What an unprecedented Early Signing Period this December, particularly in the Big 12 where there was major coaching changes at Oklahoma, TCU and Texas Tech, and several other big names floated around as possible candidates elsewhere.
Here’s a look back at which teams thrived during the early window and what to look forward to in February:
Dave Aranda and his staff place a major emphasis on their own evaluations and prioritize the deep, talent-laden state of Texas in their recruiting hauls. The Bears made a National Signing Day splash by edging out the Longhorns for Rivals250 wide receiver Armani Winfield on top of late additions from local defensive lineman Devonte Tezino and in-state gems such as Devyn Bobby (DeSoto); Jordan Nabors (Rockwall-Heath) and Kaden Sieracki (The Woodlands).
Although Matt Campbell‘s name was among those floated around for some of the prominent coaching jobs open around the country, he remains in Ames with the Cyclones clinging to a top-25 class nationally.
Iowa State inked a quartet of four-stars, including NFL legacy quarterback Rocco Becht out of Florida along with in-state defensive tackle Hunter Deyo. Twenty of Iowa State’s 21 commitments signed in December with the exception of R. Mason Thomas, who’ll officially visit Oklahoma in January. Campbell has a strong foundation in place and to close with a top-25 class speaks volumes.
Lance Leipold certainly came through with breakthrough performances on the field that instill confidence in the direction of the Kansas football program moving forward. Leipold and his staff are continuing to restructure the roster and are expected to hammer the transfer portal this offseason.
In December, the Jayhawks inked only six prospects, two of whom were three-star prospects. In other words, there’s more work to be done.
Kansas State sits just outside the top 60 as far 2022 recruiting classes with a 17-man class. However, only eight signees are tabbed as three-stars or better with Pennsylvania OL Jalen Klemm and Oklahoma DE Donovan Rieman as the team’s highest-rated recruits.
The Wildcats are emphasizing skill position players, namely defensive backs, along with restocking in the trenches. Quarterback, running back and linebacker are also areas of need.
New Sooners coach Brent Venables had little time to shift his focus from Clemson‘s defensive coordinator to Oklahoma’s head coach. But he was able to score a late commitment from Rivals250 quarterback Nick Evers, flip West Texas linebacker Kobie McKinzie back from rival Texas and reel in elite Florida receiver Jayden Gibson, a one-time Gators pledge and top-50 prospect in the country.
In February, Venables will try to ink prized Rivals100 ATH Gentry Williams, who did not sign early, and add more pieces on both lines to close out the cycle.
There was no real drama in Stillwater with the exception of signing in-state four-star edge-defender Desean Brown, a strong get for Mike Gundy and Co. after a sensation year on that side of the ball. During the course of the cycle, Oklahoma State secured a pair of four-star backs in Ollie Gordon and CJ Brown, who are both big-bodied, athletic playmakers out of the backfield to jolt the Cowboys’ rushing attack.
Sonny Dykes wasted no time bolstering TCU‘s early signing class after relocating within the Dallas Metroplex from SMU, where he was continuing to build up a signing class full of four-stars and nationally ranked talent from the area and across the state.
Unsurprisingly, Dykes and his ace staff didn’t miss a beat. He brought along Rashaad Samples and the Horned Frogs quickly inked four-stars Michael Ibukun-Okeyode, Chace Biddle and Jordan Hudson, highly-ranked recruits that were committed to the staff at SMU. With nine signees before Christmas, expect Dykes and Co. to finish strong and also take full advantage of the portal.
What a five-day stretch it was on the Forty Acres with former five-star Ohio State QB Quinn Ewers announcing his intent to return to Texas; five-star OT Kelvin Banks pledging to the Longhorns after Mario Cristobal departed for Miami and both Neto Umeozulu and Cameron Williams following suit.
On NSD, the Longhorns flipped athlete Xavion Brice from rival Oklahoma and added intriguing hometown edge-defender Ethan Burke from nearby Austin Westlake. They also flipped Rivals100 corner Terrance Brooks Jr., a Texas A&M legacy, from Ohio State. Momentum is real and Steve Sarkisian and his staff have plenty of it entering 2022.
First-year Texas Tech coach Joey McGuire hit the ground running and there was an aftermath felt in the current 2022 class as well as 2023. McGuire quickly assembled his staff with strong Lone Star State ties and helped keep the Red Raiders’ class very much intact. They also flipped several in-state standouts such as Joseph Adedire (TCU), Landon Hullaby (Oregon) and Ty Kana (USC). The best is yet to come in Lubbock.
The Mountaineers closed on a high note in December peppering their 2022 haul with four commitments in the final three days leading into National Signing Day, including four-star JUCO defensive back Hershey McLaurin and three-star JUCO wide receiver Jeremiah Allen.
West Virginia‘s class sits No. 22 nationally and could bolster its position with must-gets at running back and defensive line.