Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Today was the first day JUCO players intending to enroll at semester were eligible to actually sign National Letters of Intent to the universities of their choice. Several schools, including Baylor, welcomed significant additions to their teams today.
The first real signing date of the 2013 recruiting season came today for JUCO players enrolling mid-semester in order to go through spring drills. Baylor brought in 3 JUCO recruits today in addition to the 2 high school players already committed through the signing of financial aid contracts with the school.
The Big 12 is making hay in the JUCO recruiting season this year lead by Kansas (10), Kansas State (5 so far, rumored to be more), and our own Baylor Bears. Oklahoma welcomed what should be a familiar name to their ranks in DT Quincy Russell, who flirted with Baylor coming out of high school, eventually signed with Texas, and didn't qualify due to grades. They also scored the late commitment of Josiah St. John, the mammoth OT from Trinity Valley CC who visited Baylor in the fall with his teammate.
It's important to remember that these lists are in no way final. Though the players who sign LOIs or financial aid contracts are bound to the school, probably every school you can think of is still actively recruiting other players. That arrangement may sound inequitable in that the schools have all the power, and I wouldn't disagree with that assessment. It's not something likely to change, however, and everybody operates under basically the same system. For Baylor, the five names on the list so far are likely to be joined by at least 2 more, probably more like 4. We don't yet have the defensive tackles we've been looking for and are rumored to be leading for the #1 JUCO OG in the land Devonte Danzey. He's scheduled to make his commitment known on Christmas Day.
A keen eye probably notices that the latest update from BaylorBears.com on the midterm enrollees only lists four names. Don't let that bother you because I'm quite sure the fifth came in after that post went up. Here are the players that signed with Baylor today, beginning with the two high school players:
ATH/WR Kiante Griffin (Carrollton, TX): A member of Baylor's 2012 class, Kiante did not make it through the NCAA Clearinghouse prior to this semester in order to be eligible for the 2012 school year. He chose not to enroll at any junior colleges or prep schools and was eventually cleared to enroll in January. He has remained faithful to Baylor throughout the recruiting process despite interest from other schools along the way and will have full eligibility at Baylor (5 years to play 4 seasons). Since he's already a year older than most incoming high school players, I'm not sure how Baylor will use him going forward. Getting him in for spring drills this year will definitely be a plus, but I could still see a redshirt year in his future. He was slotted to play WR during his original recruitment.
QB Chris Johnson (Bryan, TX): Chris was the first commitment of Baylor's 2012 recruiting class and intended to enroll at semester the entire way. He idolizes Robert Griffin III, who also enrolled early, and has all the physical tools you could ever want in a QB. Due to a relatively poor season this year marred by inconsistent play from those around him in Bryan, Chris' stats are underwhelming at best, and he is best described as extremely raw. I'm excited for his potential given a spring to work with Briles and a very likely redshirt year, but he's a project all the way.
Now for the JUCOs:
TE Gus Penning (Riverside CC, CA): Following his enrollment in January, Penning will have three years to play three for Baylor and will fill the role of a pass-catching TE from the moment he gets here. He has excellent size (6-5, 245) for the position but will need to put on bulk.
OL Tyler Edwards (Blinn CC, TX): The most-recent commitment in Baylor's class, Edwards switched from West Virginia after visiting Baylor and will have 2 years to play 2. I expect him to slide right in to a guard spot or as Baylor's next center, though I'd prefer Danzey for that. Baylor lists Edwards as 6-4, 285, numbers that align with those reported by the recruiting services.
LB Brian Nance (Euless, TX by way of Hargrave Military Academy): The prodigal son of Baylor's 2012 recruiting class returns in the #2-ranked JUCO player in the country for this season. Not only is Nance one of Baylor's best recruits this year, he was one of our best last year. He didn't make it in because of grades (something I had to cover repeatedly here), but neither his commitment to Baylor nor my excitement about his potential wavered over the intervening time period. He should come in ready to contribute right away, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if he emerged from spring drills as a starter at either linebacker position.
We should know more in the coming days about any potential additions to the midterm class. I still strongly suspect Baylor will look to take 2 DTs of one form or another (meaning either 1 HS DT and 1 JUCO or 2 JUCOs), and we're waiting for those chips to fall. Andrew Billings (HS) and Edwin Delva (JUCO) are our biggest priorities there, probably followed by Ge'Monee Brown and Demetrius Campbell (both JUCOs). We'll see how that shakes out.