Baylor loads up on defense with recruiting class


Associated Press

Posted on February 1, 2012 at 9:06 PM

WACO, Texas (AP) — Baylor is getting defensive after one of the best seasons in school history.

After tying a school record with 10 wins last season, the Bears on Wednesday signed a class of 23 players. That included 13 defensive players — four linemen, four linebackers and five defensive backs.

"This year's class certainly fills needs, we went heavy on defense," coach Art Briles said. "We felt like we needed to make sure that we give ourselves every opportunity to have as good a defense as possible. ... We really tried to address the defensive side of the ball this year"

Baylor last season tied plenty of offensive records with Heisman Trophy quarterback Robert Griffin III, who announced last month that he is bypassing his senior season for early entry into the NFL draft.

The Bears got their 10th win and first bowl victory in 19 years with a 67-56 win over Washington in the Alamo Bowl, which shattered the previous record for points in regulation of a bowl game. That game also set a bowl record for total offense with a combined 1,397 yards.

The signing class was highlighted by two nationally recognized defenders from Texas, lineman Javonte Magee of Sam Houston High School in San Antonio and linebacker Brian Nance from Trinity High School in Euless.

"I think you would have to dust off a few Texas Football magazines to find somebody as big of a recruit as Magee signing to come on to Baylor. This guy could have gone anywhere in the nation and he chose Baylor. Magee is going to be a dynamic player," Briles said. "Brian Nance is a big physical linebacker, who is an impact player and a really good leader."

All but one of the 23 signees are from Texas.

Two of the players are already enrolled at Baylor and will take part in spring drills. They are linebacker Eddie Lackey from Riverside Community College, the only junior college transfer, and early high school graduate Lynx Hawthorne, a receiver and punter from Refugio High in Texas.

"We signed an extremely talented class, by far the most talented we have signed in my time here," said Briles, who just completed his fourth season. "I think it's reflective of how our 2011 season went. Putting 10 wins up and having won the Heisman trophy, as well as the idea of having a new football stadium, all played a huge part in this year's recruiting class."

The only quarterback in this year's class is Seth Russell, a dual-threat quarterback from Garland, Texas. Russell threw for 1,502 yards and 12 touchdowns while running for 471 yards and seven more scores as a prep senior.

"If Robert had decided to stay in college, we probably would not have taken a quarterback this year," Briles said. "During our camps last year, Seth Russell was a guy, we as a coaching staff, could not take our eyes off of. We kept in contact with Seth since last year, up until today and we are excited about him coming Baylor."