I've talked on here before about how I take a very keen interest in Baylor recruiting. I try to find out as much information as possible by paying for all of the known (to me) paid sites, following the recruiting services on Twitter, and talking to as many people as I can about what's going on with respect to Baylor. I do it because for all college sports, recruiting is the lifeblood of a program. Today's recruits are tomorrow's players, and today's star recruits are more than likely tomorrow's stars.
I will admit that given my usually heightened level of attention to recruiting, the ongoing saga of Bo Wallace has me even more interested than normal. Probably because, despite the confidence I have shown recently in Nick Florence on this very blog, I am somewhat concerned about our recent quarterback recruiting, namely the almost total lack thereof, and the depth we will have at that position going into next year.
Before getting too deeply into that after the jump, however, I wanted to update everyone that Wallace is still scheduled for an official visit to Waco tomorrow (now today, Friday). It will have been the third stop in a whirlwind week that saw Wallace visit Indiana Wednesday (he was offered) and Mississippi State Thursday (he already holds an offer). (The "update" portion of that sentence was the visit to Mississippi State. Even as soon as Tuesday, that visit was not scheduled to occur. To make it happen he apparently had to leave the Indiana visit early, which may show the relative ranking of the two schools, and my guess is that MSU put on a full-court press after the Baylor/Texas visits were confirmed for this weekend.)
After he leaves Waco Saturday morning, he is scheduled to head south to Austin for an official visit at Texas, which will be his fourth this week and fifth overall (the first was Ole Miss in December). According to the Mississippi State 247Sports site, Wallace will return home to Mississippi on Sunday and announce his decision next Wednesday. Whether that is somehow tied to Robert Griffin III's rumored announcement on Tuesday or simply a coincidence is anyone's guess.
I'm not going to write out a long, detailed post about why I think Bo Wallace should choose Baylor University over his other suitors. To do so would imply that I think he would read it, which is laughable considering I still have Baylor fans coming on the blog to tell me that they didn't even know this place existed, and that it would somehow affect his decisionmaking, which is probably even more presumptive. Coaches Briles and Montgomery, among others, will do a far better job than I ever could in just a few hours, anyway.
That Wallace is coming in for an official visit to Baylor tomorrow (now today) at all should be considered a victory in an of itself. Though I have stated that he is probably not Cam Newton and should not be held to that standard, he is by all accounts a quality QB prospect that Briles and others want badly enough to offer a scholarship (a relatively scarce resource these days) to play football for free. It will never be a bad thing to have the attention shown a prospect we really want to be reciprocated.
If I had to guess, Wallace's player-host on his visit will be none other than the man he might replace at Baylor, who also just happened to win this year's Heisman Trophy, and it is my hope that he and our coaching staff are able to convince Wallace why he should come to Baylor University next year.
After the jump, I'll tell you why I think we need him.
Assuming for a moment that Robert Griffin III does not return to Baylor next year, and though I have no inside information on the point that seems a reasonable assumption, Baylor has two scholarship quarterbacks returning in 2012. The first is Nick Florence, who hails from Garland, Texas and will be a true senior after having burned his redshirt for one half of play this year, while the other is Bryce Petty, an upcoming redshirt sophomore from Midlothian. Andrew Frerking, a true freshman that walked on to the team this year, could potentially get a scholarship if Briles decided to offer one, but if we get to the point where Frerking is a legitimate option for us, something either went very right for him or we are frerking screwed. In reality, Florence and Petty are 1 and 2 on the second-shortest depth chart possible for the position.
I am not ok with this.
When RG3 exploded onto the scene his freshman year, I vividly remember people asking if having a dynamic quarterback on the roster would pay dividends in recruiting down the road for Baylor. It seems logical that if one QB could demonstrate proficiency and experience success in our program, others might want to follow suit. As Robert improved and began to bring more attention to the program, expectations for our recruiting at that position only increased. It was only a matter of time, and year after year, Coach Briles and company sought out and offered scholarships to elite QB recruits from all over the country in an attempt to woo those QBs to Baylor as the heir apparent to RG3's throne. With the sole exception of Bryce Petty, they were completely and spectacularly unsuccessful. Petty is literally the only recruit signed and brought to school by Baylor since Robert Griffin III listed as a QB on any of the major recruiting services.*
*This statement may be somewhat misleading since Tyrell Jenkins signed with Baylor in 2010 before getting drafted by the Cardinals in the sandwich round of that year's MLB First Year Draft and signing for $1.3 million.
Before I go any further, I know the reaction that most Baylor fans are probably having right now. "Mark," they're saying (if they're not calling me something less complimentary than my first name), "you are doubting Art Briles. Every time you do this, he proves you wrong. Stop doubting Art Briles." To that I respond that I am not really doubting his ability to identify talented quarterbacks, I'm questioning his ability (so far) to bring them to Baylor University. So far in his tenure as our coach, he has had two QBs. One won the Heisman Trophy and broke every offensive record we have. The other is Nick Florence, who may or may not make me look like an idiot for writing this post. It's possible that even if we don't get Bo Wallace, Briles pulls a rabbit out of his hat in the next three weeks by luring a top-notch HS recruit (or a heretofore unidentified JUCO) to come in for 2012. Then I'll look like an idiot and we can worry about something else.
In Baylor circles it has long been considered akin to inspecting the oral cavity of a furnished horse to question what would happen for Briles and Baylor after RG3 left. Obviously, if the rumors are true that we will find out on Tuesday whether that is going to happen, we'll know soon enough. But I have long been uneasy with the fact that behind RG3, we haven't really recruited anyone of tremendous import to come to Baylor. Why didn't the strategy work? Why didn't someone come here to be the heir apparent?
I don't honestly know the answer to the question, though I have received many from my fellow Baylor fans. Some posit that elite recruits didn't want to sit behind RG3 and knew they won't beat him for the position, a theory that looks valid on its face until you realize that in 2010 alone, Texas A&M signed three quarterback recruits with Jerrod Johnson and Ryan Tannehill already on campus. Obviously neither of those QBs turned out to be the caliber of RG3 but having established QBs on the roster did not inhibit their ability to find more. Even after that, Texas A&M went out in 2011 and got another to sit behind the previous three recruits and Tannehill. Those guys had to know they weren't going to start, but A&M convinced them to come anyway. That's just an example of one school, too. Texas seems to pull 4* QBs from in-state like clockwork every year no matter who is starting or who has been recruited. The year after Texas signed all-everything 5* recruit Garrett Gilbert in 2009 they managed to pick up not one, but two QB recruits. The fact that one has already transferred out (Connor Wood to Colorado) and the other (Case McCoy) might follow is unfortunate for them but not really relevant. They got both of the birds in the bush to go with the one in-hand.
I realize that my previous paragraph contains an important fallacy that may be another reason we have not had the recruiting success we hoped for-- we are not Texas or Texas A&M. Both schools recruit, to varying degrees of success mind you, on their names, their histories, and their status as large state schools. Baylor has none of those same advantages. Even with our success this year, we are still building a program. Even after winning a Heisman Trophy and putting one of the nation's best offenses on the field, we are still answering questions and silencing critics. We have not "made it" by any stretch of the imagination, so to expect us to be able to sit back and watch the recruits jump into the boat for us is beyond irrational.
Like I said, I don't know for sure why we haven't had the success recruiting at the QB position that we expected to, and I don't think we'll ever know. Maybe Coach Briles didn't get the guys he really wanted and wasn't going to settle for someone he didn't. Maybe our recent history plays an even bigger role than we could have possibly imagined. Maybe the idea that Briles would bolt the job cost us in the eyes of recruits. Maybe all of those things.
I don't know what's going to happen next year in Baylor's QB recruiting. I can imagine that it will be at the absolute top of Briles' priority list for the class, especially considering the report I linked about our recruitment of Tyrone Swoopes (2013 5* dual-threat QB). That would only make sense. Maybe we get Swoopes or JT Barrett, another outstanding QB recruit from in-state. The odds are probably against us with both, but maybe we pull it off. Then we could be set for another 3-4 years and we get to worry about the heir apparent to THAT guy.
Hell, maybe RG3 decides on Tuesday that he rather likes it in Waco and decides to make this entire discussion moot by putting off the NFL for another year, building on his legend at Baylor, and transitioning to the next era of Baylor football personally.
Absent that decision, though, I don't think we are "set" at QB for 2012 and I don't think Art Briles thinks we are, either. However we got here, we have two scholarship QBs on the roster for 2012 as of this moment and that is hardly enough. We need a talented QB with experience to come in and be able to play in the case of injury or ineffectiveness. The bar for expectations for Baylor has been raised whether we know it or not, and we can't afford to go to war with only two real options assuming RG3 doesn't come back. We need someone else to come in, too, and I want that person to be Bo Wallace.