Well it was a pretty good year for the Sooners yet again. They hammered down the top three players in the state of Texas in five-star Scout.com Top 100 players Justin Johnson, R.J. Washington, and Jermie Calhoun. Their dominance did not stop there as they also pulled down the “Lone Star State’s” top two offensive linemen Stephen Good and Ben Habern. Both players were tough as nails in post-season All-American contests. The top two players in the state also decided to stay at home when Stacey McGee and Jameel Owens made the call in mid-January. To have a great recruiting class you also have to get out on the national level and pull down top talents and the Sooners nabbed two terrific nationally rated wide receivers. DeJuan Miller is an absolute freak of a receiver from New Jersey and Josh Jarboe from Georgia proved this year that he is every bit as good as any receiver in the South. In addition to going national for big players the Sooners also nabbed a pair of three-star sleepers I really like in James Hanna and Daniel Franklin. Hanna is a dynamic receiver at tight end and Franklin is a devastating tackler at linebacker. Both players only need to add a little weight to be considered college ready. The OU staff also did a good job of securing some solid JUCO talents, like J.R. Bryant, David Sims, and Mike Balogun to ease the blow of losing Reggie Smith and Curtis Lofton to the NFL.
Best Signee: Justin Johnson
Biggest Impact in 2008: J.R. Bryant
Super Sleeper: James Hanna
One that Got Away:: Arthur Brown
It was so tough of a decision to decide between Colorado and Missouri for the number two spot, but the fact that Mizzou had so many players that were on the edge of receiving an extra star made it even tougher, but in the end it was CU who landed the most difference makers. To start off with the Buffaloes may have landed the top two players in the conference in Lynn Katoa and Darrell Scott. Katoa is the type of player that can come in right away and be skillful enough to step on he field. He will need to learn some thing scheme wise, but fans are going to have a lot of fun watching him go sideline-to-sideline. Darrell Scott is one of the most elite prospects in the country and he has drawn comparisons to Adrian Peterson. Scott is a program changing type of talent on offense and he could be the man as early as next year. Colorado’s top ranked player Jon Major is no slouch and he moves tremendously well for a player with his size. He was the man at linebacker in high school, but it is scary to think what he could do coming off of the edge and rushing the QB for four quarters. Bryce Givens is as tough as they come on the offensive line and once he gains the appropriate size he will be one of the best in the country. Defensive tackle Curtis Cunningham is a monster at the point of attack and he proved he was a national level recruit by impressing all of the scouts in attendance at the Under Armour All-American Bowl in Fla. In addition to these great talents Dan Hawkins also added a number of solid players like Doug Rippy, Chance Blackmon, Ryan Wallace, and others to balance out the class. Keep an eye on two-star Patrick Mahnke as he is a player that could easily be rated alongside a number of other players hat are listed above him on the ranking charts.
Best Signee: Darrell Scott
Biggest Impact in 2008: Darrell Scott
Super Sleeper: Patrick Mahnke
One that Got Away:: Josh Williams
No surprise here as we mentioned it was so close between Missouri and the Buffs.
The first thing the Missouri Tigers did well was recruit their home-state state hard and it paid off when they inked the top three players: Blaine Gabbert, Andrew Jones, and Wes Kemp. In addition to signing those guys they also probably nailed down tone of the toughest defensive back classes in the country. Kip Edwards, Robert Steeples, and Zaviar Gooden could have all played for any program in the country. Legacy running back Drew Temple, Tony Temple’s younger brother, is an exciting back who fits the Tiger offense perfectly. On the defensive side of the ball they went out and got Texas sleepers Will Ebner and Jimmy Burge. Ebner was a fast-rising linebacker who many schools started to track late in the process and Burge is a tough nosed defensive tackle that plays with a lot of discipline. The staff also pulled down some solid defensive ends in Marcus Malbrough, Jacquies Smith, and Aldon Smith. A solid combination of great defensive backs to go along with some pressure up front could mean good things for the defense in the near future.
Best Signee: Blaine Gabbert
Biggest Impact in 2008: Andrew Jones
Super Sleeper: Kenji Jackson
One that Got Away:: Will Compton
4. Nebraska Cornhuskers
It does not get much easier separating number four from number five as the Huskers and Cowboys are right there, but late re-additions from Josh Williams and Will Compton gives Nebraska the slight edge. Williams really cam in to his own as a senior and proved that he deserved to be listed amongst the Top 300 players in the country. Compton was one of the most highly recruited linebackers in the region and he made a tough call to stay with the Huskers after taking a hard look at Illinois and Missouri. The top player in the class was none other than legacy recruit Baker Steinkuhler who will be a tremendous offensive lineman on the next level. At the US Army Bowl in San Antonio he played defensive tackle and showed his athletic ability by doing well, but look for him to be an All-Big 12 type of player on the offensive line in college. He is versatile enough and strong enough to play any number of positions on either side of the ball. They also did a good job in-state and secured Collins Okafor, who many college staffs belive is one of the best in the nation. You have to give some credit to the way that the new coaching staff was able to close out the class. They had o deal with losing a number of top prospects and at the same time evaluate and recruit good players on the fly to help round things out. One of the big late adds was Khiry Cooper from Shreveport. La. They desperately needed a difference maker at receiver and Cooper figures to be that guy. Some other late additions who were key in making this class a success were Courtney and Steven Osborne, Alonzo Whaley, Kody Spano, Antonio Bell, Lester Ward, and P.J. Smith.
Best Signee: Baker Steinkuhler
Biggest Impact in 2008: Will Compton
Super Sleeper: Collins Okafor
One that Got Away:: Blaine Gabbert
5. Oklahoma State
The thing that gives Oklahoma State the nod over a school like Kansas is the fact that they landed a number of junior college players who could change the dynamic of the team, most especially the defense. Maurice Gray is a lockdown corner with serious skills and he should come in and add a new dimension to the defensive backfield. The defensive backfield will also get a boost from Lucien Antoine and prepster’s Johnny Thomas, Markelle Martin, and Victor Johnson. Four-star athlete Kye Staley could factor in there as well, but he looks most likely to be tabbed for the offensive side of the ball at this point in time. It was a tough year for linebacker recruiting and the Cowboys of a couple of good ones in Donald Booker and Alfred Dupree. Booker, a JUCO signee, should compete for a starting spot right away. The defensive line will also get an overhaul as they secured commits from top JUCO talents Chris Donaldson, Swanson Miller, and Jeremiah Price. The Cowboys did not forget about the state of Oklahoma and nailed down two really special players in Cooper Bassett and Justin Blackmon. Keep a close eye on Blackmon, because after he gets his legs in college he could do some special things. He possesses all of the intangibles of the great ones. JUCO running back Beau Johnson is a home-run hitter. A signing day decision from Tennessee’s Jamal Mosley was a nice surprise.
Best Signee: Beau Johnson
Biggest Impact in 2008: Maurice Gray
Super Sleeper: Jeremy Gray
One that Got Away:: Jameel Owens