Every recruiting class has a story. In the past, the story of Baylor football recruiting has been one that was told heavily in December, January and February. It was a story filled in around the edges at the last minute, with what most recruiting experts would call reaches. This is not to insult or demean any of those late in the recruiting cycle players, as we have seen great success with a few of those guys. This is to simply point out the changes in what the recruiting cycle now looks for the Baylor program, and what it could mean.
2011 was the first class Baylor had after its first bowl game under Art Briles. That class had four players commit to the Bears after February hit. Three of those four have been multi-year starters in cornerbacks K. J. Morton and Joe Williams along with punter Spencer Roth. The fourth was the highest rated of all of them in running back Jermichael Selders, but he never made it to campus. 2012 saw the Bears fill out the class with wide receiver Kaleb Moore and linebacker Shamycheal Chatman. Moore has played sparingly so far and isn't on the depth chart, while Chatman has since transferred out of Baylor.
2013 saw the commitment of one possible reach prospect in linebacker Taylor Young, but it is too soon to determine his fate. The other two players that committed after February hit; defensive tackle Andrew Billings and lineman Maurice Porter. One for two isn't too bad, as Billings played a large role this year as a true freshman and Porter did not make it onto campus.
This year though, this class has pretty much been done since early December. The Bears did get three junior college commits on December 16th, but those guys are already on campus and going to make an impact in the spring. Baylor's recruiting job was done much earlier this year. In fact, this class started to come together almost a year ago exactly, on February 2nd with the Bears first junior day when two of the highest rated players in a loaded class committed.
Terence Williams and Davion Hall told the Baylor coaches they would join their recruiting class, though both would not be fully done with the process. "I liked how I felt there with everybody and how I had a connection with all the coaches there. It felt like home," Williams said. The next day, Baylor received another commitment from Chris Platt, a speedster receiver. With three offensive players in the fold, it was a great start to a big recruiting class.
The next few months brought little action, with no commitments in March and just 1 in April; guard Devonte Jones, an under-recruited lineman from Bellaire, TX. But that was just the trickle of activity before the storm started.
From May 1st through June 10th, a mere 41 days, the Bears would receive commitments from 14 players, or roughly half of their entire recruiting class. Josh Pelzel would get it started, a 3-star guard from Rockdale, TX saying "I really love the campus and the staff over there." Next was tight end Jordan Feuerbacher who gave the Bears their 6th commit, who all happened to be offensive recruits. Xavier Jones, a rangy defensive end prospect, gets the honor of being the first defensive commit for the Bears, soon joined by Waco product Jamie Jacobs. In between them would be the Bears first offensive tackle commit in Patrick Lawrence. A rising wide receiver recruit would come out of nowhere to commit to the Bears next, with Ishmael Zamora giving his pledge to the Bears. Blake Mahon would also commit, giving them their second tight end commitment, and resulting in 9 of 11 going to the offensive side of the ball.
But the day before June hit, the Bears would fix that lopsided class, with 6 of the next 7 commitments destined to play for Phil Bennett and his staff. Safety Cordell Dorsey would start the barrage off, with T'Kevian Rock Well, Ira Lewis, Jourdan Blake, Andrew Morris and James David all committing as well. The lone offensive player to commit would be guard Blake Blackmar, possibly the Bears top lineman commitment in this class. With two 4-star commits in Blackmar and Rockwell, Baylor would have the core group of the top end of their class.
After that barrage of commitments, the Bears staff regrouped and tried to figure out how to best put the finishing touches on this class. They had 18 commitments and were holding a few spots open for some top prospects. One of those prospects was a junior college guard that could be asked to step into a large role right away in Jarell Broxton. The Bears then received the commitment of defensive tackle Josh Malin, a 6-foot-6, 240 pound piece of clay for the Bears to build into a defensive force.
The Bears defensive staff would add another project a few days later, this one in Greg Roberts, a defensive end/linebacker from Nacodoches, TX who could be asked to grey-shirt this year and come in as a member of the 2015 class.
One area that the Bears had a little trouble with at first of getting their top prospects was at the corner back position. They were involved in several high level players, and had the commitment of Chad Adams, before he changed his pledge to Arizona. With that spot back open, the Bears offered Verkedric Vaughns, who the Bears had been involved with for a long-time, but never extended him that offer.
The next commitment though, was a bigger one and one that the Bears staff waiting patiently to happen. Kd Cannon had shown interest in the Bears for months and months, and rumors were all over the place of him committing to the Bears. It didn't happen though until August 10th, where he ended his recruitment and chose the Bears over Texas Tech. The 4-star receiver finished the offensive side of the ball and gave the Bears the best group of Wide Receiver recruits in the nation.
Cannon would be the last commitment for the Bears for over four months. During that time, the Bears showed what they could do on the field by winning a Big 12 championship and putting themselves in a BCS game. It is strange to think that 23 of the Bears 27 commitments in this class pledged to the Bears before a single game had been played. Baylor was pretty much done with their 2014 class at that time, but would have four more names to add in December.
The first would be a flipped recruit from Nebraska in Chance Waz, a safety from Pflugerville, TX. The next Monday though, Baylor would get some immediate help for their defense with three junior college players that would sign a few days later in cornerbacks Chris Sanders and Tion Wright and linebacker Grant Campbell. In the end, the Bears would bring on four junior college players in the winter. In the end it is a class that will hopefully keep the Bears atop the Big 12 standings, and will allow them to build on their success with more time spent on the 2015 class as well.