The excitement that surrounded the signees in the Class of 2015 has subsided.
Several Big 12 programs needed an immediate impact from their signees, while others had enough talent already on campus to redshirt the bulk of their signees. With so much talent redshirting during their first season, there's a real chance this ranking looks much different 12 months from now. One year into their college careers, let’s review and re-rank the Big 12’s recruiting classes in the Class of 2015.
1. Texas (signing day rank: ninth nationally, first in Big 12)
Summary: Texas’ best players in 2015 were its young players. Tackle Connor Williams, linebacker Malik Jefferson, guard Patrick Vahe, receiver John Burt, and running back Chris Warren III are just a few of the true freshmen who made an immediate impact and could develop into all-conference performers. Texas had 17 signees contribute, including eight true freshmen combining for 55 starts.
Headliner: Linebacker Malik Jefferson is a difference-maker. The Big 12’s Defensive Freshman of the Year finished with 61 tackles (37 solo), including seven tackles for loss, six hurries, a fumble recovery for a touchdown and a forced fumble.
2. TCU (37th, seventh)
Summary: The Horned Frogs had 15 true freshmen see action in 2015, with several becoming key parts of TCU’s 11-win season. Receiver KaVontae Turpin was the Big 12’s most explosive freshman, while others like linebacker Montrel Wilson and cornerback Julius Lewis proved to be playmakers when thrown into action.
Headliner: Turpin is on the road to being a star in the Big 12. He’s undersized but tough, quick and explosive. He finished with 100 rushing yards, 40 receptions for 584 yards and eight touchdowns and was one of the Big 12’s top returners.
3. Oklahoma (17th, second)
Summary: Several Sooners signees played their way out of a redshirt season, but kicker/punter Austin Seibert, tackle Dru Samia, receiver Dede Westbrook and cornerback Will Johnson were the main impact newcomers. A pair of junior-college standouts, Westbrook and Johnson, made major contributions on offense and defense, while Samia stabilized the offensive line and Seibert excelled on special teams.
Headliner: Nobody wants to talk about kickers until they don’t have one. Kicker/punter Austin Seibert made life a lot easier for Oklahoma’s special teams, finishing among the conference leaders in field goals over 40 yards (6-of-7) and net punting (41.28).
4. Texas Tech (35th, fifth)
Summary: The Red Raiders saw several true freshmen become impact contributors, including linebacker D’Vonta Hinton, defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko, receiver Keke Coutee and receiver Tony Brown. All four true freshmen started games during the 2015 season, with Fehoko and Hinton making major impacts.
Headliner: Fehoko didn’t have huge numbers but he was a valuable asset in the middle of the Red Raiders' defense, finishing with 19 tackles, including four tackles for loss, one sack and one interception in 13 starts. Fehoko was the headliner on signing day and backed it up by starting every game as a true freshman and earning honorable mention All-Big 12 honors.
5. Kansas (61st, ninth)
Summary: The Jayhawks were forced to play several of the signees in David Beaty’s first class but some potential hidden gems emerged, including quarterback Ryan Willis, defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr. and tackle Larry Hughes.
Headliner: Willis showed a competitive edge and solid potential after taking over at quarterback. He finished with 1,719 passing yards along with nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
6. Iowa State (66th, 10th)
Summary: The Cyclones had two true freshmen (Carson Epps, Joshua Thomas) escape a redshirt season, but defensive tackle Demond Tucker was the Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year. Thomas was the Cyclones' short-yardage back and could end up as a terrific complement for Mike Warren, and Epps forced his way onto the field despite a deep corps of receivers.
Headliner: Tucker got more and more disruptive as the season progressed. He had 28 tackles, including 13 tackles for loss, and six sacks.
7. West Virginia (36th, sixth)
Summary: Only three true freshmen, all receivers, played for the Mountaineers. Jovon Durante was the best of the bunch, making an impact at receiver and in the return game. But Durante, David Sills, Gary Jennings and Ka’Raun White were newcomers tasked with replacing Kevin White and Mario Alford. Otherwise the Class of 2015 was relatively quiet.
Headliner: Durante was the biggest-impact newcomer, starting nine games. He finished with 24 receptions for 378 yards and five touchdowns.
8. Oklahoma State (34th, fourth)
Summary: Defensive tackle Darrion Daniels, receiver Jalen McCleskey and running back Jeff Carr were Oklahoma State’s main contributors as true freshmen. Junior-college transfer Chris Carson didn’t have the impact expected when he was tabbed Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year.
Headliner: Daniels could become a mainstay in the middle for Oklahoma State. He wasn’t an overwhelming force as a true freshman -- finishing with 16 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss -- but he flashed ability that could make him a critical player as a sophomore if he continues to mature.
9. Kansas State (59th, eighth)
Summary: The Wildcats didn’t see much of an impact from their recruiting class. Cornerback Duke Shelley was the top contributor after seeing his redshirt stripped during conference play and going on to start eight games.
Headliner: The first true freshman to start at cornerback since 2006, Shelley became one of the Big 12’s top true freshmen. He started the final eight games of the regular season, finishing with 28 tackles and seven pass breakups.
10. Baylor (32nd, third)
Summary: The Bears didn’t have much of an impact from their recruiting class in its first season at Baylor. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it is a sign the Bears had better, more experienced options at those positions and could afford to redshirt several talented players like ESPN300 running back signee JaMycal Hasty.
Headliner: Quarterback Jarrett Stidham lived up to his preseason billing as an elite quarterback prospect. Forced into the lineup after Seth Russell’s injury, Stidham finished 75-of-109 for 1,265 yards with 12 touchdowns and two interceptions in 10 games (three starts).