1. The Baylor Bears lost a huge commitment this weekend, when Baron Browning reopened his recruitment. I have written about this before, but this is a byproduct of the Bears improvement on the field and in the recruiting world. You will go through this type of craziness with some of the top-guys. See Trendavian Dickson last year. See Jordan Elliott last year.
Browning is the top-rated outside linebacker in the Scout rankings, a top-tier 4-star who could bea 5-star caliber recruit when it is all done. He is THAT good. Baylor will continue to recruit him hard, as they should. He is visiting Texas this weekend, and will likely look at TCU, Oklahoma and many others as well. The Bears are still in it with Browning, mainly due to the tremendous relationship Coach Bennett has built with the family (he coached Baron's father at TCU). There are over 11 months left till signing day, so a lot can change here.
2. Linebacker is a focus for the Bears in this class, with just 1 signee in the 2016 class. It is a good year for this position to be a focus, as it is strength in the state. Anthony Hines is a 5-star stud, a true difference maker at middle linebacker. You all should know about him, but what about the other players with offers? Kevin breaks it down for our members.
While we have seen tremendous classes on the offensive side of the ball for the Bears, we have seen just a player here or there that is a top-tier target. Before the 2016 clas, you have to go back to 2013 and Andrew Billings to find the last 4 or 5 defender to sign with the Bears. Blake Lynch was a 4-star safety in 2015, but he is a wide receiver at Baylor. Davion Hall was a 5-star receiver in 2014 and played there his first two years before an anticipated switch to safety this offseason.
2016 though could be a turning point. Jeremy Faulk, Brandon Bowen, Bravvion Roy and Parrish Cobb were all 4-star players, and all defenders. That is more 4-star defensive recruits in one class than Baylor has had combined under Art Briles. From 2008 to 2015, the Bears signed Ahmad Dixon (4-star, 2010), Javonte Magee (4-star, 2012), Aiavion Edwards (4-star, 2012), Austin Jupe (4-star, 2013) and Andrew Billings (4-star, 2013). Four in one year compared to five in 8 seasons. 2017 does not have a 4-star defensive recruit now, with the loss of Browning, but the potential is there to easily match the 2016 class.
3. The firepower continues to rack up on the offensive side of the ball. Commits Kellen Mond, Hezekiah Jones, Jhamon Ausbon and Kedrick James are all 4-stars, and all in the Top-300. From 2008 to 2015, the Bears signed fourteen 4 or 5 star recruits on the offensive side of the ball. In the 2016 class, they signed 5 such recruits. More are on the way for sure, with several 4-star offensive linemen looking at the Bears. The upside on this class might be limited by the numbers Baylor will bring on (expected to be 18-20), but the quality of this class could be the best in Baylor history. Even without Browning, the star potential is there for the Bears to make another huge impact to their roster, and bring in a higher level of recruit than the kind they won back-to-back Big 12 Titles with.
4. The Baylor basketball team had one major distinction from the rest of the Top-25 going for them up to Saturday. They didn't have a single bad loss. All of the teams they had last to were Top-25 at least, with many of them in the Top-10 at one point or another this year. The Texas A&M loss is starting to look worse with their awful play of late, and the Texas game was at home. Saturday night though, they suffered a bad loss, in terms of the opponent and the margin. An 18-point loss to Texas Tech on your home court easily qualifies for the bad category. Yes, the Red Raiders are playing great basketball right now. They upset Iowa State earlier in the week, and now are emergnig as a bubble team for the NCAA tournament.
Baylor's finishing stretch in Big 12 play is brutal with home games against Iowa State, Kansas and West Virginia to go along with road games to TCU, Oklahoma and Texas. Those are five ranked teams out of six games, including 3 games against Top-10 opponents. Two wins in their remaining games would be a solid end to the season, and would simply get the Bears to 9-9 in conference play. Anything better than that, and all Baylor fans should be estatic.
It all starts Tuesday night against an Iowa State team that they have owned the past few seasons, and a Cyclones program that has NEVER won in Waco. Now would not be a good time to break that stretch. A loss to Iowa State would be their 4th loss in 5-games, with a trip to Austin and a home date against Kansas on the schedule. Needless to say, that is not a good position to be in.
5. Saying that, the Bears are still firmly in the NCAA field. This loss probably pushed them down to a 7 or 8-seed. They have just one marquee win against a Top-25 caliber team, their win in Ames against Iowa State. More than likely, they need at least 1 or 2 more wins to firmly secure a spot to the NCAA tournament for a 3rd year in a row. They will have chances to get that big win of course, but also could be burying themselves in a big hole. If they close the year 1-5, they would be just 19-12, and squarely on the bubble with a record of 2-8 in their last 10 games. At that point, they would need to win at least 2 games in the Big 12 to really feel safe.
Without more than just 1 marquee win, the Bears will simply be able to say we beat the teams we should have beaten. Well, all but one at least.