Baylor Sticks To Its Script (Again)
Back in the day, I wrote an article about how Rhule and his staff were doubling down on their recruiting strategy: elite athletes who may or may not have great high school tape. As a staff, they trusted themselves to develop that talent into high level football players. In large part I think this strategy proved itself to work well, though some will point to issues on the OL which I think had as much to do with what Rhule inherited vs who he recruited.
Anyway, on to Aranda and his staff. Last year, integral member of the recruiting staff James Blanchard was wooed by the Carolina Panthers to become a member of their scouting staff. After some changes at the top of their organization, Aranda was able to get Blanchard back and he now is the “Assistant AD for scouting.” Basically, Blanchard’s job is to identify and evaluate potential prospects for Baylor to offer and sign. He also is frequently the first contact point for many of these guys, they almost always mention him when talking about their relationship with Baylor.
Blanchard has a catch-phrase, “See a stud, offer a stud.” Back before he was hired by Baylor, he would publicly vouch for under-recruited players whom he felt were being neglected for one reason or another, which is why his match with Rhule was always interesting as Rhule cared relatively less about a prospect’s film. They created a great pairing, though, because Blanchard put in a ton of the legwork to find diamonds in the rough that also happened to be great athletes. Guys like freshman safety Chateau Reed are about as freaky of athletes as you will find at the D1 level, and Reed didn’t even have a recruiting profile when he committed to Baylor.
With Blanchard’s return to Baylor this Winter, we all could figure that some more offers would go out to guys “out of left field,” so to speak. I can’t speak with any personal information on whether any of these guys were Blanchard guys vs the other guys, such as Brian Nance or Vince Guinta, who are also involved in scouting. My talking about Blanchard here is more about an overall trend that we should expect to see with the class as a whole.
The first of these “out of left field” guys to commit was OL Coleton Price out of the tiny Bowie, TX.
Blessed to have this opportunity! Gonna be a Baylor Bear I’d like to thank @BUFootball @jkbtjc_53 @AKing_Evals @coachsand_oval @CoryMandrell @_price_t @KregerJoshua @simplyCoachO @Lory39392745 @Hunterw70097225 for everything! pic.twitter.com/7uQC35a0jC— Coleton Price (@PriceColeton) February 20, 2021
Currently unranked and with no other offers, Price is a GREAT OL prospect who demonstrates great athleticism and is already pretty big for a high school junior.
Just watched newest Baylor commit Coleton Price. Great prospect. I understand the comparison to Tate W. is natural, but he's no Tate athletically or off the ball (Tate is just that good, no slight to Cole). Really good body control, power, awareness. https://t.co/mTlhKXdRdV— Travis (@Travis_Roeder) February 20, 2021
Next, they received a commitment from Kelsey Johnson out of Red Oak, TX. Johnson is a terrific H-back prospect who has demonstrated he’s willing to do the dirty work on a down to down basis. He’s versatile and will move all over the field.
I'm a fan of new Baylor commit Kelsey Johnson. Was just messaging with a friend that I like him more than OU commit Llewellyn. He's a good mix of high floor with upside. Very versatile H back.— Travis (@Travis_Roeder) February 21, 2021
And Just yesterday, they received another TE commit from Cody Mladenka out of The Wodlands, TX. He’s a very interesting prospect because he doesn’t necessarily scream “athlete” immediately on film, but the more you watch the more you realize he is pretty fast and quick for his size. He’s shown that he can make some good concentration catches and has the size to be a true in-line TE who can block DEs on a regular basis.
All of these guys are currently pretty lightly regarded by recruiting services, but they’re exactly the kind of guys Baylor needs to build their program. They’re athletic, versatile, and have good game tape. To different degrees I’m fans of all of these guys and think they were all worthy takes in this class. Baylor needs to keep honing their vision and finding guys who fit it. Price as an interior OL and Johnson and Mladenka at TE all fit the mold of the “reliably violent offense.” I’m excited for this coherent identity on offense and seeing how they continue to build towards it.