Looking Ahead to 2015: Projecting Baylor's Depth Chart and Position Battles

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

We're now 100 days away from the start of 2014. Time to look ahead another 365 after that to the start of 2015.

By now, you guys know how crazy I am about projected depth charts.  I've done three different sets since the 2013-2014 season ended alone, and I'll probably do several more.  I like doing it for several reasons, not least of which is that it lets you see how things stack up going forward, what your needs might be, and how you might fulfill them when the time comes.  For example, we knew coming into last season that with two senior defensive ends, we'd need someone to step up and take over in 2014.  Now with the specter of losing both OTs (Spencer Drango, possibly, to the Draft, and Troy Baker, definitely, to graduation), we'll probably need replacements.

Let's get right to it.  Instead of posting the updated post-spring depth charts in their entirety, I'll link you to my post when they were released.  I'll do an updated post on them later just to have them in a more usable format.  For now, I'm going to just look at the starters in terms of who we're losing and who might come back.  I'm going to assume for the purposes of this post that Drango comes back and Oakman leaves.  Where it makes sense, I'll include current (2015) recruits that might play immediately.

OFF
2014 2015
QB 14 Bryce Petty (SR) 17
13
Seth Russell (JR) OR
Chris Johnson (SO)
RB 32 Rashodrick Linwood (SO) 32
2
Rashodrick Linwood (JR)
Johnny Jefferson
(SO)
UB 28 Devin Chafin (SO)
28 Devin Chafin (JR)
WR 5 Antwan Goodley (SR)
16 Davion Hall (SO)
IR 1
23
Corey Coleman (SO) OR
Clay Fuller (SR)
1 Corey Coleman (JR)
IR 42
Levi Norwood (SR)
9
K.D. Cannon (SO)
WR 4
Jay Lee (JR)
4
Jay Lee (SR)
TE

41
20

41
85
Tre'Von Armstead (JR) OR
Jordan Feuerbacher (SO)
LT 58 Spencer Drango (JR) 58 Spencer Drango (SR)
LG 60
73
LaQuan McGowan (JR) OR
Blake Muir (JR)
60
73
LaQuan McGowan (SR) OR
Blake Muir (SR)
C 55
Kyle Fuller (SO)
55
Kyle Fuller (JR)
RG 67 Desmine Hilliard (JR) 67
Desmine Hilliard (SR)
RT 75 Troy Baker (SR) --
69

Maurice Porter (JR)
Pat Colbert (SR)

So right off the bat, we have the biggest question mark you can possibly have on the offensive side of the football going into 2015: QB.  At that point, we should have at least 3 scholarship QBs on campus in Seth Russell, Chris Johnson, and true freshman Chad President.  With all due respect to Chad, the possibility that he starts as a true freshman over the other two seems pretty small.  That leaves Russell and Johnson battling it out to be the next record-breaker for Art Briles.  Russell will be entering his fourth year on campus after redshirting and then backing up Petty for two years.  Johnson, his third, although he will have the added benefit of having enrolled early and gone through an extra spring.

The rest of the way, things look really good.  Baylor will bring back all of its RBs from this coming season, led by Linwood and Chafin.  Goodley, Norwood, and Fuller will graduate, yet they will leave behind an incredibly talented group including those listed above (Coleman, Cannon, and Hall), as well as Ishmael Zamora, Chris Platt, and Quan Jones.  How the latter group continues to develop heading into 2015 will be critical to our offensive continuity going forward, particularly with a new QB.

On the OL, Baylor could bring back as much as 4/5 of this year's offensive line, losing only Baker to graduation.  I'm replacing him with 2015 JUCO OT Maurice Porter, who I think is a perfect day 1 RT, and senior Pat Colbert.  One option should Drango leave for the 2015 Draft is to kick Broxton out to LT as a senior, assuming we don't get another JUCO OT to help soften the blow.

All-in-all, depending on whether you count Fuller and Penning as starters (I don't), Baylor should lose 4 or 5 "starters" on offense after 2014.  We can't know for sure how many until Drango's intentions become more clear.  If he goes, I'd count it as 5.  If he stays, 4 (Petty, Goodley, Norwood, Baker).

DEF
2014 2015
RE 2 Shawn Oakman (JR)
56
86
KJ Smith (SO)
Samuel Ukwuachu (SR)
DT 95
90
Beau Blackshear (JR) OR
Javonte Magee (SO)
95
90
Beau Blackshear (SR) OR
Javonte Magee (JR)
NG 75
Andrew Billings (SO) 75
Andrew Billings (JR)
LE 92 Jamal Palmer (JR) 92
Jamal Palmer (SR)
WLB 20
Aiavion Edwards (SO) 20 Aiavion Edwards (JR)
MLB 44
Bryce Hager (SR)
5
Grant Campbell (SR)
NB 38
Collin Brence (SR)
--
Cordell Dorsey (RS-Fr)
CB 18
1
Xavien Howard (SO) OR
Chris Sanders (JR)
18
1
Xavien Howard (JR) OR
Chris Sanders (SR)
DS 28 Orion Stewart (SO) 28
Orion Stewart (JR)
CS 13 Terrell Burt (JR)
13 Terrell Burt (SR)
CB 24 Terrance Singleton (SO)
24
Terrance Singleton (JR)

As I said above, I'm assuming for the purposes of this post that Shawn Oakman will leave for the 2015 NFL Draft.  2014 will be his fourth year in college, his second at Baylor, and he should be a high enough draft pick (barring injury) to justify the decision.  It makes sense.

If he leaves, Baylor loses 3 starters off the 2014 defense in Oakman, Hager, and Brence.  While Oakman and Hager, in particular, will be difficult to replace, the fact that we will bring back our entire secondary again (we did that in 2013, though we flipped Ahmad Dixon for Sam Holl at S) is extremely exciting.  Even better, 3 of the 4 projected starters for 2015 will still be juniors, giving us a leg up on the following year.  That's exciting, too.  The one we'll lose is Terrell Burt, who after his sophomore year seems like he has been here forever.

On the defensive line, we lose the aforementioned Oakman and nothing else.  The interior quartet of Magee, Blackshear, Bonds, and Billings will all be back for 2015, with only Blackshear leaving prior to 2016.  I have Grant Campbell, listed as a MLB following spring practice, stepping into the MLB spot vacated by Hager.  Once again, we'll need a NB.  There, I have 2014 recruit Cordell Dorsey stepping in, but it could just as easily be T'Kevian Rockwell (should he make it to Baylor) or sophomore (at that point) Travon Blanchard.

-----

One of the benefits from having a relatively young team -- Baylor has just 6 seniors on the entire post-spring 2-deep -- is knowing that the following year, you're going to bring back a huge number of players.  The 2015 Bears should be no different.  I count 7 starters gone "for sure" out of 22 on the 2014 team (4 offensive, 3 defensive), which should be pretty good.  Yes, one of those leaving will be probably the second-best QB Baylor has ever had, and that loss will be dearly felt.  Still, there's a reason people count returning starters every year even if doing so without context seems silly: the more people with experience you bring back, the better you tend to be.  In that, the Baylor Bears look quite strong heading into 2015, which could be yet another special season.

UPDATE (6/23): WR Robbie Rhodes has left the program.  I have removed him from these charts.
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