After analyzing the depth and scholarship situations at defensive line and offensive line earlier this offseason, it is time to turn our attention to a happier position. The Bears have experienced starters, good depth, and intriguing options all along their defensive backfield. This also happens to be the only position the Bears have commitments for the 2017 recruiting class.
With the loss of junior All-Big 12 corner Xavien Howard to the NFL, where he was a second round pick of the Miami Dolphins, the Bears will need to lean on 2-year starter Ryan Reid to be their top corner. Reid has developed nicely the past few seasons, struggling mightily in his sophomore campaign (like the 3rd quarter against TCU), but coming up with huge plays at needed times (the 4th down batted pass against TCU). The senior will be looked at to cover the opponents top receiver, usually in isolation. This allows the Bears to use safeties in the running game, and rotate help to the other side of the field.
The big question this year will be who starts opposite Reid, with redshirt freshman Jameson Houston getting the top spot after spring camp. The former 3-star corner looks an awful lot like Xavien Howard, with similar size and speed. Houston has the look of an NFL corner, and is the favorite to earn the start against Northwestern State on September 2nd. However, senior Tion Wright brings starting experience to the spot, after filling in quite a bit last year.
The biggest news though is of the two true freshmen, Grayland Arnold and Raleigh Texada. These are two of the best corner prospects the Bears have signed in the past 15-20 years. Texada is the younger brother of TCU star corner Ranthony Texada, and is a technician at the corner position. Arnold was one of the best, if not the best, athlete in the state in 2016. Both are incredibly athletic, fast and agile with All-Conference upside.
For 2017, the Bears also have the commitment of Noah Daniels, a 3-star corner out of Clear Creek High School. He has a great frame at 6-feet tall, and flashes top end speed with a verified 4.51 40-yard dash.
The Bears best overall defensive back can be found at safety in Orion Stewart, a two-time All-Big 12 safety. Stewart battled injuries last year, but still totaled 64 tackles, one sack and one interception. He is one of the better safeties in the Big 12, and a big-time playmaker for the Bears at the Deep Safety position.
Alongside him will be one of Taion Sells and Chance Waz, who both played quite a bit last year in a reserve and even starting role at times. Waz is the favorite to earn the job, and would bring another cover option to the Baylor secondary. The most intriguing option though is former wide receiver Davion Hall, who is in his first season at safety. The former 4-star athlete, Hall has been making plays all offseason in his new role. He is a natural safety, and could make a very large impact the next two years.
The Bears also have Jourdan Blake, who has rotated between corner and safety in his two years on campus, along with redshirt freshman Henry Blake and freshman Rajah Preciado. All three could plays anywhere in the defensive secondary, giving the Bears options at either safety spot or corner back.
The Bears other 2017 commit is Jalen Pitre, a 3-star safety from Stafford High School. Pitre is a ball-hawking safety with good coverage skills. He is recovering from an injured knee in 2015, and is not all the way back yet, though he performed well in 7-on-7 camps this summer.