Evaluating recruits is an inexact science. From every class, five-star prospects become busts; two-star signees turn into All-Americans.
But as an exercise, I've compiled below what an All-Big 12 team would look like based solely on ESPN RecruitingNation rankings -- even though the actual All-Big 12 teams down the road are sure to look very different (jucos not included):
QB: Jarrett Stidham, Baylor (No. 2 QB-DT)
RB: Chris Warren, Texas (No. 9 RB)
RB: Tristian Houston, Texas (No. 20 RB)
WR: Jovon Durante, West Virginia (No. 13 WR)
WR: Ryan Newsome, Texas (No. 22 WR)
WR: John Humphrey, Oklahoma (No. 23 WR)
TE: Devonaire Clarington, Texas (No. 1 TE-H)
OT: Bobby Evans, Oklahoma (No. 16 OT)
OG: Patrick Vahe, Texas (No. 12 OG)
C: Jozie Milton, TCU (No. 8 C)
OG: Conner Dyer, Texas Tech (No. 31 OG)
OT: Madison Akamnonu, Texas Tech (No. 28 OT)
AP: DeAndre McNeal, Texas (No. 28 ATH)
DE: Ricky DeBerry, Oklahoma (No. 14 DE)
DT: Breiden Fehoko, Texas Tech (No. 10 DT)
DT: Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma (No. 16 DT)
DE: Louis Brown, Oklahoma State (No. 23 ATH)
OLB: Malik Jefferson, Texas (No. 3 OLB)
ILB: Anthony Wheeler, Texas (No. 3 ILB)
ILB: De'Amontae Jackson, Iowa State (No. 19 ILB)
OLB: Cameron Townsend, Texas (No. 17 OLB)
CB: P.J. Mbanasor, Oklahoma (No. 6 CB)
CB: Holton Hill, Texas (No. 14 CB)
S: DeShon Elliott, Texas (No. 5 S)
S: Will Sunderland, Oklahoma (No. 17 S)
Best players at each position who didn't make the cut:
QB: John Kolar, Oklahoma State (No. 3 QB-PP)
RB: Ja'Mycal Hasty, Baylor (No. 21 RB)
WR: John Burt, Texas (No. 25 WR)
TE: Stone Wolfley, West Virginia (No. 16 TE-Y)
OT: Johnny Wilson, Oklahoma State (No. 34 OT)
OG: Vaimoe Sekona, Oklahoma State (No. 37 OG)
C: Cody Wheeler, Texas Tech (No. 14 C)
AP: Blake Lynch, Baylor (No. 30 ATH)
DE: Gabriel Campbell, Oklahoma (No. 27 DE)
DT: Marquise Overton, Oklahoma (No. 20 DT)
OLB: Reggie Walker, Kansas State (No. 54 OLB)
ILB: Cecil Cherry, Texas (No. 20 ILB)
CB: Tyrek Cole, West Virginia (No. 19 CB)
S: Jamile Johnson, Texas Tech (No. 19 S)
A few observations:
Everyone relax. Again, this is not a personal projection. It's based solely on the ESPN RecruitingNation evaluations and rankings. Some will be right. Some will be wrong. OK, you can all breathe again.
The teams above underscore how dominant the defensive classes from Texas and Oklahoma were. The Longhorns landed the league's two best linebackers in Malik Jefferson and Anthony Wheeler, and its best safety in DeShon Elliott. Bob Stoops, meanwhile, called this the best secondary class the Sooners had signed in his tenure, and it's difficult to argue with Oklahoma bringing in a pair of blue-chippers in P.J. Mbanasor and Will Sunderland. Both Red River rivals have difference-makers coming in at every level. It will be interesting to watch how they all develop.
Oklahoma State and Texas Tech quietly put together a pair of noteworthy classes up front. Besides loading up on transfer offensive linemen, the Cowboys signed two of the Big 12's best high school blockers in Johnny Wilson and Vaimoe Sekona. On the other side, Louis Brown is a little raw, but he has the athleticism to be a big-time playmaking defensive end down the line. In Lubbock, Madison Akamnonu and Conner Dyer have the chance to be cornerstones for future Tech offensive lines. The Red Raiders also scored a potential stud up front defensively in tackle Breiden Fehoko. Both the Cowboys and Red Raiders successfully beefed up their trenches, after enduring major struggles last year (OSU offensively, Tech defensively).
Once again, Baylor and West Virginia are two of the leaders in incoming skill talent. Jovon Durante is top-rated receiving coming into the Big 12 and has a chance to help the Mountaineers in 2015 at a position of need. Also watch out for his Miramar, Florida, cohort, cornerback Tyrek Cole, who will be joining a potentially loaded West Virginia secondary. Baylor signed the league's top QB in Jarrett Stidham, one of its top-three running backs in Ja'Mycal Hasty and a dynamic receiver in Blake Lynch. Once again, neither the Bears nor the Mountaineers will be lacking firepower.
TCU doesn't show up much on the above teams, but last season's 12-1 record will have a much bigger effect on the Class of 2016. In fact, it already has. The Horned Frogs are off to a phenomenal start on next year's class with eight 2016 commits already on board, including four in the ESPN Junior 300.