1. Another first Wednesday in February is done. If that doesn't mean anything to you, it means you are not a football recruiting junky. That is probably a better life choice in the long run, as your emotions and mood are not dictated by the whims of 17 year olds. The Bears secured 18 signings today, to go along with the 4-members of this class already on campus. All 18 of those were expected, and there were no late losses to speak of. In fact, the day was pretty much done by 9:30, in terms of the bulk of the class.
It started with Kameron Martin, the 2nd commitment of the 2016 class, and the leader of the pack. Of course it started with Martin, the explosive running back who fits the Bears offense perfectly. The first big question mark was Patrick Hudson, who sent his LOI before 9am, much to the chagrin of some burnt orange clad fans south of Waco. The fax machine was humming, with papers coming in from all over the state. The Bears signed 9 offensive players and 13 defensive players. The lines were a big focus in the class, with 3 on the offensive side and 5 on the defensive side. Baylor also focused on the defensive backfield, with 4 cornerbacks and 2 safeties. They also had a big class for wide receivers, bringing in possibly the best recruiting haul of any team at the wide receiver position.
2. With the extreme losses on both lines, the Bears went after linemen hard in the 2016 class. Offensively, they couldn't have asked for a better duo from the high school ranks. Patrick Hudson is one of the strongest players in the class, and profiles to be an elite guard or tackle. He has incredible upside and is on the fringes of being a 5-star caliber recuit. JP Urquidez is a natural tackle prospect and another 4-star commit. With these two in the pipeline, along with immediate help of 4-star Branton Autry at guard for 2016, the Bears offensive line should not take a step back in the long-term.
Defensively, the Bears hit on a few top-tier targets in Bravvion Roy and Brandon Bowen. This was a loaded defensive linemen class, and the Bears went aggresive on many of them. Jordan Elliott was one of the first commits for this class, before he decommitted and went on a tour of the US on a commitment spree. Baylor received visits from Marcell Southell, Ed Oliver, and Chris Daniels and many more. They missed out on most of those, but hit on Roy, who is a top-20 defensive tackle prospect this year (I would put him closer to the Top-10 in a normal year, but this class was loaded). Roy has the strength and size to play right away, in more of an Andrew Billings type roll. For those that don't remember, Billings avoided a redshirt and played as a minimal reserve for the first half of the year before forcing himself of the depth chart and being a key reserve by the end of his first season. Roy could do similar, even with two junior college tackles that are expected to contribute quickly in this class.
The other marquee defensive linemen is Brandon Bowen, a 4-star defensive end. The 130th recruit in the nation, Bowen is the Bears 4th best recruit and top one on the defensive side of the ball. An elite athlete with great size, Bowen has the frame to add quite a bit of bulk and profiles as an exceptional pass rusher.
3. Speaking of freak athletes, the Bears focused on that again in this class. Kameron Martin, Brandon Bowen, Grayland Arnold, Donovan and Devin Duvernay, the Bears secured the signings of some of the best athetes in the state. Art Briles said it himself. Patrick Hudson is the strongest guy in this class. Devin Duvernay is the fastest player that Briles has ever signed, which thinking about, is absolutely insane. With four receivers and 6 defensive backs, the athletes are in bulk. With the defensive secondary being a problem spot for the Bears, they brought in four cornerbacks, led by 4-star Patrick Cobb, who could play next year for the Bears.
However, the long term prospects of Arnold, Raleigh Texada and sleeper Rajah Preciado are all very promising. Arnold is a sensational athlete, transitioning from being a high school quarterback for the Bears. Texada is one of the more natural corners in the state, and if he was a step faster of an inch or two taller, would be a 4 or 5 star recruit based on his technique and results. Preciado is a sleeper in the truest sense, showcasing strongly in summer camps. These four should help restock the Bears cornerback depth in the longrun, and maybe even make an impact in 2016.
4. The one thing that stood out to me in this class was the loyalty displayed by the commits. Baylor started receiving commitments over 18 months ago, and only had 3 decommitments in Jordan Elliott, KeShawn Somerville and Tren'Davian Dickson. Elliott committed to pretty much every school in the nation, before signing with Texas today. Somerville committed to TCU in December after a summer commitment to the Bears on June 8th. Dickson of course flipped from the Bears to Texas and back to Baylor. The rest of the class was firm, even with commitments going back to June 2014, in the case of quarterback Zach Smith.
A few key players took visits late, such as Patrick Arnold to Texas, but none ever were serious threats to flip (no matter what other schools were reporting). This class was sold on Baylor. They were sold on back-to-back Big 12 titles, and were sold on the future of the Baylor program under Art Briles and his staff.
5. In the end, the Bears got the 18 signatures that they expected which makes this a good day. However, it wasn't a great day as Baylor missed out on all of the last minute pledges they went into Wednesday hoping for. Brandon Jones chose Texas, Malcolm Pridgeon chose Ohio State, and Quinn Nordin chose Michigan. They were 0-3 on the last minute presents on recruiting christmas day. It isn't the end of the world though. This is still a Top-20 class, with maybe another name or two emerging in the next few weeks from the junior college or late qualifer ranks. Remember, Xavien Howard didn't sign on this day a few years ago, instead signing a few weeks later once he was qualified. Now Howard is off to the NFL draft after his junior campaign, a true success story of talent evaluation, development and coaching. That still can beat any type of results, even on a day like today.