There’s little question the Baylor Bears have shown major improvements on the field since Art Briles took over as head coach prior to the 2008 season. If you’re in need of any evidence, look no further than last year’s 10 win season that also included the school’s first ever Heisman trophy winner.
Winning 10 games in Waco? A Heisman trophy on the mantle in Baylor’s football complex? Those achievements were considered blasphemy just a few short seasons ago.
And if you think last’s year accomplishments were nothing more than a flash in the pan, better think again.
The lifeblood of any successful college football program is recruiting and if you put any stock at all into recruiting rankings, some of the nations best high school football players are taking notice of what’s happening in Waco.
Three of the nation’s recruiting services currently have the Bears ranked in their top 25 classes in country. Rivals ranks the Bears 22nd overall. Scout has them sitting at 19th while 247Sports has them sitting as high as 14th. They trail only Texas and Oklahoma within the Big 12.
In the past two weeks alone, Baylor has added four more commitments which included Robbie Rhoads, a four-star wide receiver that is considered one of the best in the state of Texas if not the country. Rhoads list of offers included such schools as Alabama, Texas A&M and get this, Texas. It’s not often Baylor wins a recruiting battle for an instate kid such as Rhoads. Usually when Texas offers a kid in Texas, it’s over. That may still be the case in most situations, but Baylor – yes Baylor – is now giving kids another solid option to at least stop and consider.
Baylor’s list of commitments also included 6’5″ quarterback, Chris Johnson, who Scout ranks as one of the top dual threat quarterbacks in the country. He watched Robert Griffin thrive in Briles’ offense and now plans on becoming a Bear himself.
Briles gave Griffin the ability to thrive in Waco and Johnson believes that Briles will afford him the same opportunity for success.
It’s obvious that Baylor has the offense humming right along under Briles, but if they truly want to find a permanent place among college football’s best team, improving on defense is a must, a fact that’s not lost in Baylor’s recruiting efforts.
Among the 13 current commitments, nine are on defense. Three of those are defensive backs, two are defensive ends, and four play linebacker including Wednesday’s most recent commit, Fort Worth linebacker Xavier Phillips.
Phillips is a solid linebacker in his own right, but he turned down some of the top academic colleges in the country in order to stay closer to home and play for the Bears. His offer list included, Northwestern, Georgia Tech, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Penn, Princeton, Harvard, and Yale. Impressive to say the least.
National signing day is over seven months away and a lot can change between now and then. The early results, however, indicate that Baylor isn’t planning on taking a back seat to anyone in the Big 12 not only on the field, but also on the recruiting trail.