Baylor Nation Did Not Disappoint
I am continually amazed out how the Baylor fan base continues to grow, and continues to show it's support for this football team. I took my 3 yr old with me (I'm a little crazy, I know), and we got to the athletic facility around 10 am. When we walked up, I was surprised to see the stands were already full of people. I can't say that I have seen that before. People were already lining the boundary flags that they had separating the stands from the field. It was amazing. On the inside of the indoor facility, they had a small setup for the bookstore, and a few inflatables for the kiddos. That area was already pretty overrun with kids and their parents. There were definitely a few thousand people there, and likely more than there were last year. As one of our posters pointed at in his thread post, it seems that Baylor is starting to attract the Waco locals and bringing them on the bandwagon. There were several hundreds of Wacoans there taking in the festivities. Regardless what their ties are to Baylor, I am gad to finally see my hometown embrace Baylor and be a part of something that is amazing right now.
Kaz Kazadi Is A Bad, Bad Man
As I walked around the field before the scrimmage, on Saturday, I couldn't help but notice how big the Freshmen players had gotten in just the 2 months they have been on campus. JaMycal Hasty looks like a MAN. Jarrett Stidham looks like he is a Junior. That kid has a great frame. The freshmen WRs looked the part. The defensive guys looked great as well. Most believe that when you recruit a more elite type of player, that their build and frame are much more noticeable than kids that you may have to develop. Well I can say that I absolutely believe that. If any of you have seen the picture we posted of 2017 commit Baron Browning, you will understand what I'm talking about. I think it is just a completely different type of player. Now don't get me wrong, Baylor got to where they are because they developed their kids and these kids believed in what Kazadi was preaching. Just imagine now what Kazadi has to work with in these kids that come in to the program already looking like Sophomores and he has a completely different canvas to work with.
Baylor Hosts Major Talent On Saturday
I know, I know, you want to hear about Anthony Hines . Well I will get to him in a second. What I did want to talk about was the few uncommitted recruits that made it out to Baylor on Saturday. As we posted on the board, 2017 Houston OL Austin Deculus, 2017 QB Commit Kellen Mond, and 2017 DE K'Lavon Chaisson were at Baylor on Friday. Well on Saturday, the Bears hosted two big time 2016 DE prospects in Trophy Club (TX) Byron Nelson HS DE Brandon Bowen and Hope (AR) HS DE McTelvin Agim . I can't tell you how big it is to get these two on campus. Both have mentioned that they would like to make their decision before the start of the season. From sources we have spoken to, it seems that Baylor is the leader right now for Bowen. Bowen is very quiet when it comes to recruiting, so it's difficult to determine where his mind is at, but we believe that he could be leaning towards the Bears. If so, this would be a huge pickup for Baylor at a need position.
With regards to Agim, word on the street is that it is between Baylor and Arkansas for his services. He is getting a lot of pressure to stay home, so this will be a dog fight for him. He glows about the coaching staff and the way that they have handled his recruitment. He has a great relationship with Coach Achuff, and the fact that he drove in from Arkansas to take in this event, says a ton about his feelings for the Bears. As stated before, Agim has stated that he could make his decision before his season begins, especially because there has been some talk that he could graduate early. In any event, Baylor should feel good about where they stand.
He Didn't Come? Should We Be Worried?
Someone on twitter posed this question to me: "If Anthony Hines didn't show up, does that mean we should be worried?" First off, I can tell you NO, Baylor doesn't need to be worried. What we have learned about Anthony, is that he likes to surprise people when he does something. He doesn't post a ton on twitter before he does something. Everyone generally finds out after he's done it. It doesn't mean he has character issues or anything like that, it's actually quite the opposite. Hines comes from a great family and has a very mature head on his shoulders. Many believed that he would be committing to Baylor this week, but that obviously changed. Our own Ashton Warren was speaking to him as late as Friday evening and then he went dark on us. I was told that he did the same to our colleagues as well. I don't think that is a bad sign against Baylor, it's just the way he handles it, and to each his own.
Now what does this really mean for Baylor? Well first off, I think it means that the Stanford offer made him step back and maybe slow things down a little. Stanford offers are a big deal for some recruits. Especially those that are big on academics, which Hines is. Honestly, if my kid were in the same position and he was offered a full ride scholarship to Stanford, I would certainly tell him to consider it. So I think this may have led him to tap the breaks a little. Secondly, I still think that Baylor is in a great position here. You'll remember that he came down to visit with Baron Browning a couple of weeks ago. Well as we know, Browning committed a few days later, and he quickly took to Twitter and said that he would be joined by Hines. (it was later deleted). Hines and Browning are the consensus #1 OLB/MLBs in their class, and their friendship is such that they would certainly like to play together. This is the key factor to this thing honestly. If Browning can stay in his ear, and the lure of a Stanford or USC offer doesn't make a huge enough impression on him, I think he will end up being a Bear. Obviously along with Stanford or USC (both which are private schools), Texas and Malik Jefferson will certainly play some role in this as well. How strong a role remains to be seen, but as much as you hate to say it, you can never discount them.
Is It Panic Time For Seth Russell?
Let me take you on a ride in to the past. If you'll remember, a young lad by the name of Bryce Petty was ready to take the reigns of a young offense that was looking for it's identity. On the other side of that line was a veteran defense that really took it to the Baylor offense during fall camp. Many believed that Petty wasn't ready because the offense as a whole looked out of sync during the open scrimmage. Could our defense carry the load while the offense found an identity? Well If you will move to early December and remember the frigid cold game against Texas, which Baylor won 30-10, you will remember that it was that young offense that found their identity and rode the back of a veteran defense to their first ever Big 12 Championship. Ok, so that was a long ride, but you get my point. Russell will be fine. He has a veteran defense that is likely much, much better than the 2013 defense, and a veteran OL and veteran skill position players on an offense that should average over 40 points a game again.
I'll expand on this a little in a second, but I think what you saw is the maturity and growth of the Baylor secondary. They are a year older, they have a new eccentric coach, in Coach Dishmann, and they believe they are good enough to slow down any offense that they are in front of. I think this had more to do with Russell and the other Baylor QBs having trouble yesterday, more than anything. Also, it is worth it to note that KD Cannon, Corey Coleman, and Jay Lee were held out. KD has a mild hip flexor strain which shouldn't be something that lingers once it heals. Point is, Baylor doesn't need Russell to be GREAT. They just need him to be good. Get the ball to your playmakers and let them work. Whether its the run game, short/intermediate pass game, or the deep ball. Just make the right read, which Briles and son will certainly help him with, and let your guys do the work. As they get closer to game time, yesterday will be less and less of an issue or worry. One thing though, Devin Chafin, Blake Lynch, and Davion Hall could be playmakers this year. Watch out for them.
Will Our Secondary Be A Liability
This is a difficult question, but I'm going to say no. Honestly I think they could be much improved from last year. The WR's, during yesterdays scrimmage, had trouble finding open spots in the secondary and I think that was a huge testament to these players and the coaches. As Coach Briles said in his post-practice comments, "these guys are having to fight to get open." When was the last time you heard that about our secondary. Now lets take a step back here. As I state earlier, the defense is the veteran group of this team. While the offense does have a bunch of veterans, there is a new QB back there. He is having to learn and build a connection with his receivers. So obviously we should expect the defense to be the strong group right now. But I do believe it is important that we are actually seeing the improvement of this secondary. And the scary thing is they are still young. Many of them are RSSO or RSJR. Scary. Ryan Reid will be a star in this group, as will Xavion Howard. But what you will see is a secondary that has a strong 2-deep, and might even be able to thrown in 1 or 2 more in the rotation.