After naming the most interesting player for defense, it is time to turn the table and look at the offense. With Seth Russell, Shock Linwood, KD Cannon and Johnny Jefferson leading the way, the Bears have some of the best skill players in the Big 12. With an elite quarterback returning in Russell, and one of the most talented and deepest group of running backs in the nation, the Bears 4th string running back is the choice for most interesting.
JaMycal Hasty, a 4-star recruit from the 2015 class, brings a combination of size and agility to the Bears that has been missing for the past few seasons. At 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, Hasty was a star in high school. He ran for 1,420 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior. After missing 9 games in his senior season with a back injury, he still was able to make an impact for Longview High School with 239 yards from scrimmage and 12.6 yards per touch.
Hasty was the 6th commit for the Bears in the 2015 signing class, committing in late march. He chose the Bears over Oregon, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Houston and many more. His commitment to Art Briles and staff was long in the making, as the Bears were considered his leader for a while. Being use as a running back and returner, he envisioned a role similar to Percy Harvin at Missouri or DeAnthony Thomas at Oregon.
Hasty is a true weapon in the open field, able to impact the game as a running back, a receiver, and on returns. He has pure breakaway speed and elite elusiveness that the Bears have been missing in the backfield since Lache Seastrunk graduated. However, where he might make the most impact this year is at slot receiver, where Baylor is lacking some depth. From Gabe Brooks on Hasty's commitment to Baylor:
Hasty is a bona fide speedster. He has run multiple verified sub-4.5 40-yard dashes, including a 4.49 at last April's Nike Football Training Camp in Allen and his laser-timed 4.39 at the East Texas Sports Network Recruiting Combine in Tyler last May. Hasty recorded vertical leaps of 35.3 inches and 39.0 inches, respectively, at those events.
Hasty hits the hole fast and hard. He possesses great feet, which help his exceptional cutback ability. While he is on the small side, Hasty does not shy from contact between the tackles. He's a ball of solid muscle who is physical when he needs to be.
Chris Platt and Lynx Hawthorne are slated to start at the two inside spots currently. As a redshirt freshman last year, Platt caught just 11 passes for 155 yards and 1 touchdown. The sophomore is one of the fastest players on the team, with elite straight ahead speed. He is expected to play a big role for the Bears this year as a deep threat, and also as the top kick returner.
Hawthorne, going into his senior season, has 26 career catches and 3 touchdowns. Lynx is a steady presence for the Bears, and fits a lot of roles himself, including emergency quarterback. The Bears primary punt returner last year, Hawthorne isn't a big play threat at inside receiver or punt returner.
Behind them on the depth chart is Blake Lynch, another redshirt freshman (and someone that almost made the most interesting for his size and ability with the ball. Look for a wildcat role in his future). Lynch is listed as a co-starter with Platt currently, but is also the backup to Hawthorne. Outside of those three, there is a gaping hole for depth.
With Baylor utilizing a 4-man receiver look quite often, they have always rotated receivers in and out frequently. With little depth on the inside, one option is to go to a 1 or 2 tight end look more often. Well, depth is also a concern there with just 3 scholarship players, including a former defensive tackle in Josh Malin.
Hasty is a player that could help relieve those concerns, and it is another way to get him on the field with three running backs ahead of him on the depth chart in Linwood, Jefferson and Terence Williams.
Hasty should fit in well with the Baylor offensive scheme. He is a featured back in high school, but could be a different style of featured back in college.
He may fit in well in the Baylor offense as a 'slot-back'. You could use him in a variety of ways. Moving around from the backfield to the slot position, creating mismatches with his speed.
He has a combo of skills, he can gash defenses for big gains, but he also runs good routes and has good hands, so that will make him a likely weapon in the passing game.
Hasty's high school coach, John King, also called Hasty "an excellent receiver out of the backfield, and he can run good routes as a slot."
With the running back ahead of him, getting more than 5-10 snaps per game at running back will be difficult. However, if you had in another 15-20 snaps at wide receiver, you are starting to see a real role for a valuable play maker. In addition, Hasty is listed as the top option for kick returner, something that he profiles to excel at. The Bears have struggled to have a game breaker at kick returner the past few season, something that is astonishing given their skill and speed level on both sides of the ball. Hasty could be a long term answer to that as he moves up the running back depth chart.
Hasty's ceiling is probably a role similar to what KaVontae Turpin filled for the TCU Horned Frogs last year. Turpin is the same height at 5-foot-9, but weighed under 170 pounds. He probably has more pure straight line speed than Hasty, but their games are similar. Turpin is also more of a receiver than running back, but still caught 45 balls for 649 yards (14.4 average), 8 touchdowns and added in 20 rushing attempts for 116 yards (5.8 average). He also averaged 27 yards per kick return and 10.6 yards per punt return on 27 kicks and 17 punts.
For Hasty, the catches might be lower, and the carries will be much higher, but that type of all-around impact at 3 positions;running back, receiver, and returner; is the type of thing that makes him the choice for most interesting.