Over the past few weeks, as the rest of Baylor's high school recruiting class remained relatively stable, our coaches have cast an extremely wide net to find potential contributors for next year's team. Recently, that net has been directed mostly at the JUCO ranks, where our coaches have concentrated on finding help both on the defensive line and in the secondary.
Early in the recruiting season, Baylor offered and seemed in good shape with Georgia CB Steven Nelson, the 13th-ranked player from the JUCO ranks for this class. One outlet even reported that Nelson might switch to the Bears (he's committed to UGA) eventually, but that thought disappeared as the season wore on and contact between the two sides diminished. If Baylor decided to reconnect at this point, it would clearly have to come from behind to do so since Nelson is still committed.
Trinity Valley DT Quincy Russell is (or should be) a name known to most followers of Baylor recruiting. Out of high school, the 4* DT from San Antonio chose the Longhorns over our Bears before failing to qualify. Texas is now out of the running for whatever reason with Russell, who appears to be headed to either Oklahoma or Arkansas if you believe the rumors. We're still recruiting the 31st-ranked JUCO player (best in Texas) as far as I know.
Those two are the heretofore uncommitted (to Baylor at least) JUCO talents Baylor has been on the longest. The biggest fish of the most recent additions to our offer list is another DT, California's Marquel Combs. Combs holds nearly three dozen offers from some of the best football programs in the country, including numerous traditional and new SEC powers, but has recently eliminated the entire SEC from contention for his services. A recent update from BearsTruth's Colt Barber with Combs ties him to another elite JUCO defender, DE/DT Marcus Hardison from Dodge City, Kansas. Combs mentions in that update that he and Hardison have become close through social media and plan to take visits together in the coming weeks. That probably explains Combs scheduling visits for both Kansas schools, and if I'm judging the tenor of Colt's article with Combs correctly, Baylor could be in line, as well. Both players would be tremendous additions at need positions to our class.
The most-recent offers to the JUCO ranks went out today to Arizona CB Nate Willis and Mississippi DT Ge'Monee Brown. Willis' profile at 247Sports already shows a visit scheduled for next weekend's game against Kansas State, perhaps not so coincidentally another one of the offering schools on Willis' list. Brown is flying a little further under the radar than the other players on this list, and doesn't actually have a 247Sports profile yet. He does have a HUDL profile, though. He's also named "GeMonee," and that's just about all I need to know.
Were I to venture a guess, I would say that these six players will not be the last Baylor offers to try to find immediate help for our defense. Should Baylor pull Waco HS DT Andrew Billings, obviously the dire need for defensive linemen becomes somewhat less, but I don't think it would make a tremendous difference in our preferences. Attrition across the defense has left us in a situation where we have precious few upperclassmen on the defensive line already. That positions us perfectly, I think, to take JUCOs now and bridge the gap.
There's a bit of risk associated with consistently recruiting JUCO players because you typically have them for about half the time as players recruiting straight out of high school. Roster throughput, or turnover, necessarily increases, meaning you have to recruit more players to fill the same spots. The programs that get into trouble with JUCO recruiting do so because they don't simultaneously recruit HS players behind the JUCOs, instead going the stopgap route exclusively. When the well dries up-- and it often does because junior colleges don't refresh their own ranks completely every year-- you can have serious problems with roster holes much akin to the ones we face right now. All that being said, I support this effort wholeheartedly for our team right now given our recent focus on recruiting defensive players right out of high school. We have talent, it's just very young and will need time to develop. JUCOs can give us that time.