Thursday night may not be the best nights for hosting players, but it definitely makes for great nights to see two top-ranked teams go at it in a nationally televised showdown. No. 6 Baylor hosts No. 10 Oklahoma in what may be the most anticipated Big 12 matchup of the year not called the Red River Rivalry.
From a recruiting standpoint, Thursday’s game may have more importance to Oklahoma than Baylor. The Bears are sitting comfortably with 23 commits, including ESPN 300 players in athlete Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau), inside linebacker James David (Rockdale, Texas/Rockdale) and receivers K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant) and Ishmael Zamora (Houston/Alief Elsik). The Sooners are looking to bulk up its recruiting class. Oklahoma has 15 committed, the latest on Wednesday being three-star athlete Dimitri Flowers (San Antonio/Churchill).
Along with the aforementioned, here are seven 2014 and 2015 prospects, in alphabetical order, who will be paying attention to what happens on Thursday:
ESPN Junior 300 OG Jalin Barnett (Lawton, Okla./Lawton): The nation’s No. 8 overall player and top-ranked 2015 in the Midlands region, Barnett is looking strongly at staying in state for college and becoming a Sooner. Barnett is still wide open, but a signature performance against the Bears could give the Sooners an inside track on the 6-4, 285-pound lineman.
ESPN 300 CB Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen): Brown has multiple offers -- Baylor and Oklahoma included -- and the nation’s No. 11 player is getting closer to narrowing his decision. While many believe LSU and Texas A&M are the teams to beat, Brown has expressed his respect for both the Baylor and Oklahoma. He will be paying attention to both secondary units on Thursday.
Four-star DT Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview): After decommitting from TCU in September, Henderson put Baylor in his top six. The Bears are still in the hunt, but Oklahoma also has creept into the conversation. The 6-1, 281-pound tackle is looking to set up an official visit to Oklahoma. Henderson has a secret top three, and a decision could come before the end of the month.
ESPN Junior 300 DT Marquise Overton (Jenks, Okla./Jenks): Overton has an offer from Baylor but doesn’t have an offer from Oklahoma. The No. 86 player in the ESPN Junior 300, however, does have strong interest from the Sooners. The big question: Will Overton cross the Red River to play college ball? Or will the 6-1, 301-pound tackle wait for Oklahoma? Or will he go elsewhere?
ESPN 300 S Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks): Parker, No. 200 in the ESPN 300, has Oklahoma very high on his list, along with Oklahoma State. If the 6-foot-2, 195-pound safety were to leave to play college ball in Texas, some feel Texas A&M is in front, but Baylor could be a late entry as we inch closer to signing day. The Sooners could gain leverage with a solid effort against Baylor.
ESPN 300 DE Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell): Thomas said he’s trying to make it to Waco for the game. Baylor and Oklahoma both have offered the 6-3, 256-pound defensive end, and the race for Thomas is still wide open. We may not find out anything about Thomas until the last days before signing day, so every game, atmosphere and upcoming visit will be important.
ESPN Junior 300 OG Joshua Wariboko (Oklahoma City/Casady): Wariboko committed to Oklahoma on June 27. It doesn’t appear that the 6-3, 310-pound interior lineman is looking for a new home, but a game like this can help motivate an early commit to do some additional player recruiting. Wariboko is No. 88 in the ESPN Junior 300.