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Evaluations of the Newest Signees: Pt. 2. Galvin, Fleeks, Thornton, Williams, Sims, Taylor, and Smith.

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Baylor Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Once again, please comment with your opinions, disagreements, or other general thoughts!

Connor Galvin

6-6, 260 lbs. Offensive Tackle. Katy, TX.

SPARQ: 5.54 forty, 4.69 shuttle, 27.3 vertical, 31 powerthrow.

Sleeper alert. Galvin is my favorite OL in this class, and it might not be close. He is huge, powerful, and can move. You just don’t see guys his size that still have his kind of athleticism. His offer list was impressive when he committed to Baylor, but we never heard anything after that. I would guess that if he had not shut his process down he’d of had offers from about everyone in the country. This guy is criminally underrated. I think he’s the best OL Baylor has signed in the past few years.

There isn’t too much more to say—his tape speaks for itself. He already shows proficient technique in several respects, giving him the ability to play early. His frame and athleticism means that unless something goes terribly wrong, he’ll be a Tackle for sure. His biggest asset is probably his ability to drive block—once he latches on to a defender, he uses his athleticism and power to drive defenders back.

It’s impressive that he shows so much power at only 260 lbs. I would guess that Galvin redshirts, adds additional weight, then starts at Tackle after this group of seniors graduate. Galvin is a supreme talent. Baylor is lucky to have him.

Joshua Fleeks

6-0, 170 lbs. Athlete. Cedar Hill, TX.

SPARQ: 4.48 forty, 4.10 shuttle, 34.6 inch vertical, 32.5 power throw.

Fleek’s tape is electric. He’s aplaymaker who you want to get the ball in his hands as many times as possible. His test numbers speak to a great athlete who has good short area quickness with enough long speed to take it the distance. His junior film is really good, as the team (Coach Joey McGuire) clearly knew to get him the ball as much as possible.

Fleeks shows a real ability to make the first defender miss. He’ll be a real asset on screens and 3rd downs where you can get him the ball and rely on him to make a guy miss to get to the first down. You can have a team full of really good WRs and RBs. but having a guy who you can rely on to move the chains is invaluable. This is what makes David Montgomery of Iowa State so valuable to his team.

Fleeks could play either inside WR or RB. There isn’t a ton of tape of him playing RB, so it is tough to diagnose his ability there, but if he can do it I think that’s where you maximize his value. However, I think he’d also make a great inside receiver. Baylor showed with Tony Nicholson this year that they want an inside receiver who is multi-faceted. Fleeks can be that guy.

All of Baylor’s offensive skill talent is coming back for the 2018 season. It’s gonna be tough for Fleeks to get much playing time. However, his advantage is that baylor has many more outside WR types than inside, which could give him an edge. I could see him having a Trestan Ebner type year—i.e., a guy who plays sparingly to begin with but by the end of the year Baylor is figuring out ways to get him the ball. Fleeks is one of the best players in this class, a guy you don’t really have to project much. He’s a great athlete and really good with the ball in his hands. Position TBD.

Tyquan Thornton

6-3, 165 lbs. Wide Receiver. Miami, FL.

No SPARQ results. 21.3 200m, 10.5-.7 100m, 46.77 400m. FAST.

Thornton improved a ton from his junior to senior year, which is always great to see. When he first committed to Baylor, his film looked really raw—mostly running straight deep and looking somewhat raw catching the football. His senior film is totally different. He does a little bit of everything, and looks more natural and comfortable doing it. I attached two different highlight videos, because his senior year film is almost exclusively him playing WR, but he played a lot of QB this year and the 2nd video highlights that. I almost wonder if he could have been a legit QB prospect if he had started playing it earlier in life.

So, first things first: Thornton is really, really fast. And he doesn’t just have top end speed, he has terrific acceleration. This is really important for a WR, as acceleration is what allows you to eat up the defensive back’s cushion so you can get over the top. When I watched his junior tape, I thought he might be a bit of a one trick pony, but it’s clear that isn’t the case. Thornton shows a lot of WR skills that give him everything he needs to become a dominant isolation receiver. I was really impressed by the 2nd video; he looks almost like Lamar Jackson in the way he moves in tight spaces. Thornton is a dynamic playmaker—not just a deep threat. He also shows tremendous hands, truly plucking the ball out of the air.

In many ways, I think Thornton could be the next Denzel Mims. Both are 6-3 guys who are skinny and will never get much above 200 lbs. Both have elite top end speed (Mims also was a 21.3 200m guy). Baylor will want to utilize Thornton in a similar way as well, as the Z WR who you can’t leave alone without safety help. Even if Thornton doesn’t develop as you might hope, he is at the very least a deep threat from day one. He has amazing top end speed, terrific acceleration, good size, and good hands. Thornton probably has the biggest upside of anyone in this class.

Craig Williams

5-9, 170 lbs. Athlete. Crosby, TX.

SPARQ: 4.36 forty, 4.47 shuttle, 29 inch vertical.

Williams is electric. He’s incredibly fast, and because of his shorter stature he is able to get up to speed really quickly, which is vital for RBs. He’s really decisive in his cuts—you can tell he always has an eye on getting upfield as fast as possible. He makes guys miss but not always with a juke; he’s really proficient at using his speed to create angles, even in short spaces, where defenders just barely miss him. Williams is like Fleeks in that he is just an offensive weapon. Get him the ball.

I definitely think that Williams starts at RB, and I like his potential to stay there. He isn’t a fit for what Baylor did under Briles, but he is under Rhule. I think it’s pretty clear what Baylor wants to do on offense with their two RB takes of Wlliams and Fleeks. Baylor wants to run an “Oregon-Style Spread Option” utilizing mostly inside and outside zone. The best backs for this style of offense are guys who can plant one foot and get up-field. This is why Terence Williams was not a great fit in the new offense—he was a dive straight ahead type Briles power back. This scheme can utilize smaller guys who are better at finding the hole.

Williams is a great fit for the new offense, and will bring a combination of speed and elusiveness that is unique even in the Big XII. I doubt he redshirts, as there are only 3 or 4 RBs on the roster right now. You tend to need 5 or so guys to play RB throughout a season. Instant impact talent. One of the better players in this class.

Ben Sims

6-5, 240 lbs. Tight End. San Antonio, TX.

No SPARQ results.

Sims might not have the pure athletic upside of Henle or Taylor, but he is more well-rounded and definitely ready to play now. Sims shows an impressive all-around game for a high school TE; often times, high school TEs are relegated to either blocking or running routes all the time. Sims shows an impressive mix of both.

Sims already has the size and frame to contribute early on, as I think all of these Tight Ends will (1 returning scholarship TE from last year). Expect to see him get a lot of burn on the goal-line because of his blocking ability and sure hands. Sims shows more ability as a pass catcher than I would have thought at his size. For a 240 pounder, he can really run. Furthermore, he shows a diverse route tree, with ability to not only be a mainstay over the middle of the field, but make contested catches over smaller DBs.

I don’t think Sims is ever going to be “matchup nightmare” style TE, a la Mark Andrews, but he will be a consistent starter for 3 or 4 years. He’s the kind of guy who does a lot of what you need in this system: shows enough quickness to block on the edge for inside and outside zone, makes contested catches outside, and knows how to find the hole over the middle. He’ll be a terrific asset as a guy Baylor can flex out and use as a slot WR as well. He has really natural hands and can really run for his size.

Sims is another victim of the recruiting services not valuing “old school” TEs like they used to. Sims is a great take and will be an immediate impact for Baylor. He’s not an early enrollee like Henle, but because Tyler Henderson is the only returning scholarship TE, expect Sims to get a ton of burn immediately.

Bralen Taylor

6-7, 221 lbs. Athlete. Cuero, TX.

SPARQ: 4.91 forty, 4.63 shuttle, 31 foot powerthrow.

Taylor is a bit of a difficult eval, because I really don’t know where he is gonna play. All recruiting services list him as a Tight End, but he played almost exclusively at WR and wildcat QB in high school. Putting him at TE is all projection.

Taylor is certainly a good athlete. Running a 4.91 at 6’7 is no joke. He also shows a lot skill at WR as well, running relatively crisp routes and showing overall wherewithal at the position. If he stays at WR, I”m just not sure he has the necessary quickness or speed to be much more than a specialist (redzone, third down). Baylor also already has a ton of talented WRs and it’s tough to crack the rotation at that position.

It is entirely possible that Taylor is able to put on good weight, learn to block, and becomes a good TE. It’s also possible that he develops a niche at WR and becomes a valuable player there. His size naturally makes you wonder whether he could pack on enough weight to become a DE. I just worry that at TE, because he is so long-legged, whether he will consistently be able to fire off the ball low enough to the ground to become a consistent blocker.

My best guess is that Taylor becomes a hybrid TE/slot WR, who primarily lines up in the slot but can motion down as a TE/H-Back as well. I don’t mean my questions about where he plays as any slight towards him; he undoubtedly has the athletic ability to be successful somewhere. That’s for the coaches to figure out. I’d guess he takes a redshirt year for the coaches to move him around until they find the perfect fit. He will be one to watch in the future.

Marje Smith

6-6, 205 lbs. Defensive Line. Marshall, TX.

So, this is the second recruiting class we’ve seen for Rhule, and it is eminently clear what he looks for in DL: big, athletic guys, and he doesn’t care how raw you are. He’s gonna rely on Elijah Robinson to mold you into a good DL. Ian Boyd had a good recap of what Rhule looks for in his scheme, “Rhule plays a single-gap defense that could be called a 3-4 but really operates like a 4-3 and just happens to utilize versatile DE/OLB types on either side to allow for some flexibility with blitzing. On the inside Temple was known for playing really sturdy but also really versatile DTs like Matt Ioannidis who was an absolute stud. They need versatile guys to play on the outside, some guys that can hold the point of attack inside, and ideally a guy that can do some damage inside in the pass-rush.”

Marje is a bit like BJ Thompson from last year, in that he is probably never gonna get much bigger than 250 or so, which allows him to preserve his athleticism in order to be multiple. Smith is obviously long and lean, and played played a lot of WR in high school. He shows good explosiveness and fight to get after the QB. Rhule and Co. clearly saw a highlt athletic starter-kit in Smith, and I agree with them. Smith is disruptive, getting into the backfield, batting down passes, etc.

I think Smith plays defensive end for Baylor, opposite the Rush-End. He’ll redshirt, hopefully pack on a few pounds, and hopefully retain his unique athleticism for his size. Expect good things in the future for Smith. Baylor got a guy that fits their scheme well.