 13
Recruit to remember: DT Jamarkus McFarland (four stars)
Height, weight, hometown: 6-3, 280, Lufkin, Texas
Surprisingly, the Sooners didn’t sign any five-star athletes in the class of 2009. They stocked up on 10 four-star athletes, though, second-most in the conference behind Texas (11).
McFarland is known as the gem of OU’s recruiting class of 2009. The defensive tackle, who also made recruiting trips to Texas, USC and LSU, is known as a talent who could follow in a long line of successful OU defensive tackles like Tommy Harris and Gerald McCoy. It might be a stretch to suggest McFarland will receive constant reps next year since McCoy announced he’d return for his senior season, but he'll get his chance eventually.
Recruiting national rank: No. 17
Recruit to remember: RB Christine Michael (five stars)
Height, weight, hometown: 5-11, 202, Beaumont, Texas
Talk about a recruit A&M; needed. In only nine games as a senior at West Brook High, Michael rushed for 1,414 yards and 25 TD’s. In three years at the varsity level, he accumulated 3,925 yards and 80 total scores while splitting time for two of those years.
There’s a good chance Michael will see action next fall. Jorvorskie Lane was a senior in 2008, so he’s gone. Furthermore, junior running back Mike Goodson is forgoing his senior year to enter April’s NFL Draft. That leaves sophomore-to-be Cyrus Gray (75 carries, 363 yards, TD in 2008) and Michael as the front-runners.
Recruiting national rank: No. 25
Recruit to remember: QB Cody Green (four stars)
Height, weight, hometown: 6-4, 220, Dayton, Texas
In his senior year at the prep ranks, Green totaled 63 touchdowns (36 passing, 27 running) and nearly reached 5,000 yards of total offense.
With Joe Ganz gone, Green, who enrolled at Nebraska early so he could participate in spring practice, should battle for the starting QB spot with junior-to-be Zac Lee and sophomore-to-be Patrick Witt.
Recruiting national rank: No. 27
Recruit to remember: RB Dexter Pratt (four stars)
Height, weight, hometown: 6-2, 227, Navasota, Texas
Pratt originally chose LSU, but changed his commitment to Oklahoma State after 10 months. The running back accounted for 1,352 yards and 19 scores as a senior.
Recruiting national rank: No. 31
Recruit to remember: FB Toben Opurum (four stars)
Height, weight, hometown: 6-2, 229, Plano, Texas
Opurum is the No. 3-ranked fullback in the nation in the class of 2009. He rushed for 873 yards and eight scores last season as a high school senior.
Recruiting national rank: No. 32
Recruit to remember: RB Eric Stephens (four stars)
Height, weight, hometown: 5-8, 177, Mansfield, Texas
Stephens rushed for 1,296 yards and 19 touchdowns his senior year in high school. On the bright side for Stephens is the fact that Tech coach Mike Leach utilized his running attack last season considerably more than he had in the past. And he’ll use multiple backs, like he did with Shannon Woods (716 rushing yards, 12 TD's) and Baron Batch (758 yards, seven TD’s). Woods, a senior last season, is gone, while Batch will return next season as a junior.
Recruiting national rank: No. 34
Recruit to remember: DT Sheldon Richardson (five stars)
Height, weight, hometown: 6-4, 292, St. Louis
Richardson is perhaps the most intriguing Big 12 recruit, and he’ll be the most interesting story to follow today. He's the No. 4-ranked recruit in the nation and the highest-ranked recruit to come out of Missouri in the 10-year history of Rivals’ rankings. He’d likely provide instant impact for a Missouri defense that ranked 98th in total defense last season, the worst in the Gary Pinkel era. But it’s not a guarantee he’ll end up in Columbia.
Richardson took a recruiting trip last weekend to Miami (Fla.), where he’d have a better opportunity to play tight end, a position he’s still considering in college.
So will it be Missouri or Miami? Missouri is still considered the front-runner and Richardson’s mom reportedly would prefer he stay closer to home. We’ll find out today.
“We’re expecting it to be Missouri, but we’re not sure if it’s not either,” Crabtree said. “He says he’s still committed. Personally, I think he’s a very rare defensive tackle. I’ve seen him run a 4.7 (-second 40-yard dash) at 290 pounds. He could be a very rich man one day at defensive tackle.”
Recruiting national rank: No. 54
Recruit to remember: DE Nick Kasa (four stars)
Height, weight, hometown: 6-7, 245, Broomfield, Colo.
Kasa, the third-best defensive end in the nation in the class of 2009, originally committed to Florida. Ultimately, though, the Gators reportedly had plans to move Kasa to offense if things didn’t work out at defensive end.
Colorado and coach Dan Hawkins likely will keep Kasa on the defensive side of the ball. He should play immediately next fall.
Recruiting national rank: No. 57
Recruit to remember: OG Ivory Wade (four stars)
Height, weight, hometown: 6-5, 306, Dickinson, Texas
Wade changed his mind from Texas A&M; to Baylor in August. On the plus side, Baylor offensive line coach Randy Clements knows how to develop talent. Recently departed senior offensive tackle Jason Smith should be a top-10 pick in April’s NFL Draft.
Recruiting national rank: No. 70
Recruit to remember: S David Batts (four stars)
Height, weight, hometown: 6-2, 200, Torrance, Calif.
Batts is a junior-college transfer from El Camino (Calif.) Community College.
Recruiting national rank: No. 70
Recruit to remember: QB Daruis Reynolds (four stars)
Height, weight, hometown: 6-3, 190, Reedley, Calif.
Reynolds, a junior-college transfer from Reedley (Calif.) College, doesn’t have a specific position listed on Rivals.com, but instead is listed as “ath” for athlete. This means he could wind up playing a one of several different positions for the Cyclones.