The Baylor Bears were on pace to have one of the worst defenses in the history of college football through the first seven games in 2012. They turned things around down the stretch, playing much better as the Bears closed out the season winning five of their last six games (though they still finished No. 110 in scoring defense), including a 52-24 upset of the then No. 1 Kansas State Wildcats. In 2013, they’ll look to avoid being so terrible from the start, and that turnaround will start with their defensive ends.
Last season, the defensive line as a whole was a glaring weakness for Baylor. Terrence Lloyd and Chris McAllister looked overmatched at times during their junior season, unable to keep up with the speed and tempo of the high-flying Big 12 offenses. They turned up their level of play down the stretch (along with the rest of the defense), however, and are penciled in as the starters again for their senior seasons in 2013.
The big difference this year is that they’re going to have some help. Javonte Magee and Jamal Palmer are both in line to see expanded roles next season after seeing a little bit of playing time as true freshmen in 2012. They’ll be joined by redshirt freshman Shawn Oakman to give Baylor it’s most talented group of defensive ends in recent memory.
Magee and Oakman both came to Waco as highly touted recruits who are the complete package of strength, size and speed which the Bears have not had the luxury of in what seems like forever. They will bring a physical presence to the defensive line that will make the Bears more formidable in pass-rushing situations and help them set the edge against the run.
While the young studs at defensive end still have a lot to learn about being every-down defensive ends in the Big 12, their presence in a rotation will improve Baylor’s line by a mile next fall. If the Bears’ defense can hold teams in check like they were down the stretch in 2012, Baylor is going to have plenty to say in who ends up winning the Big 12 conference title.