Under Coach Briles, the Baylor Bears have grown from a three win team in the last year of the Guy Morriss era to a 10 win team last year behind their dynamic and explosive offense. While the main "stars" of the team were two highly recruited players in Robert Griffin III and Kendall Wright, contributors on both sides of the ball were not nearly as highly recruited.
The list comprised of 9 two-star recruits and 1 three-star recruit. Included in these 10 is one player that will be a starting player in the NFL in a few weeks, and 8 players that will be starting for Baylor this coming season. Needless to say, the success of Briles and his staff to go out and find these "diamonds in the rough" has been one of the big reasons for the improving records the past 2 years.
1. Terrance Williams – 2008 two-star WR (262nd)
The probable NFL draft pick next season comes in with over 100 catches in his career and 15 touchdowns. He might have also been on the receiving end of the biggest touchdown in Baylor history. The Biletnikoff award finalist looks to improve on his junior year, and crack the 1,000 yard barrier for the first time.
2. Cameron Kaufhold – 2008 two-star OL (138th)
A consistent performer and a 3-year started, you always seem to forget about Cameron Kaufhold. He comes into the 2012 season with 33 career starts, and has been a flexible lineman, playing on the left and right side capably. He started every game last year at Left Guard, and looks to start at Right Guard this year.
3. Tevin Reese – 2009 three-star WR (109th)
The only 3-star on the list, Reese was still not even deemed to be one of the best 100 recruits at his position. Everything he has done though has proved the pundits wrong. Coming in as a 160 pound freshman, Reese has been a 2-year major contributor entering his junior season. While he only caught 6 more passes in his second year with the Bears, he almost doubled his yardage and turned into a huge deep threat for RGIII to find.
4. Sam Holl – 2010 two-star S (157th)
Last season, Holl finished second on the team in tackles with 113. The sophomore also added 3 interceptions and going into his junior campaign, has a chance to be a 3-year starter for the Bears and a leader on the team.
5. Jared Salubi – 2008 two-star RB (120th)
6. Mike Hicks – 2009 two-star S (NR)
While Hicks has been maligned for his pass coverage (mostly by me), you cannot doubt that this 2-star has out-performed his recruiting status. With 13 career starts entering his senior campaign, Hicks is one of the leaders on this defense that Coaches Briles and Bennett are depending on. Hicks also had two of the biggest interceptions last year, sealing the game against TCU in the closing seconds, and another coming against Kansas to keep the big comeback going.
7. Jarod Monk – 2009 two-star QB (121st)
Coming to Baylor as a 240 pound high school quarterback, Monk will leave as a 275 pound tight end with a chance to play in the NFL. Not bad for the 121st ranked QB according to Scout. Monk has been a weapon in the wildcat formation and also on those lovely tight end streak patterns Briles loves to call-up when Baylor is in the red-zone.
8. Josh Gordon – 2009 two –star WR (224th)
Though he only impacted the Bears with one season of stellar play, it was one heck of a year. In his only year as a starter and regular player, Gordon totaled 42 catches for 714 yards and 7 touchdowns. He will also be in the record books for the longest touchdown catch in Baylor history, a 94-yard bubble screen. Gordon was also selected in the second round of the supplemental draft, due to his elite size and speed combination.
9. Tevin Elliott– 2009 two-star LB (54th)
The second player on this list that will not be in a Baylor uniform next season, Elliott provided the Bears with a much needed pass-rush the last two seasons. The part-time defensive end and standout special teams player in 2010 led the Bears in sacks with 5. Last season, he had an even bigger role, but despite only getting 3 sacks, he provided good pressure and hurries with more of a focus on him.
10. Bryce Hager – 2010 two-star LB (NR)
You can call this more of a projection, or a hopeful outcome, as with his performance so far, Hager should not be on this list. However, he is the starting middle linebacker as a sophomore and has the chance to be an excellent player.
That's the list. Agree or disagree, come join us inside BearsIllustrated.com to talk to our staff and members.