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Texas sits atop Big 12 recruiting rankings

Texas finished strong to sit atop the Big 12 recruiting rankings with the nation's No. 9 class. Six other conference schools joined UT among the Top 40 classes in the nation, including Texas Tech who finished with four ESPN 300 signees, more than back-to-back Big 12 champion Baylor.

Here's a closer look at the final team rankings and the headline signees for each class.

No. 9 Texas

ESPN 300 signees: 14

ESPN JC50 signees: 0

Headliner: Mesquite (Texas) Poteet linebacker Malik Jefferson is the face of the class as his decision to become a part of UT’s class helped spark a strong finish to Charlie Strong’s first full recruiting cycle on the 40 acres. The No. 31 player in the ESPN 300 is already on campus and could emerge as a contributor as a true freshman.

The story: The Longhorns ended strong by flipping ESPN 300 receiver Ryan Newsome and former Oregon commit P.J. Locke on signing day then landing ESPN 300 running back Chris Warren to round out a solid class. In addition, UT filled a major potential hole in the class by securing former Florida State commit Kai Locksley at quarterback.

What they said: “It’s so great to see the way we ended with this class.” — UT coach Charlie Strong

No. 17 Oklahoma

ESPN 300 signees: 8

ESPN JC50 signees: 2

Headliner: Pflugerville (Texas) Hendrickson cornerback P.J. Mbanasor is a elite prospect at a need position for the Sooners. The No. 74 player in the ESPN 300 brings size (6-foot-1, 183 pounds) and athleticism to OU’s secondary.

The story: OU signed six defensive backs in total with an eye on improving a pass defense that was among the worst in the nation in 2014. Five of the six defensive backs are four-star prospects.

What they said: “I believe it's probably the best secondary class I've been a part of signing.” — OU coach Bob Stoops

No. 32 Baylor

ESPN 300 signees: 3

ESPN JC50 signees: 1

Headliner: Stephenville (Texas) quarterback Jarrett Stidham appeared headed to Texas Tech before deciding he’d rather trigger Baylor’s offensive attack. The No. 37 player in the ESPN 300, Stidham is already on campus and preparing to battle to become the starter for Art Briles team.

The story: The Bears loaded up on skill position players with ESPN 300 members Stidham, receiver Devontre Stricklin and running back Ja'Mycal Hasty. The Bears also looked to address their secondary with five defensive back signees including four-star prospects J.W. Ketchum and Blake Lynch.

What they said: “We've reached the point now with our program, fortunately, where recruiting is all about filling the needs that we have, instead of just trying to get the best available.” — Baylor coach Art Briles

No. 34 Oklahoma State

ESPN 300 signees: 3

ESPN JC50 signees: 2

Headliner: Norman (Oklahoma) North quarterback John Kolar could end up being the perfect prospect to run the Cowboys offense during his time in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The No. 72 player in the ESPN 300 isn’t an instant impact player with Mason Rudolph's emergence as a true freshman but Kolar could end up being one of the Big 12’s top signees in the Class of 2015.

The story: The Cowboys had several positions to address, particularly offensive line and running back, and dipped into the junior college ranks to do answer those questions. Junior college running backs Chris Carson and Todd Mays join three junior college offensive linemen and UAB transfer offensive tackle Victor Salako to give the Pokes some immediate options.

What they said: “I’ve never been worried about that. I used to put a lot of stock in that, but we’ve had so many high-rated players with a good physical and mental makeup come in here, but just not be into it. Then, we get some guys who aren’t rated too high, but football is much more important to them.” — OSU coach Mike Gundy on this class being rated lower than previous classes.

No. 35 Texas Tech

ESPN 300 signees: 4

ESPN JC50 signees: 0

Headliner: Honolulu (Hawaii) Farrington defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko could end up being the top Big 12 signee in this class. The No. 51 player in the ESPN 300 was unwavering in his commitment to becoming a Red Raider. Now the work starts for Fehoko, who could emerge as a mainstay in the middle of Tech’s defense as early as this fall.

The story: Kliff Kingsbury’s program put in work on signing day, finishing as well as any team in the Big 12. Tech flipped former TCU commit J.F. Thomas, a four-star receiver, and ESPN 300 safety Jamile Johnson on Wednesday. Tech signed seven four-star prospects, a remarkable feat for a program that went 4-8 in 2014.

What they said: “A lot of these kids were committed before the season started. For them to stick with us through a rough year, it meant a lot to us as a staff.” —Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury.

No. 36 West Virginia

ESPN 300 signees: 2

ESPN JC50 signees: 1

Headliner: Kevin White and Mario Alford aren’t walking through that door. But Miramar (Florida) receiver Jovon Durante is. The No. 126 player in the ESPN 300 could be just what the doctor ordered for WVU, bringing exceptional explosiveness at a need position. Nearly every school wanted Durante but the Mountaineers got him.

The story: The Mountaineers have done a terrific job of going into Florida along with other spots east of the Mississippi and selling themselves as the Big 12’s east coast option. Signees from Florida, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and New Jersey decided to play college football in the Big 12. And don’t forget about Kevin White’s little brother, junior college signee Ka'Raun White.

What they said: “We made the decision to kind of remove ourselves from Texas just a little bit. Once we were competing against all of the schools in Texas it made it a little bit harder to get that caliber of player that we needed in order to be able to compete in the Big 12.” — WVU coach Dana Holgorsen.

No. 37 TCU

ESPN 300 signees: 0

ESPN JC50 signees: 0

Headliner: Monroe (Louisiana) Neville receiver Kavontae Turpin joins Metairie (Louisiana) East Jefferson cornerback DeShawn Raymond as the lone four-stars on the Horned Frogs’ signee list. Turpin could be a solid fit in TCU’s offense as an ideal slot receiver and Raymond has a eye on continuing the Horned Frogs’ trend of stellar cornerbacks.

The story: TCU struck out in some areas but the overall class is stocked with talented athletes for whom Gary Patterson will find the ideal fit into his program. The Horned Frogs added five receivers to the program with Turpin heading the list and being joined by Jaelan Austin, Tre'Vontae Hights, Tony James and Jarrison Stewart.

No. 59 Kansas State

ESPN 300 signees: 0

ESPN JC50 signees: 0

Headliner: DeSoto (Texas) defensive tackle Bryce English picked the Wildcats on signing day and appears to be a terrific fit in Bill Snyder’s program. The three-star prospect boasted several quality offers including Texas and UCLA. He may not play right away but he could turn out to be a terrific anchor.

The story: Once again the Wildcats class gets largely overlooked on signing day but several players including quarterback Alex Dalton and running back Alex Barnes could become key cogs in KSU’s offense in the near future.

What they said: “As we all know by now, it will be two or three years before we can accurately assess the quality of this or any recruiting class. Hopefully we have assessed the skills and intrinsic values of this year’s class accurately, but time will tell.” — KSU coach Bill Snyder

No. 61 Kansas

ESPN 300 signees: 0

ESPN JC50 signees: 0

Headliner: Houston North Shore defensive end Dorance Armstrong is a three-star prospect who picked KU over Cal, Michigan State and others. He’s quick and plays with plenty of energy so Armstrong could make an immediate impact.

The story: The Jayhawks did a solid job in Texas during David Beaty’s initial class with 17 of 24 signees from the state of Texas. The Jayhawks staff is full of coaches with solid recruiting ties in Texas and leaned on those relationships to land guys like Armstrong and Sherman (Texas) guard Aaron Garza.

What they said: “He had to be good and he had to be a Kansas guy. He had to be a guy that fit what we were looking for. If he didn't, we had to be courageous enough to turn the page.” — KU coach David Beaty.

No. 66 Iowa State

ESPN 300 signees: 0

ESPN JC50 signees: 1

Headliner: Hazlehurst (Mississippi) Copiah-Lincoln Community College defensive tackle Demond Tucker could be the most important signee in the Big 12. The Cyclones desperately need help in the defensive interior and the No. 28 player in the ESPN JC 50 could provide a stellar building block for Paul Rhoads.

The story: Tucker was one of five defensive linemen who inked with ISU, addressing a position that handcuffed the Cyclones for the bulk of the 2014 season. A combination of junior college defensive linemen and prep defensive line standouts could help Rhoads program set itself up for 2015 and beyond.

What they said: “Defensive linemen are the hardest position to recruit in all of the country. That’s true for every school. We needed to enhance that group and we did that with this class.” — Rhoads