The Christmas of Recruiting: Signing Day

After months of waiting, signing day 2006 is finally here. Fans, that's diehard fans, have been following recruiting closely throughout the summer, fall, and winter – and all the worrying, discussing, reading and watching finally comes to an end.

For Baylor fans, after seeing tangible improvement on the field (finishing one game short of a bowl including two overtime losses to Big XII South opponents Oklahoma and Texas A&M), recruiting brought another opportunity to see an improvement in the football program. As always, this year's class is comprised of big time recruits coveted by conference opponents and sleeper recruits who the Bears hope can bring them even more success in the Big XII.

The quarterback position is always a source of interest for fans of college football, especially when you have just sat through a season that saw a mid-season quarterback change that did not result in improvement. Baylor fans are of course excited to see what redshirt freshman Blake Szymanski can do on the field and whether he will compete with incumbent Shawn Bell for the starting gig – but they're equally excited to see if any true freshman will be added to the fight.

A few names could presumably challenge in the years to come (starting a true freshman quarterback is a rarity in college football) – such as the first QB recruit Tyler Beatty out of Pflugerville. Recruiting expert Randy Rodgers, on a recruiting special on Fox Sports Network, recently called Beatty the sleeper of the entire QB class in the state of Texas. He mentioned not only his arm, but also his surprising speed. Anyone that has seen Beatty knows he has the body to be a successful quarterback – and Baylor fans are certainly hopeful that he turns out to be the full package.

A few other names of players expected to sign are Jeremy Sanders and Brad Taylor – both dual-threat quarterbacks who have been told they will be given their fair shot at quarterback. Sanders, who is ranked as the #26 ranked safety in the nation by, is given high praise by his high school coach, who said Jeremy is a "once in a lifetime" type player. Assuming Jeremy does indeed stay with his commitment and signs today, Baylor fans will surely be happy with his performance down the line.

In Baylor's 4-2-5 defense, the recruitment of defensive backs is always key. This year Baylor secured the commitment of the #39 ranked corner back in the nation in Dominique Criss. Criss was offered a greyshirt by the University of Texas, but ultimately chose Baylor as his place to play college football. Although it remains to be seen whether Criss will redshirt his freshman year, he will ultimately provide nice depth and likely a good starter on a defense that thrives on a solid secondary.

Special focus will be on the wide receivers in the offense to be installed by new Offensive Coordinator Lee Hays. The Bears have several to choose from this year with guys that played exclusively at the position at the high school level and others that might eventually end up there after position changes. A couple of names to watch for are New Orleans native Ernest Smith and local product James "Garfield" Hicks. Both guys excelled their senior years in high school, and both might be asked to step up quickly in either their freshman or redshirt freshman years. The Bears will lose two quality, starting wideouts after next season – and these guys will be part of the group with a shot to take their spot.

There are many other quality players in this class, and for a full list of Baylor's commit list, please follow the link on the front page of Also, be sure to check in to the message boards to find out if all expected players did indeed sign on the dotted line.

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