With one of the best defensive lines in the Big 12, and possibly the country, the Bears have built a strong foundation in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Usually, the pass rushers get all of the accolades and press, but the strength of a strong defensive line usually starts in the middle with the tackles. Baylor has a true star anchoring the middle of the defense in Andrew Billings, and then a strong cast of experienced players all around him. With 3 seniors on the roster, and Billings possibly being an early entry draft candidate, the Bears will take at least 2 defensive tackles in this class, and as many as 4.
With the Bears staff choosing not to focus on defensive tackles in the 2015 class, they are putting all of their eggs in the 2016 class. Luckily for them, it is one of the best defensive tackle classes in recent history. With 5 Baylor offers out to Scout-300 players, the Bears are going after some of the best prospects in the nation.
The Top Tier Guys
All five of the names listed above are Top 150 players in the nation. Elliott is a former Baylor commit who saw his recruitment explode with a bevy of offers after he pledged to the Bears. He has since reopened his recruitment, and has stated that the USC Trojans are his leader. However, the Baylor staff has not given up on the 82nd ranked prospect in the SCOUT 100, and are still in the race, especially if he decides he wants to stay in Texas.
Ed Oliver is the top-ranked player on this list, and has offers from just about all of the heavy hitters. He recently stated a top-2 of LSU and Houston, but there is still a long way to go. The goal for Baylor will be to get the 5-star tackle on campus for a visit and hope they can be the "closer to home" option he might covet. Fellow 5-star Kendell Jones is another one that the Bears appear to be a bit behind with. Texas appears to be the leader as of now, but he has not publicly given a list. He plans on breaking down his list this Summer and announcing a Top-10.
The next two recruits on this list have both stated that Baylor is at least one of their leaders. Bravvion Roy declared the Bears and Missouri as his top-2 schools, and the Baylor coaching staff has made him a priority by sending pretty much their ENTIRE staff down to see him this spring. Honestly, I think Roy will be a Bear, and a tremendous piece to the future of the defensive line. Finally, Euless Trinity tackle Chris Daniels also has the Bears at the top of his list, with TCU also in the mix. The 4-star tackle did add a Michigan offer, as the Wolverines have made a big push into Texas.
If the Bears can come away with at least one of these elite guys, they will be in a solid position moving forward. However, it is very much in play that two or even as many as three of these guys could end up as Bears. That would be a grand slam win for the Bears, and something that could setup their defensive line for the next 3-4 years.
The Next Group
We find two of the more recent offers for the Baylor staff in this section, with Panasiuk being offered this week. Southall has been one of the highest risers in the nation the last month or so, adding offers from Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Mississippi State, Illinois, Texas, Missouri and of course Baylor the past 2 weeks. There will be more names added to this section as the Bears miss out on the elite guys they are attacking, but either of these two players would be a great get. Panasiuk is a 4-star with offers from most Big 10 schools, while Southall has the offer list of a 4-star, but is still waiting on being ranked by the Scout staff.
Junior College Targets
The Names - Handsome Tanielu
The Bears have offered quite a few junior college defensive ends, but are still waiting to pull the trigger on a more expereinced tackle. If they were to do so, Tanielu would likely be the place to start. Outside of having the best name imaginable, the 3-star tackle would give the Bears some much needed experience and allow them to take their time on redshirt freshmen Andrew Morris and Ira Lewis. Also, the Bears have traditionally used later Juco offers (starting in December) as a way to fill in gaps of the class and get some more experience, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
The loss of Jordan Elliott was a hard blow for this class to take, but luckily it comes in a historically great year for defensive tackles in the state of Texas. With Elliott not being completely out of the picture with the Bears, this could still be a monster recruiting class for the big guys who do the dirty work and sometimes don't get the press that they should.