The traditional top teams of the Big 12 should be worried. Recruiting may still be won and lost on national signing day, but it's a 24/7/365 event.
Right now, Oklahoma and Texas are falling behind.
The Opening, Nike's annual showcase of the nation's top high school talent in Beaverton, Oregon, is in full swing this week. Some of the most ridiculous athletes anywhere are on display. For example: Virginia defensive end Josh Sweat, he of the 6'5", 240-pound body, ran a 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds, per B/R's Tyler Donahue.
That kind of athleticism is simply unfair.
"Josh is just a freak athlete," fellow Opening participant Kirk Merritt told Donohue, who was on location. "I knew I would be tough to beat him. He's the kind of athlete you never really see and I thought he was pretty amazing."
Of course, a blazing 40 time doesn't mean a prospect is going to flourish at the college level. For that matter, the recruiting star system is an inexact science, as explained by B/R's Kynon Codrington.
Perusing the top 25 players at this year's Opening (via Donohue), the words "Texas" and "Oklahoma" appear infrequently, however. As Paul Myerberg of USA Today tweets, a sizable chunk of the prospects at The Opening are going to one of three schools:
That's a bit worrisome if you're a fan of Oklahoma or Texas.
Kendall Sheffield, a 5-star corner and the No. 1 player in the state of Texas, has the Longhorns as one of his two favorites. Suffice to say, he'd be a major addition for first-year coach Charlie Strong. Malik Jefferson, another one of the Lone Star state's top recruits, is considering Oklahoma.
But by and large, that's it for the Big 12's perennial programs.
It's worth pointing out that verbal commitments mean nothing until signing day and that The Opening roster is well over 150 players strong, some of whom are seriously considering Texas and/or Oklahoma. There's still plenty of time between now and signing day 2015.
What's bothersome for Texas and Oklahoma is not consistently being in the conversation for the nation's top recruits.
There is a correlation between recruiting and competing at a championship level. Looking at the past few national champs—Florida State, Alabama and Auburn—it's no surprise to see that their recruiting classes finished in or around the national top 10 or 15.
|BCS National Champions (2011-14)|
|Year||School||Average Class Rank (Previous Five Years)|
Texas and Oklahoma finished just outside the top 15 in 247Sports' composite rankings in 2013. In February, the Sooners closed as well as anyone to land the No. 14 class nationally. Texas, transitioning to new coach Strong, did its best to hold its class together (finishing 17th).
The surprising part was seeing Texas, and Oklahoma to a much greater extent, be beaten out in the state of Texas. The Longhorns signed eight of the top 50 in-state players this past signing class, but the Sooners had just one.
Compare that to 10 who committed to Texas A&M and even six who committed to surging Baylor.
2015 classes are obviously incomplete, but there's no doubt the Aggies are off to another blistering hot start in-state. Texas, with four commits, and Oklahoma, which has three, have work to do.
This is an anxious time for two programs with championship aspirations. What neither program wants is for Texas to become SEC territory. It's more than possible that the Horns and Sooners close well and reclaim their spot back among college football's best destinations.
For now, both programs are recruiting at a good but not great level.
Sometimes, that's not good enough.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.
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