There is not a team west of the Mississippi that has enjoyed a faster rise than the Baylor Bears.
Fresh off a Big 12 championship and a top 25 recruiting class, Art Briles and staff are riding that momentum on the recruiting trail for the Class of 2015. The Bears' most recent commitment came last week from running back Ja'Mycal Hasty, the No. 117 player in the ESPN Junior 300.
The Bears are again in contention for a top 25 class -- and this one is poised to include even more speed and playmakers. Here's a look at the prospects Baylor is targeting:
Defensive tackle Darrion Daniels: The top defensive tackle on the Bears' board, Baylor is in the mix with Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma State for the 6-foot-4, 290-pounder.
Offensive guard Conner Dyer: The Bears have evaluated really well on the offensive line under Briles, and the marked man in 2015 is Dallas-area tackle Dyer. Oklahoma and Stanford join the Bears as frontrunners, with Ohio State, Texas A&M and TCU squarely in the mix.
Cornerback Holton Hill: Secondary is a key need for Baylor in 2015, and lengthy corner and No. 259-overall Hill is at the top of the list for the Bears. Instate powers Texas A&M and Texas are thought to have the inside track with Florida State lurking outside the state lines.
Wide receiver John Humphrey Jr.: The Bears have surged to the front of the pack for the Houston area speedster who consistently clocks in the low 4.4's in the 40-yard dash. The competition comes from Oklahoma, TCU, Ole Miss, Arkansas and a growing list of others.
Athlete Soso Jamabo: Once a long shot, Baylor is now in the thick of the race for the versatile back. No. 45 overall in the ESPN Junior 300, Jamabo has Oregon and Oklahoma at the top of the list with the Bears.
Wide receiver DaMarkus Lodge: The No. 44 prospect, Lodge continues to be the most coveted wide receiver in the Lone Star state and the Bears are at the top of a list that includes Texas A&M. Ole Miss, LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma State and others.
Outside linebacker Malik Jefferson: The No. 43 overall prospect was on campus in Waco with his parents two weeks ago and the Bears are making a strong impression. In-state schools Texas A&M and Texas are also in the mix, along with Oklahoma, Alabama, Ohio State and Ole Miss. Proximity to home for the Mesquite, Texas native is expected to be a key factor.
Running back Ronald Jones: The Under Armour All-America selection released a top 10 of Baylor, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Alabama, USC, Arkansas, Miami and Iowa. The Bears are considered among the top three or four, despite the recent commitment of Hasty.
Defensive end James Lockhart: Lockhart will likely not decide until January. Baylor continues to be recruiting from a position of strength for the No. 82 prospect, with Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Alabama and Ohio State squarely in the mix.
Locking down North Carolina
For programs in North Carolina, keeping the best of the best at home has proven to be a tough challenge. In each of the 2013 and 2014 classes, eight of the top 10 prospects in have left the state for college. The state's 2015 class is littered with top defensive line prospects and one fast rising running back. It is paramount for UNC, Duke and NC State to lock down the state and stop the mass exodus to South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee (among others). Here's a look at the in-state prospects that North Carolina programs should be focused on: