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— Mackenzie K (@MackNova) November 13, 2013
This answer is quite simple, in my opinion. Baylor has had the luxury of recruiting undercover. What I mean by this is we often hear about under-the-radar prospects, but Baylor has been able to recruit as an under-the-radar program. When you have had as many down years as Baylor had before Art Briles’ arrival, you have very few expectations from just about everyone but the coaching staff.
With today’s premier programs, they are all under such immense pressure to sign as many four and five-star players, and if you pursue players who don’t fit into that mold, you are perceived to not be doing a good job. Baylor hasn’t had to deal with this type of pressure …yet. Put it this way: If Texas would have signed LaMichael James, many of the Texas faithful at that time would have said, “Who?” However, Oregon comes in and signs him with much lower expectations from their fan base and less pressure in terms of people caring about who a guy is, instead of what he means for the program, and presto! A great player is born and helps build a program.
I could run down the roster of the Baylor Bears and point to 20 players like LaMichael James that have helped put this program on the map, but coming out of high school were likely undervalued. This has allowed Briles and the staff to focus on what is important. Getting the best player or perceived best player isn’t always the same thing as getting the right player. Briles has predicated his blueprint in recruiting on making sure the player is the right fit, while at the same time developing and making accurate projections athletically. They haven’t had to worry about pressure of what people think and oftentimes haven’t even had to get into too many battles over lots of guys because Baylor might have been the best option for the prospect.
Here’s a warning for Baylor fans and alumni: Don’t screw this up. Let them be who they are, because it works. Expectations are now different and that is a good thing. It will only get tougher from here, but don’t make it harder than it needs to be by all of a sudden requiring Baylor to start changing their process. If higher-profile guys are now open to Baylor who weren’t before, great, but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily the right player.
Let Briles make that call; he’s done a darn good job so far.