Big 12 had minor impact on recruiting

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    The Horned Frogs signed 23 new football players on National Signing Day for their first season in the Big 12 Conference.

    TCU’s 2012 recruiting class, finalized Feb. 1, was consistently ranked in the top 25 in the nation by ESPN.com leading up to Signing Day. Head coach Gary Patterson said the depth this class could provide would be beneficial to the Frogs’ next season in the Big 12.

    Moving to a bigger, more competitive conference was not enough to bring top athletes to TCU, though, Patterson said in a press conference.

    “The bottom line is you have to win,” Patterson said. “If you want kids to come to your place, you just can’t go to the Big 12, you’ve got to go win.”

    He was not exactly sure how much the move to the Big 12 Conference impacted this recruiting class, but he thought it helped the coaching staff hold on to most of the 23 future Frogs, he said.

    Jeremy Clark, a recruiting analyst and writer for Scout.com, said the switch to the Big 12 did not have a major effect on the 2012 recruiting class because TCU had a lot to offer besides a great conference.

    “TCU really sells itself,” he said. “They don’t have to go out there and sell the Big 12 Conference. They have nice facilities coming up. They graduate their players, and they have a good program. They won the Rose Bowl and have been to two BCS games, and they’re a top-15 team every year.”

    Devonte Fields, a defensive end from Arlington Martin High School who signed his letter of intent on Signing Day, said playing in the Big 12 could bring more highly sought-after recruits and that all of the players in this class “liked TCU just for TCU.”

    Fields, who was rated as the 11th-best defensive end in the nation by ESPN.com, said he enjoyed the atmosphere, coaches and facilities at TCU and that he was ready to get to campus.

    “I’m just ready to play football, really, and get a good name for myself on the football field and in the classroom and everything,” he said.

    Patterson said he thought Fields was the best defensive end in Texas and that Fields’ athletic ability could lead to playing time as a true freshman.

    Jaden Oberkrom, a kicker and teammate of Fields at Martin High School, said the campus, degrees, coaches and proximity to home were all appealing but that he was excited the Frogs would play in a new conference.

    “[I’m] excited for the Big 12 especially,” he said. “I grew up watching that with my dad.”

    With five true freshmen playing in 2011, Patterson said the players’ work ethic and their will to play as freshmen could decide who makes an impact in 2012.