All things considered, you couldn't have reasonably asked for much more from Kliff Kingsbury and his staff in their inaugural recruiting effort. Kingsbury was faced with the double tasks of assembling his staff while simultaneously rebuilding a recruiting class that had almost come apart at the seams following Tommy Tuberville's hasty departure to the frosty climes of Cincinnati.
The 2013 class could easily have been one of crumbs, leftovers and filler, and nobody would have complained. Instead, this group has its fair share of undeniable talent, and is particularly deep at receiver and offensive line.
Mike Leach's initial recruiting class was not nationally lauded, but produced several fine players (a certain Wes Welker among them). It is likely Kliff Kingsbury's will follow suit. Below are several of Kingsbury's jewels.
Class MVP: Devin Lauderdale—This phenom out of Houston Bellaire may not even turn out to be the best pure receiver in this class, but his amazing skills with the ball in his hands should elevate him to MVP status. Lauderdale has greasy fast speed and is T.R.O.U.B.L.E. when toting the rock. Because of his ability to house it every time he touches the ball, look for Lauderdale to be used with great frequency on the fly sweep. Lauderdale is also something extra as a punt returner. Almost reminds one of another guy named Devin…
Offensive MVP: Dylan Cantrell—No doubt about it, Tech's 2013 class tilts towards offense, and Cantrell may be the most celebrated recruit on that side of the ball. Justifiably so. There's not a lot he can't do as a receiver. Cantrell catches the fade like a pro, which should suit Kliff Kingsbury just fine. He uses his big frame to ward off defenders, has great hand-to-eye coordination, possesses great concentration, is a sly route-runner, sheds would-be tacklers with ease, and is already very polished. Cantrell should make an immediate splash.
Defensive MVP: Zach Barnes--It is difficult to project whether Zach Barnes will wind up at linebacker or defensive end, but his physical play will likely pay more dividends at linebacker so that is the prognostication here. Barnes has tremendous upper body strength and brings a load when making contact with a blocker or ball-carrier. And at six-foot-four and 230 pounds, you love his size right now and what he may grow into. Barnes could probably carry 255 pounds with no problem.
Offensive Sleeper: Cody Hayes—At six-foot-six and 260 pounds, Cody Hayes is not yet ready for the rigors of the Big 12. But when Hayes packs on another 30 pounds, Big 12 defensive ends may not be ready for the rigors of him! It's easy to see a future star when watching Hayes play. His footwork is excellent, he sets a very good base, runs well and has great length for a tackle. Once Hayes adds some more muscle and learns how to use his hands to ward off bull rushers, look out.
Defensive Sleeper: Malik Jenkins—This linebacker from Ennis has the measureables scouts and coaches love. For that reason, it's a bit of a mystery that Jenkins was not more heavily recruited. He is six-foot-three and 225 pounds, which means he'll likely play at 240-245. Jenkins runs like a Ferrari and explodes like a daisy-cutter. He could grow into a real force for Kingsbury and his defensive staff.