Joe Williams, K. J. Morton and Demetri Goodson. Those three Baylor Bears had 64 career starts, including 24 between them last year. That is a lot of experience the Baylor coaching staff has depended on the past few seasons. This year, the Bears do not have a single cornerback with a career start under their belt. With those three seniors gone, a new group of Bears will have to step up and earn their stripes.
CURRENT STARTERS – 6
|5 career tackles||Forced fumble against Kansas||5 tkls, 1 int, 1 FF||Junior College transfer|
To say that the group of cornerbacks the Bears are choosing from for 2014 are untested would be a vast understatement. The starter at one spot is a safety who has limited playing time last year on special teams. The other starter was the 4th cornerback last year, but did get solid playing time in every game. The third guy only played on special teams, and the fourth prospect is a junior college transfer.
So, yes, the Bears experience at the corner spot is lacking. They lost two guys that started for 3 seasons, and another who was a starter for the games he was healthy for. Right now, Terrence Singleton and Xavien Howard are the listed starters, but transfers Chris Sanders and even Tion Wright could push themselves up the depth chart in the fall. Singleton is listed as a safety on the roster, and could still find his way there (or even the nickel back role possibly???), so there are still some decisions to be made.
POSITIONAL DEPTH - 8
The Bears have 8 players on scholarship at the cornerback position, with only three of them older than a sophomore. While it is unproven depth, the Bears brought in some very athletic players the past 2 recruiting classes to bolster their defensive backfield. Tion Wright and Chris Sanders are proven junior college players that should give the Bears a bit more experience, along with Xavien Howard.
With three guys listed at starter, the Bears have good options in case of injury, and that doesn't even include one of the best corners in Junior College last year in Tion Wright. The Bears have options all over the bench, which should also help their special teams units.
CLASS BALANCE – 7
With just two seniors, the rest of this class is pretty spread out. They have good recruits coming in for this fall as well as two highly coveted corners in the 2015 class. They are a bit heavy in the sophomore class, but outside of that, have good representation with upper-classmen and younger players.
NEXT YEAR – 7
With just 2 seniors on the roster, the Bears dears defensive backs should grow and develop into a very formidable unit in the near future, and especially as early as next season. All four of the players on the two-deep will have eligibility next season, and a year of experience will help this group out tremendously. This is a safe bet for next years grade, but this could easily go higher with proven results on top of the players they could have returning.
FUTURE YEARS – 4
The Bears are setup great for 2015, but probably set up even better for the long-term. With 5 players on the roster that are sophomores or younger, and two very solid commitments for the 2015 recruiting class in Jordan Tolbert and John Humphrey, the Bears are setup very well at the corner back position.
Verkedric Vaughns is not yet on campus, but could play a large role this year with a great fall camp. He is a true cornerback, and one that has played the position in high school, a rarity for most recruits. Baylor seems to have gone after larger corners in the 2015 class, and have two bigger ones in the 5-foot-11 Tolbert and the 6-foot tall Humphrey. With another spot open in the 2015 class, the Bears could secure another building block for the future as well.
In the pass happy Big 12, if you don't have capable cornerbacks, you are going to struggle to win. You have to be able to put those guys out on an island, and let them go at their man one-on-one. The Bears have put an emphasis on the cornerback position, either getting guys that have played the position successfully in high school (Vaughns, Howard, Reid) or taking tremendous athletes that play elsewhere on the field and moving them to corner (Singleton, Sanders, Humphrey). This is a key spot on the defense, and one that will be even more important in the years moving forward.
TOTAL – 36
While the Bears will be looking to replace their top 3 guys at corner from 2013, the expectations for this group are high. Coach Art Briles has been signing the praises of corner Xavien Howard all spring, and Terrence Singleton has finally found his health, and a good spot for him. Chris Sanders and Tion Wright are looking to make an impact at the Division 1 level for the first time, and the Bears are recruiting the position well in the 2014 and 2015 class. This is an exciting position for the future, and one that could produce a star player in the next year or so.