An 11-1 season resulted in a school-record for victories. There was also a first-ever Big 12 title and first-ever BCS bowl berth. And a new, state-of-the-art stadium is something to look forward to for next season.
Not a bad season for the Baylor Bears. And if Baylor's commits have anything to do with it, the 2013 success is just the beginning.
A group of commits are beyond elated about the future of the program. Baylor has 27 commits in its 2014 class -- four of whom have already signed as mid-year, junior-college transfers -- and three are in its 2015 class. The Bears have four ESPN 300 players, one ESPN Junior College 50 player and one ESPN Junior 300 player.
Ask the commits, and the classes get high marks. And, to many, rightfully so. “A-plus,” said ESPN 300 athlete Davion Hall (Texarkana, Texas/Liberty-Eylau). “We have people that play different positions and not just same ones.”
“Scale of 1-10, I’ll give it a 10,” added ESPN 300 wide receiver K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant). “Baylor has done a good job in getting players who want to win and play every game like it’s his last. We don’t have a lot of five-star people, but we all are willing to show the world that stars don’t mean anything.”
When Baylor held its first junior day of 2013, it was fortunate to land verbals from three standouts in Hall, running back Terence Williams (Ennis, Texas/Ennis) and wide receiver Chris Platt (Willis, Texas/Willis). Since then, Baylor’s class has grown to become a top-20 class nationally. The Bears are ranked No. 16 in the latest RecruitingNation class rankings, second only to No. 13 Texas in the Big 12 conference rankings.
ESPN 300 wide receiver Ishmael Zamora (Houston/Alief Elsik) graded the class a “95,” a quality mark considering he’s very critical of giving it or any other group a perfect score. Zamora is a fan of this class, and he’s excited about his future teammates. Statistically, Baylor has 14 defensive commits, 11 offensive commits and two who could see time on both sides of the ball.
“We got basically all position [players] who were top talent and can flat-out ball,” Zamora said.
The missing link of the class, according to Zamora? A lack of a quarterback commit. Every wide receiver commit wants his own quarterback in the class, but the Bears won’t be hurting for a signal-caller in the immediate future. Bryce Petty said he will return to Baylor for his senior season. Seth Russell just finished his redshirt freshman campaign, Andrew Frerking will be a junior, and Cole Edmiston and Chris Johnson -- an ESPN 300 player from the 2013 class -- will be sophomores.
And then there’s the 2015 class. Baylor received commits from ESPN Junior 300 athlete Chad President (Temple, Texas/Temple) and three-star athlete Blake Lynch (Troup, Texas/Troup) -- two players who can line up at both quarterback and wide receiver.
For both President and Lynch, who still have a year of high school ball remaining, the goals of following in the footsteps of this Baylor squad are sky high -- and attainable.
“Another Big 12 championship,” President said, referring to upcoming college goals. “Hopefully, we can play in the national championship game. We have an A-plus, five-star recruiting class.”
Lynch added: “I think we have one of the best 2014 recruiting classes in the nation. Our versatility and diversity is what makes our 2014 class special.”
I think we have one of the best 2014 recruiting classes in the nation. Our versatility and diversity is what makes our 2014 class special.
”-- Baylor commit Blake Lynch
Three-star safety Chance Waz (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson), the latest high school player to commit to the Bears, switched his pledge to Baylor from Nebraska. He wanted the opportunity to play close to home, and he's excited about the talent he’ll be surrounded by. Waz said the 2014 Baylor class could be compared to Ole Miss' 2013 class, a group that saw several freshmen thrust into starting positions and become major contributors in the super-competitive SEC.
“A lot of Ole Miss players saw PT [playing time]. I follow at least five [of them] on Twitter,” Waz said. “I think a lot of us can get playing time; we just have to see what we do in camp.”
When asked about the comparison and the shot at immediate playing time, Hall said, “It all depends on us and work ethic, but I don’t think that will be a problem.”
Expect all of the commits to be paying full attention to Baylor as it faces Central Florida on Jan. 1 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. And they'll continue monitoring who commits between now and Feb. 6, the first day to sign a national letter of intent. And they're watching the 2015 class as well.
Cannon said there are tons of talented players he’d love to call a teammate. And there’s one in particular, however, who has caught his eye.
“I hope we get that No. 1 corner,” Cannon said, referring to ESPN Junior 300 Kendall Sheffield (Missouri City, Texas/Fort Bend Marshall), the nation’s No. 13 overall player and the top-ranked player in Texas for the 2015 class. Sheffield has a Baylor offer but also has offers from Alabama, Texas A&M, LSU, Texas, Ohio State, Oklahoma and a host of other recruiting heavyweights.
Time will tell, but it looks like Baylor has set a new bar. And it doesn’t plan on looking back.