The past four years, the Bears have had quite a few successful wide receivers. We have seen the likes of David Gettis, Trent Shelton and Dominique Zeigler get a shot in the NFL. We have seen guys like Ernest Smith and Thomas White and even Josh Gordon show flashes of great play under current Head Coach Art Briles. However, only one player has led the Bears in receiving the past four years, and that player is now a Tennessee Titan.
Kendall Wright leaves huge shoes to fill. If it weren't for another player on offense that came in that 2008 recruiting class, Wright would be the Bears biggest loss. Over 300 receptions for more than 4000 yards and 30 touchdowns. That is what the Bears are going to try and replace next year.
Baylor though welcomes back several players with potential to be All-Big 12 or even first round picks. They have depth, experience, and some young guys waiting to take on bigger roles.
The Bears are returning 3 of their four starters from the 2011 season, with the two outside receivers both coming back for their 3rd year of significant playing time. Terrance Williams and Lanear Sampson both came to Baylor the same year that Kendall Wright did, but they both took their redshirt year and grew as players.
Lanear Sampson was the higher ranked of the two being the 82nd ranked WR in the class, with Terrance Williams being judged at 262. Needless to say, both players have out-performed their recruiting rankings.
Williams is the leading receiver coming back for the Bears, and scored 11 touchdowns on the year, including one of the biggest in Baylor history; the winner against OU. He is one of the top returning players in the Big 12, and early 2012 draft evaluations have him as a 1st round draft choice. While he is not expected to fill Wright's position of Inside receiver, he is expected to fill his Go-To role for the offense.
Sampson comes back looking to build on a solid junior year. He is a tough receiver, who is a tremendous blocker for his size. He is a steady target and knows his routes and where to be. While he lacks some of the big play ability that Williams has, he is a dependable player that the Bears have counted on for several years.
Joining the two seniors is one player that I am very excited to see get an even bigger role for his Junior Campaign. Another under-recruited 3-star player that Art Briles has turned into an All-Big 12 caliber performer, Tevin Reese had a break-out 2011 campaign. While he only caught 6 more passes in his sophomore campaign, he caught 7 more touchdowns and more than doubled his yards. He turned into an explosive offensive threat, averaging over 17.5 yards per reception, which led the Bears main receivers.
The final starting inside receiver spot right now is held by Levi Norwood, who primarily played special teams as a return specialist. Norwood, a sophomore, will have some serious competition at the position with several red-shirt players and incoming freshman.
Leading the charge of younger players looking for playing time is Jay Lee, a 6-4 receiver who is more of a outside threat. He was a 4-star recruit who reportedly looked excellent on the scout team. With great experience on the outside ahead of him, he did get some looks at the IR position during the spring game.
However, the big name coming to the inside receiver spot is Corey Coleman, a 4-star player who compares very favorably to the man he could be replacing, the aforementioned Kendall Wright. Coleman bring exceptional speed, and tremendous athletic ability to the position. Personally, I am very excited to see what this young man can do in Waco, as he has all of the tools to be a special talent.
In terms of the overall health of the position, the Bears are bringing in 3 players in this Freshman class, and are looking at bringing at least 3 more in the 2012 class. Currently with two commits, they are looking to land a big fish with their next spot. Leading the "wish list" for the Bears is Fort Worth Southwest High School player Robbie Rhodes. Rhodes has shot up the recruiting ranks the past month or so, after showing off his world class athleticism. Rhodes has been rumored as a Baylor lean the past few weeks, with TCU and to a lesser extent Texas being involved in his recruitment.
Joining Rhodes in the Baylor wish list is an even bigger recruit, both in terms of stature and rank. The freshly de-committed Texas Longhorn, Ricky Seals-Jones is rumored to be looking at the Bears as an option for not only football, but basketball as well. He is a top level 5-star talent, that any team would be happy to get.
Currently committed to the Bears are outside receiver Quan Jones and inside receiver Kyle Fulks. Jones is a tall rangy receiver with good ball skills, while Fulks is a pure speed threat who can stretch the field and make defenses pay for giving too much attention to the outside guys.
I expect the Bears to sign 1 or 2 more receivers in this class, as they have 2 scholarship players graduating and have a lot of young and unproven talent at the outside receiver position especially.
Current Depth Chart:
Wide Receiver -
1. Terrance Williams - 6-3, 205 - SR 1. Lanear Sampson - 5-11, 200 - SR
Antwan Goodley - 5-10, 220 - SO. 2. Jay Lee - 6-3, 205 - rFR
Inside Receiver -
1. Tevin Reese - 5-10, 165 - JR 1. Levi Norwood - 6-2, 190 - SO
2. Clay Fuller - 6-1, 200 - SO 2. Michae Valdez - 5-10, 185 - SR
1. Corey Coleman - 5-11, 178 - 4-star (23rd ranked WR)
2. Lynx Hawthorne - 6-1, 185 - 3-star (141st ranked WR)
3. Kaleb Moore - 5-11, 185 - 2-star (Not Ranked)
2013 Recruits Offered:
1. Kyle Fulks - 5-8, 155 - 3-star (58th ranked WR) COMMIT
2. Quan Jones - 6-4, 185 - 3-star (73rd ranked WR) COMMIT
3. Robbie Rhodes - 6-1, 190 - 4-star (7th ranked WR)
4. Ricky Seals-Jones - 6-5, 215 - 5-star (2nd ranked WR)
5. Ra'Shad Samples - 5-10, 170 - 4-star (18th ranked WR)