The football recruiting wars ended this week with Oklahoma, Texas and Baylor finishing as the top three in the Big 12 for 2014. Possibly because of its powerful finish with victories over Oklahoma State and Alabama, OU finished with the conference's top-rated recruiting class, according to ESPN.
To climax its recruting efforts, the Big Red signed two ESPN 300 players in receiver Michiah Quick and safety Steven Parker II on the final day. Texas had lost several players with the retirement of Coach Mack Brown, but new Coach Charlie Strong was able to rebound with the signing of defensive tackle Poona Ford.
Baylor's class was ranked third in the conference after Coach Art Briles announced "the best wide receiver recruiting class in the nation: with wideouts K.D. Cannon and Davion Hall." The Bears were the only Big 12 school to land two top-10 players from the Lone Star State.
Baylor's first ever Big 12 Conference championship in 2013 did pay dividends as the Bears finished with the 22nd top class in the nation. Oklahoma finished at No. 13 and Texas at No. 16 in the nation, according to ESPN.
The highlight of Baylor's signing class were four wide receivers including Cannon of Mount Pleasant, Texas; Hall of Texarkana, Texas; Ishmael Zamora of Houston and Chris Platt of Willis, Texas.
The Bears high-octane passing attack which led the nation in offense for most of the season should continue with All-Conference quarterback Bryce Petty returning to throw his long distance bombs to these new receivers plus returning receiver Antwan Godley.
With the new stadium situated on the Brazos River set to be completed in time for the 2014 season, Baylor is expected to be in the running for its second Big 12 championship. The downside is the Bears lost heavily on the defensive side of the ball with All-American defensive back Ahmad Dixon and others graduating.
OU's biggest signing was of running back Joe Mixon of Oakley, Calif. Big Game Bob Stoops was able to sign him despite the California teams all being after him. With Trevor Knight's brilliant performance in the All-State Sugar Bowl, the Sooners may come out of the gate as favorites for the Big 12 championship.
The biggest name for Texas was Denton Guyer quarterback Jerrod Heard who led his team to two consecutive state championships in the Lone Star State. Longhorn fans are hoping Heard may be the quarterback for the future in Austin. With Baylor recruiting R.G. III and Texas A&M signing Johnny Football Manziell in recent years, the top quarterback prospects have eluded the Austin school in recent years.
The former Louisville coach, who is known as a defensive expert, may have found offensive gold with Heard. Whether or not he can come in and beat out David Ash and Tyrone Swoopes his freshman year may be the biggest question for Strong to answer.
Analyst Phil Steele of ESPN projected what he believs will be the AP Top 10 for next season. He calculated OU would probably be No. 5 in the nation and Baylor at No. 9. He also estimated OU would be Big 12 favorite after its Sugar Bowl win.
Because of its Big 12 championship in 2013, Steele expects Baylor to be ranked second in the Big 12 with Heisman hopeful Bryce Petty coming back. Even though only nine starters return, Briles has already proven his offense can simply outscore other teams no matter what his defense does.
Baylor's biggest recruiting coup may have been in keeping its coach after news reports said Texas was considering hiring him as its next coach.
The championship could be decided when Baylor travels to Norman to play OU in 2014.
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