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No, Baylor Football is Not Recruiting ‘Temple Quality Recruits,’

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Cam Smith of USA Today High School Sports has quite the take

NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Days Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

We’re all wrong at times. I’m certainly not exempt from being wrong—I’m wrong a lot. But Cam Smith of USA Today High School Sports is absolutely wrong when he claims Baylor football is recruiting like Temple. Let’s run through his claims.

Smith begins by writing:

“So far, Baylor’s Class of 2018 looks a lot more like a typical Temple recruiting class than an old school, Art Briles Baylor class.”

Art Briles was hired as Baylor’s head coach in November of 2007 and was fired in May of 2016. That gives him classes from 2008-2015. Here’s the 247 composite average (the metric Smith uses) and the number of 4/5 star guys in each class from the Briles era.

The 2018 class has a higher average than any Briles class. Given that, the 2018 class assuredly looks better than the typical Baylor recruiting class.

Smith goes on to say:

As of August 1, Baylor has 18 commits but just one ranked as a four-star or better. That’s Joshua Fleeks, a Cedar Hill (Texas) wide receiver who still holds scholarship offers from Georgia, Tennessee, UCLA and Texas Tech, among others. If you think any of those programs are giving up on Fleeks, think again.

Yes, schools try to flip 4-star players. I have no idea how this means Rhule is recruiting like he’s at Temple. Baylor has multiple players other schools would like. The Bears have held on to them.

The next argument is about 4-star guys:

The rest of Baylor’s class is comprised entirely of current three-star recruits.

In fact, if one goes back to 2015, when Rhule was leading Temple and Baylor was at the peak of Art Briles’ power, the Owls landed a class that was eerily similar to the one Rhule is putting together this year.

Meanwhile, Briles’ 2015 class was far different than the current one heading to Baylor. Compared to Fleeks’ lone status as an incoming four-star Baylor commit, the 2015 Baylor recruiting class included three four-star recruits, including star quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

First, it’s ironic to say Rhule may not hold onto guys, then credit a prior class for landing Jarrett Stidham. Second, it’s odd to say the big difference is that the 2015 class had two more 4-star guys. I have no idea why this is the metric that determines if Rhule is just recruiting like he’s at Temple. Third, Baylor is extremely likely to land at least one more 4-star player, Gerry Bohanon. All 14 247 predictions have the quarterback landing at Baylor. That would give Baylor at least two 4-star guys, which would put this class within one of the 2015 class. Fourth, the Bears could still land Craig Williams, Tommy Bush or several 4-star players. Fifth, several of the 2018 guys could become 4-star recruits. Scout, Rivals and ESPN already have a few of the 2018 guys in that category.

I normally would avoid just listing out a bunch of reasons something is wrong, but all of these reasons slay Smith’s reasoning.

The next paragraph in the article states:

Temple’s 2015 class? It also featured 18 members. None of them were four stars.

Baylor has a 4-star player. When Bohanon commits, there will be two. That is not like Temple in the only metric he claims Baylor is like Temple.

The article finishes:

That disparity between 2015 and 2018 Baylor underscores how hard it will be for the Bears to continue keeping pace. Compare Baylor’s current class with the one sported by new Texas coach Tom Herman, which features a five-star, 10 four-star and three three-star recruits, and it’s not hard to see how a talent disparity could emerge, and quickly.

All of this fails to demonstrate what yeoman’s work it has been for Rhule to keep the program level-headed and moving forward. It’s been nothing short of a miracle for Rhule to both keep the program’s head together and moving forward amidst the maelstrom created by each slow drip of information about the school’s rape scandal.

Still, it’s not good enough to keep pace with the Longhorns of the world. It may have been effective to keep Temple near the top of the American Athletic Conference, but it will be difficult to continue treading water in the Big XII. Only time will show how Rhule adjusts.

Wait, I thought the comparison was that Baylor was recruiting like Temple? Now the issue is that Baylor is not recruiting like Texas? Yes, that is true. But that has nothing to do with Baylor recruiting like Temple.

Baylor didn’t recruit like Texas in the past. There has been a “talent disparity” by ranking for years between the schools. That disparity is not because Baylor is recruiting like Temple. The Bears are recruiting as well as ever.

Many doubted Matt Rhule’s ability to recruit at Baylor. Some thought he lacked needed connections in Texas, while others thought nobody could hope to recruit talented players to Baylor. Those folks were wrong. The Bears have a higher average player rank than ever and are closing in on landing another 4-star talent.

Cam Smith is free to say these players aren’t Baylor quality. It’s just odd he’d elect to be so wrong.