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ODB 2012 Recruit Impact Rankings: 5-8

After a week-long layoff we are back with the next installment in the inaugural ODB Football Recruit Impact Rankings! To reacquaint you with where we've been, here are links to The Board, Set 1, Set 2, Set 3, and Set 4. I can feel the excitement building!

Just as a reminder since it has been so long, these rankings are purely subjective and not intended to be value judgments; I am giving you a ranking of our 2012 football recruiting class in terms of how much impact I think they will have on Baylor's football program. In some cases, the pure potential of the player is everything no matter how far away that player might be or how long we have to wait. In others, the proximity of a recruit or the prospect of immediate playing time earns them a higher ranking than otherwise. Position and team need definitely matter; if we had an offensive line with wall-to-wall sophomore 5*s, that obviously leaves less of a chance for a 2012 recruit to play a big role, for example.

Here's where we've been so far:

24. Orion Stewart - S - Midway, HS (Waco, TX)
23. Terrance Singleton - ATH - Memorial HS (Port Arthur, TX)
22. Kaleb Moore - WR - Cypress Fair HS (Cypress, TX
21. Lynx Hawthorne - WR - Refugio HS (Refugio, TX)
20. Devin Chafin - RB - Burkburnett HS (Burkburnett, TX)
19. Patrick Levels - CB - Roosevelt HS (Dallas, TX)
18. Terrell Burt - CB - Wylie HS (Wylie, TX)
17. Kyle Fuller - OL - Wylie HS (Wylie, TX)
16. Shamycheal Chatman - LB - Sealy HS (Sealy, TX)
15. Zorrell Ezell - DT - Humble HS (Humble, TX)
14. Rashodrick Linwood - WR/CB - Linden-Kildare HS (Linden, TX)
13. Tre'von Armstead - OT - Memorial HS (Port Arthur, TX)
12. Dominique Banks - DE - Ryan HS (Denton, TX)
11. Ryan Reid - CB - Sherman HS (Sherman, TX)
10. Jamal Palmer - DE - Boyd HS (McKinney, TX)
9. Eddie Lackey - LB - Riverside CC (Murrieta, CA)

That's a pretty stout list, I'd say, and there are still 8 recruits left to rank! Tonight's group, the second-to-last in our countdown, will obviously cover numbers 5-8 in descending order. Made up of mostly defensive players once again, tonight we have the first true QB on the list (in that we know he will be a QB at Baylor), two LBs, and our second JUCO. One of the members of this illustrious group is actually an All-American this season, so head below the jump to find out who!

8. Kendall Ehrlich – LB – Pearland HS ( Pearland, TX)A true MLB-to-be in Baylor’s system, Erlich, who sports great speed (4.53 in the 40) and a good frame to add weight and muscle (he currently stands 6-2, 208), is one of my favorite recruits in the class. Kendall has started each of the last 3 years for Pearland HS, one of the best 5A programs in the state the last few years, and earned all-state honors in his junior and senior campaigns. His highlight video from shows a smart and instinctive defensive anchor, and given Baylor’s needs at the LB position, particularly ILB, it’s no stretch to say that Ehrlich could see the field sooner than later. Between Ehrlich, Lackey and another recruit slightly higher on this list, I am extremely confident that Baylor can upgrade a position where we have been somewhat weak the last few years and have been forced to rely on lightly-recruited gamers and walk-ons.

7. Joey Searcy – DT – Navarro JC ( Corsicana, TX)Those that pay really close attention to Baylor’s official NSD page might notice that Mr. Searcy is actually not on it. There is a reason for that; Baylor’s transfer rules are so ridiculous for JUCO students that Searcy was unable to enroll as he should have and will have to wait for the first summer session. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Searcy is a 6-0, 300 pound space-eater that will anchor Phil Bennett’s interior defensive line as soon as this coming year. If offers matter to you, KState was on Searcy the entire time and Texas Tech came on late to try to add to their dozen-strong JUCO class. Searcy’s position on this list stems from his proximity and chances for immediate playing time. Baylor expects him to play a pivotal role in our rotation at DT in 2012 and I, for one, expect him to do it quite well. My favorite aspect of Searcy is his pure strength; Rivals lists his bench and squat max at 420 and 585 pounds, respectively.

6. Seth Russell – QB – Garland HS (Garland, TX) Because I am somewhat of a pessimist, I have been concerned about the QB recruiting at Baylor for the post-RG3 period a lot longer than most. Once it became clear that RG3 wouldn’t come back for his senior season—around about the time he lifted that bronze statue from the podium in NYC—what was once something we could really use became something we absolutely had to have. Without a QB recruit in 2012, we would only have 2 scholarship QBs on the entire roster. Briles and Baylor flirted with several higher-profile recruits like Devin Fuller, Bo Wallace, and even Cyler Miles (if rumors are to be believed) before snagging the former Kansas commit Russell. Once he was in the fold, it became clear that Baylor didn’t settle. Briles mentioned at his NSD press conference that Russell was the best QB that came to any of their camps in 2011. It’s easy to see why he would say that, Russell has good size (6-4, 205 lbs), good speed (he runs the 100 on his school’s track team and is in the 4.5s on his 40 times), and can make every throw necessary in our offense on the run. He is probably not someone that is going to come in and compete for playing time right away, but Baylor doesn’t need him to be. In 2012 we have Florence and Petty as experienced options available. In 2013, however, when Russell is a RS FR, he will have the opportunity to back up Petty at the very least and perhaps challenge for playing time. That gap, from Petty to whoever we recruit in the 2013 class (Chris Johnson, for example), is what made Briles decide we had to have a QB. I’m extremely excited that we got this one.

5. Brian Nance – LB – Trinity HS (Euless, TX) – Typically when I put the HS information on these I have to look it up, but that is not true for Brian Nance, the US Army All-American LB from powerhouse Trinity HS. People familiar with recruiting rankings will wonder why Nance isn’t higher on this list than 5. He is the consensus second-highest ranked defensive recruit in our class, he plays a need position (LB), and he plays it at a level Baylor hasn’t seen in a long time. I didn’t intend to slight him at all by putting him here because I could not possibly have been happier when it became clear that Nance would sign with Baylor. His offer list is tremendous (OU, Oregon, Tennessee, Arkansas, Notre Dame, and TCU, among others) and his highlight films are equally impressive despite the fact that he suffered an injury before the season began and played tentatively through the first few games. Watch this video from HUDL and tell me that you don’t see an all-conference performer sooner than later. Nance is a physical monster (6-3, 230 already as a high school senior) that is ranked in the top 30 nationwide among linebackers by every recruiting service that exists and could challenge for playing time as a true freshman.

Short Recap: Before we get to the final installment, something that occurred to me early on in this process was the completeness of our defensive recruiting. You could easily field an entire defense solely from this recruiting class, and at some point we actually just might do that. If you take the list as a whole, Baylor recruited somewhere between 12 and 14 recruits that will probably end up on defense. Just because I'm obsessive and can do it, I thought I'd put together a defense based solely on these recruits. Remember that we run a modified 4-2-5 defense; we say it's a 4-3, but one of our linebackers plays the "hero" position (this year it was Ahmad Dixon, a converted safety) that is more like a rover. Let's see what that defense might look like:

DE: Magee (strong side), Palmer (weak)
DT: Searcy, Ezell
LB: Nance (ILB), Ehrlich/Lackey (MLB)
Hero: Edwards
CB: Linwood/Burt, Reid
S: Griffin, Singleton/Stewart

I don't know about you, but that defense looks pretty decent to me. I'm guessing a bit on Edwards playing the Hero rather than safety. He might have to bulk up a bit to be a real asset in run support, but if Dixon could do it this season, I am confident that Edwards can, as well.