National Signing Day blog: Baylor Bears
Credit: Getty Images
Head coach Art Briles of the Baylor Bears reacts in the first quarter while taking on the Oklahoma Sooners at Floyd Casey Stadium on November 7, 2013 in Waco. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Posted on February 5, 2014 at 4:26 PM
Wednesday, Feb 5 at 4:31 PM
The Bears have arrived. And they're going to keep coming.
Under Art Briles' leadership, Baylor has transformed its football program from a perennial afterthought to a regular Big 12 powerhouse. They've done so by building the NCAA's best offense over the last three years, and as that unit brought attention to the Waco private school, defensive prospects began to notice, too. Baylor was a top-5 team at one point this year, and while they couldn't hold on to that distinction, they did win their first ever Big 12 football championship.
The program's become an unbelievable source for offensive talent. We all know about Robert Griffin III, who the Redskins traded an alarming number of premium draft picks to acquire. But little-known Nick Florence followed him at quarterback the next year and put up nearly identical numbers. And Bryce Petty might be a first-round pick in next year's draft. And somehow, the quarterbacks aren't even the headliners. Kendall Wright, Josh Gordon and Terrance Williams were all selected out of Baylor in the past three drafts. This year, they combined for 225 catches and 3,461 yards. In the NFL. If you combined them on one roster, I don't know if there would be a better trio of wide receivers on any team beside maybe Denver - and the stats of Thomas, Welker and Decker are skewed by Peyton Manning.
That was a very roundabout way of getting to the primary point, which is this: Art Briles and his staff really, really know talent - and they can develop the heck out of it. And now that Baylor has distinguished itself as a legitimate power, the rich will get richer. Briles knows what he's good at, and he focused on it in a serious way this year. Baylor recruited what might be the best class of wide receivers in the country. It's headlined by KD Cannon, a concensus top-35 prospect from Mount Pleasant, whose reputation as a downfield burner should fit tremendously well in Briles' spread offense.
Davion Hall is another premier addition; a safety/wide receiver who will likely play more offense than defense at Baylor. Ishamel Zamora, a 6'4 receiver from Houston, adds size to the group - but the emphasis remains on speed, as evidenced by Chris Platt, a 5'10, 157-pound receiver from Willis High School. Overall, that's three four-star wide receivers and one five-star recruit. Briles knows this is where his class shines:
This isn't a one-dimensional group, however. T'Kevian Rockwell is a well-regarded safety and cornerbacks Chris Sanders, Verkedric Vaughn and Tion Wright should help him improve the Bears' secondary. The team also picked up another Terrance Williams - though this one spells his name Terence and is an Ennis Running Back, not a Dallas wide receiver. He's very talented, though - the 6'2, 220-pound runner could be a mainstay in the Baylor backfield very soon. The team also picked up some solid offensive line depth, headlined by transfer guard Jarrell Broxton and a massive (6'7,330) Rockdale High School lineman named Josh Pelzel. James Jacobs III and Cordell Dorsey are a pair of talented young linebackers Baylor fans can look forward to seeing in the future.
Baylor's overall class can't compete with that of the Longhorns, Aggies or Sooners - but it's a very strong group, probably one of the 30 best in the nation - and it's a well-structured group that emphasizes what the school's staff does best: Aerial warfare, preferably 30 or more yards away from the line of scrimmage.