Earlier this afternoon, Prashanth and I were talking about how Baylor will look to fill the remaining spots in its 2013 recruiting class now that Rami Hammad is on board as the 20th commit. As nearly as I can figure, 20 commits in this class puts Baylor at 86 scholarships taken next year, assuming all non-seniors return (i.e. nobody leaves early) and nobody transfers out. Both of those assumptions, however, are probably not reasonable. Cyril Richardson is likely to take at least a look at the NFL Draft and I'm guessing a few guys will be advised to move on due to playing time. Turnover happens to just about every program just about every year.
So, it seems logical that Baylor would look to take 25 recruits in this class, leaving 5 spots unfilled at this point (assuming also that all current recruits remain). How are we likely to fill them? I'm glad you asked.
1. Baylor's first remaining priority in this recruiting class is almost undoubtedly on the defensive line and from the high school ranks. The name to know is Andrew Billings, a 4* defensive tackle from Waco HS in our own Waco, Texas. Billings is an absolute beast on the inside, nearly unblockable at times, and actually plays both ways for Waco. He reportedly prefers defense and would like to play on that side of the ball in college, one of the reasons Baylor might have an edge for his services at this point. If Baylor could swing a commitment from Billings, that would easily be the biggest win left on our recruiting board. He holds offers from Texas, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas Tech ... you get the idea. He's the real deal at defensive tackle and could play immediately next year as a true freshman. Those kinds of guys don't grow on trees. Get him and I'm doing fistpumps and giving high fives to random strangers.
2. Our second-highest priority (or tied for first, depending on who you ask) is a player of similar caliber but that inhabits the other side of the ball. Close observers of Baylor's roster know the last name, and close observers of this board know him well already: OG Caleb Benenoch. Brother to our own Josh Benenoch, Caleb plays for Seven Lakes HS in Katy, Texas. His offer list looks similar to Billings', with Texas, Oklahoma, UCLA, Auburn, and Kansas State arguably the highlights thereof. UT fans probably disagree about our chances with Caleb, but Baylor fans are hearing good things these days. He would complete a fantastic, and desperately needed, interior OL class for 2013 and could be ready to start by his redshirt freshman year. He's that good. Get Billings AND Benenoch and we take a step up to cartwheels.
3. The third through fifth spots on the list are likely defined by preference. I know in my heart of hearts that Baylor needs impact defensive linemen more than anything else, so I'm giving this spot to 4* JUCO DT Lavon Hooks. One of the top remaining available JUCO players overall, Hooks is scheduled to visit Baylor officially on November 30 for our last game against Oklahoma State. The selling pitch is obvious: playing time, and it appears to be getting his attention. Hooks would undoubtedly start from his first moment on campus and would be an impact player in every sense of the word. His highlight videos on HUDL are extremely impressive. Billings + Benenoch + Hooks? Those cartwheels become NAKED CARTWHEELS.
4. Fourth on my list is another defensive lineman that Baylor will welcome this weekend on campus in Ge'Monee Brown. Put aside the fact that his name is amazing for a moment because that's only part of what Mr. Brown offers. Slightly less heralded than his potential partner-in-crime Mr. Hooks, Brown holds one offer at this point that I know of (Baylor) with several other schools looking to jump in on this fast-rising recruit. Kansas State is supposedly the primary competition at this point for Brown, who could actually just pull the trigger during his visit and put this baby to bed. Getting a Baylor offer was obviously a big deal to him from his statements on twitter, and getting his commitment would be a big deal to us. I will be extremely excited should he commit; he'll be a big step up immediately.
5. The fifth name on my list is probably a little more controversial than the others. Everybody can see we need defensive linemen in the worst way, and most can agree we need interior linemen, as well. Beyond that, though, our needs are probably less defined. Some would lean toward the secondary, so names like Nate Willis (JUCO CB) or Brandon Willingham (JUCO CB/S), both of whom hold offers and will visit either this weekend or on the 30th, make the most sense. I certainly wouldn't be opposed to either. My priority, however, is at the QB position given the fact that Bryce Petty will be the only QB on our roster with any post-HS experience at all next year. Behind him right now are only RS-Fr (in 2013) Seth Russell and incoming true freshman Chris Johnson, if you don't count potential walk-ons. It's not that I don't trust Petty, but I would like someone truly challenging him in the Spring and giving us another option. Our best bet there is dual-threat JUCO QB Nick Marshall. Baylor is a relatively late entry to the Marshall sweepstakes and therefore trails both Kansas State and Texas Tech for his services. Should we get him on campus for a visit, however, all bets are off. Baylor can make an extremely impressive argument to a potential impact QB, and I'd love to add Marshall to our ranks.
Get all five of the above names and we're not talking about naked cartwheels any more. We're talking instead about all-out streaking through the streets flinging my green and gold afar, if you will. Our class is already the best in a generation, with those guys, it would be the best in a lot longer than that.