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Evaluations of the Newest Football Signees, Final Edition

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

Welcome to the final edition of my recap of Baylor’s newest football signees. As I’ve said previously, I don’t subscribe to any recruiting services, I just watch the highlights and do my best to give everyone an idea of what these guys will bring to the table.

Please feel free to comment with your own opinions, tell me where you think I’m wrong, etc. At the end of this piece, I list my top 6 guy in this class, along with the most underrated guy.

Thanks for reading, everyone.

Kalon Barnes

5-11, 175 lbs. Athlete. Silsbee, TX.

4.67 forty, 31 vertical, 31.5 powerthrow. 10.22 100m. 21.33 200m.

Barnes is uh, err, really fast. His 10.22 100m time is absolutely ridiculous. KD Cannon was 10.32. Grayland Arnold 10.62. His acceleration isn’t elite, but once he gets to about 10 yards, nobody is going to catch him. I was burned with Arnold before, when I didn’t believe the deep speed. But I’ve come to learn that a lot of these tall, grassy fields that guys in the 409 play on are incomparable to the fast-track turfs bigger high schools play on. You can even tell in the few games where Barnes play on turf, he looks incredibly fast.

His film is a nice mix of him playing WR and CB. I actually think he has more upside on defense, but he could play either way or both ways. On offense he shows good ability to track the ball on deep throws along with a good ability to find the seam to get upfield. On defense he can stick with WRs, and make plays on balls in the air.

I think Barnes’ upside is on defense. He would be a good college WR no doubt, with his ability to beat you deep and good hands, but I am guessing Rhule is going to sell him on having NFL ability at CB. It’s just so hard to make the NFL as a WR unless you are over 6 feet tall. When you’re under 6 feet, you need to have Corey Coleman or Kendall Wright-like ability to make guys miss in short spaces. A guy like Josh Fleeks has that ability, as well. Barnes may, but I don’t see a lot of it on film. On defense, however, he shows good short area quickness. With his size, speed, and ball skills, he is a perfect fit at CB.

Both CB and WR are pretty stacked at this point, so i’d be surprised if he didn’t redshirt. My guess is the coaches will use the first year to determine where he will play. Barnes is a really good player either way—with his elite speed he has a high probability of becoming a great player. His page shows offers from Texas, Georgia, TCU, A&M, etc. He clearly was sought after. Impressive for the Baylor coaches to grab him.

Ylijaah Hall

6-5 293 lbs. OL. Bryan, TX.

SPARQ: 5.41 forty, 4.96 shuttle, 23.6 vertical, 38 powerball.

Hall is a bit of a tough eval because he doesn’t have too much tape available. He committed to Baylor very early in the process, and a lot of the time when guys are solid on their commitment they don’t feel the need to make long highlight reels.

For his size, those are actually rather good testing results. That is pretty clear from Hall’s tape as well. He is an above-average athlete on the OL. His wearing the #75, his size, and the power he plays with are somewhat reminiscent of Andrew Billings’ high school tape. Hall is taller, of course, but both play with a lot of power. He is really good at reaching linebackers at the second level, maintaining good balance when he engages.

Coach Rhule stated that he wanted to get a bunch of guys who can stay at Tackle in this class, and I think they got that in Hall. He is a surprisingly good athlete for his size and plays with a lot power. Of course, to stay at tackle, he will have to show that he is proficient at pass blocking. In many respects, I think that Hall and fellow signee Casey Phillips are rather similar: big, athletic, powerful OL who are relatively raw in their technique.

Baylor got a good starter kit in Hall. Expect a redshirt and then the sky is the limit. I think Hall is my second favorite high school OL in this class (after Galvin).

Josh Landry

6-3 255 lbs. DL. Houston, TX.

SPARQ: 5.09 forty, 4.5 shuttle, 25.8 vertical, 46 powerthrow.

Landry somewhat surprised me in his development. When I first watched his Junior film after he committed, he looked like a nose-tackle or 3 technique starter kit, a lot like former Lamar standout Ira Lewis. But unlike Lewis, who went from a 240 lb Senior to a 290 lb Nose tackle at Baylor, Landry looks like his gonna stick around his 260 lb range. He’s built a lot like current Baylor DE James Lockhart.

In Landry’s junior film, he plays a lot of interior 3 technique, but as a senior Lamar starter using him more as a standup edge rusher, and he was pretty good at it. He shows all the quick-twitch abilities you want in an edge rusher, with good bend to get around lineman along with good raw power to push through them. In particular, he shows a great motor, both in the backfield and chasing guys downfield.

Rhule said that Landry was a guy they identified early on as “a guy we just had to have.” I think the motor that Landry plays with is a huge part of what Rhule looks for. An interesting aspect of Landry is that Rhule and co. have shown their hand for what they’re looking for in DL: almost every guy that Baylor has signed in the past 2 years has been 6’4+. The fact that they went all in for Landry despite his 6’3 height (real diminutive, I know) shows that they think Landry is a high-impact player.

Landry is a high-floor guy. I think he eventually ends up as a starter worst. Baylor is in really good shape at DL right now with a ton of uperclassmen, otherwise I think Landry would contribute early. I expect that Landry will play DE in the 3 down alignment and 3-technique in the 4 down alignment (like James Lynch did this past year). Reassuring for myself, I found a quote from Rhule where he said as much in a press conference, “He’s a guy that’s similar to James Lynch, we thought James was going to come in a redshirt but made some plays and became a Freshman All-American. Josh can come in and be a defensive end or a defensive tackle.”

Princeton Pines

6-5, 340 lbs. OL. Baton Rouge, LA.

Princeton is a guy who according to Rhule earned a scholarship after a camp where he really impressed OL coach DeLeone. He’s a bit different than the rest of the guys Baylor took in that he is absolutely massive. However, like fellow signee JohnCarlo Valentin, Baylor isn’t interested in their raw weight, they are interested in the quickness and ability to find people on the move. Pines is surprisingly nimble for his size. I expect Baylor will want him to lose a fair amount of weight so that he can parlay his quickness into even more of an advantage.

Pines is a good pulling lineman, and if he plays OT he would be a good candidate to use on DART and other tackle-pulling plays. However, despite Rhule saying he wants OL to stay at OT as long as possible, I think it is more or less a foregone conclusion that Pines will play Guard. He just has the look of one of those guys who is too naturally huge to stay outside. I don’t think he could get down to the 290-300 lb range necessary. Somebody has to play Guard, after all, and Pines will be a great fit there. ]

Pines will definitely redshirt and then compete for playing time as a Guard.

Mark Milton

6-1, 175 lbs. Cornerback. Houston, TX.

SPARQ: 4.48 forty, 4.40 shuttle, 33.5 vertical, 29 powerthrow.

Milton is a pure upside take. Coach Rhule said he is a “pure corner oozing with upside,” which I think is exactly right. Milton shuffled around in high school, playing a mix of WR, Safety, and CB. He’s obviously very fast and quick enough. Long, lean, and with speed, like a lot of other athletes Baylor has taken.

CB is a really tough position to play early. There just isn’t a lot of tape of Milton playing corner, so it is hard to know how ready he is. My sense is that he is a few years away from starting, because he is going to have a lot of technique to learn. He has all the physical tools necessary to play the position, it is just a matter of him putting it all together (notice a theme in this class?).

Rhule recently stated in an interview that his staff’s goal is to find as many athletes as possible, and put the development in their hands. They don’t care about how ready you are to play out of high school. Milton is a great example of that. He’s a guy who we’ll check in on in a few years and might come out of nowhere.

Johncarlo Valentin

6-5, 330 lbs. OL. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

So I’ve already noticed a misconception with most Baylor sites covering the commitment of Valentin: everyone has looked at his weight and assumed he is some sort of massive-mauler who is a bully in the trenches (they’ve also tended to do this with Princeton Pines). The tape tells a different story. Valentin is a nimble OL who can really move, but just happens to be big. His biggest asset isn’t his ability to maul in the trenches, but instead to target defenders on the move and use his massive frame to block them out of the play (notice a trend with the OL has taken?).

Anyway, what most places are getting correct is that Valentin is an instant impact. He looks like a starter at RT to me. Maybe he plays guard out of necessity since Baylor has several leaner tackle-types (Pat Lawrence, Josh Malin), but I think his ability is maximized at RT. He’s quick, big, and can execute almost any scheme you want. As these more athletic OL start playing for Baylor, I think you’re going to start seeing a lot more counter and trap schemes that rely on OL quickness.

Instant impact is right. Valentin starts immediately, barring injury or some other setback.

Well, we have reached the end. I suppose I will end with my personal top 6 guys in this class (leaving out Valentin, he’s on another level as a JUCO guy). I would love to hear what y’all think.

Top 6:

  1. Tyquan Thornton. I think he is Denzel Mims with better short area quickness and hands (I saw another site compared him to Tevin Reese. I strongly disagree). Great hands, speed, etc. The sky is the limit.
  2. Connor Galvin. No clue why this guy wasn’t rated much higher. Best OL Baylor has taken in a while.
  3. Gerry Bohanon. Along with his fantastic physical upside, he’s a great leader. Being a great QB always starts with mental toughness, character, etc. He has it all.
  4. Josh Fleeks. An extremely high floor mixed with great athleticism. He’ll be a chain-mover in the slot or at RB for years.
  5. Craig Williams. High, high upside. Special ability to make defenders miss in short spaces.
  6. JT Woods. All the makeup of a future star at FS. Speed, size, and intelligence.

Most Underrated: Ben Sims. If he isn’t starting as a true freshman, it won’t be long. At his size, he has significant NFL upside as well.