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Reviewing Baylor’s Week One Starters

There’s a lot of new names for Baylor fans to learn.

NCAA Football: Big 12 Football Media Days Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today, Baylor Football released their first official depth chart of the season. Mark already published the full depth chart and his immediate reactions, and I think he’s exactly right with what was expected and surprising given Aranda’s comments throughout the offseason. The following is a more detailed post with brief statistics for every player listed as a starter. Post any questions you have in the comments below!



#12 Blake Shapen: Baylor’s starting quarterback from last season, Blake Shapen, beat out transfer quarterback Sawyer Robinson for the honors of leading the Bear’s offense in 2023. The redshirt junior played in all thirteen games last season, accumulating 2,790 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions with a 63% completion rate. With a more experienced receiving room and a full year of starts under his belt, it’s safe to say that Baylor fans have much higher aspirations for the Louisiana native going forward.

Wide Receiver

#11 Ketron Jackson Jr.: Last year, Baylor relied almost solely on an inexperienced yet talented group of wide receivers already on the roster. This season, Aranda brought in outside reinforcements. Ketron Jackson Jr., a former 4-star high school recruit, played two seasons for the Arkansas Razorbacks before announcing his transfer to Baylor back in December. Jackson recorded only 16 receptions for 277 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2022, but his targets were limited by the dominance of two wide receivers now on NFL rosters. Expectations are high for the 6’3”, 208lb receiver, both inside and outside the team, and he’s the only starter without an “OR” next to his name.

#80 Monaray Baldwin: Following his explosive touchdown run in the Sugar Bowl two years ago, expectations were sky-high for the true freshman going into his second season. Baldwin did not disappoint. Despite getting injured in two different games and missing two full games, Baldwin led all receivers with 33 receptions, 565 yards, and 4 touchdowns. He also tacked on 71 rushing yards and a touchdown on 7 carries and returned 9 kickoffs for 147 yards. Perhaps his most impressive feat was registering a top speed of 22.8 MPH in-game, the fastest mark of any player according to Reel Analytics. Look for the 5’9” Junior from Killeen to continue to make highlights from the slot as one of the speediest players in college football.

#17 Jonah Burton: Preferred walk-on Jonah Burton must have had an impressive camp, as he’s made his way from playing in one game last season as a redshirt Freshman to fighting with Baldwin for a starting spot. Personally, I’d bet this is more about rewarding a player that has worked hard in the offseason as opposed to an indictment on Baldwin. Either way, it will be interesting to see how many reps Burton gets this week and if the playing time continues later into the season.

#16 Hal Presley: The second of Baylor’s two wide receivers to return as a starter, 6’2, 196lb junior Hal Presley hopes to build upon a promising showing from last season. Presley played in every game, racking up 382 yards and 4 touchdowns on 32 receptions (and a team-high 54 targets), but he never had more than 60 yards or 4 receptions in a single game. If Presley struggles to make a bigger impact to start the season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see former walk-on Josh Cameron taking the starting spot full-time.

#34 Josh Cameron: Speaking of Josh Cameron, the redshirt freshman was officially listed as a starter alongside Presley, though I anticipate Presley to get the first snap. Cameron is the bulkiest receiver on the team at 6’1, 215lbs and put his size to good use last season, racking up 28 receptions (fourth on the team) and 386 yards (third on the team). Notably, Cameron doesn’t have any career touchdowns, but I expect that to change very soon.

Tight End

#89 Drake Dabney: The graduation of Baylor’s former starting tight end, and one of Shapen’s top targets, Ben Sims, leaves a big hole for the team. Fortunately the Bears have an experienced replacement in Drake Dabney. Dabney is a true senior with 28 games played across three years, and he’s looking to bounce back after missing most of last season following a season-ending injury. The 6’5 tight end from Cypress, TX has 32 receptions for 321 yards and 3 touchdowns in his career, but he’ll need to almost double those numbers to match Ben Sims’ 2022 campaign.

Something to keep on eye on for Dabney is his run blocking. Pro Football Focus graded him as the worst run blocking tight end on the team last year, and his backup, Kelsey Johnson as the best (minimum 10 snaps). If Dabney can only be relied on in obvious passing situations, it will surely limit his snaps.

Running Back

#29 Richard Reese: True sophomore Richard Reese is a great example of what makes college football so unpredictable. Last August, we were hoping that the three-headed monster of Craig Williams, Taye McWilliams, and Qualan Jones could help Baylor repeat as one of the best rushing offenses in the country. By the end of the season, we were worried that we might lose the team’s actual leading rusher, Richard Reese, and his 972 yards (Baylor Freshman record) and 14 touchdowns (14th all-time at Baylor). The Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year will be the starter on day one, and the only thing that will hold him back from the 1,000 yard rushing mark is the success of Dominic Richardson. In the words of Deonte Epps, “BELLVILLE”.

#21 Dominic Richardson: With the aforementioned Williams, McWilliams, and Jones no longer on the team, Baylor needed to bring in an experienced back to play alongside Reese. Enter Dominic Richardson, a 6’1, 204lb junior transfer from Oklahoma State. Richardson led the Cowboys in 2022 with a respectable 543 yards and 9 touchdowns on 149 carries in only nine games. OSU head coach Mike Gundy described Richardson as, “more of a slasher; he’s going to drop his pads and try to run through somebody, then take off and go”.

Offensive Line

Before detailing any of the individual linemen, we need to recognize the following — Baylor lost 87% of its offensive line snaps from last season. Of the returning players, Gavin Byers leads the way with 547 snaps. No one else has 30.

#53 Campbell Barrington: Campbell and his older brother Clark both come to Baylor from BYU. The younger Barrington is a 6’6, 299lb Junior from Spokane who earned Freshman All-American honors back in 2021 after starting in six games for the Cougars. Last season, Campbell was a back-up for multiple offensive line positions before incurring a season-ending injury midway through the year. Pro Football Focus gave him a 79.9 run blocking grade and a 77.3 pass blocking grade in 2021; both compare favorably to Baylor’s former left tackle and Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year Connor Galvin.

#58 Gavin Byers: If all goes well, the lone returning starter for the Bears, Gavin Byers, could receive some post-season honors this spring. He’s bulked up a little (up to 318lbs from 310lbs in 2022), moved from RT to LG, and should be a leader in the locker room. His 74.4 overall rating as an OT from PFF in 2022 was in the top five of the conference among qualifying players. In addition, Byers allowed only one sack and 9 QB hurries while committing only two penalties in his 547 snaps. That’s the kind of consistency we should expect from a senior linemen with over 1,000 career snaps.

#56 Clark Barrington: Better late than never, Clark announced he was transferring to Baylor nine days after his young brother did. The 6’5, 306lb fifth-year senior and All-American started 37 consecutive games for BYU, mostly at left guard. Per Pro Football Focus, he’s an excellent pass blocker, scoring over 85 in his last two seasons. The only Baylor player to come close to that last season was Khalil Keith (81.8). Something to keep an eye on is how well Clark does at center, a position he’s never played before in college. For now we’ll just have to trust Mateos that Clark’s the best man for the job.

#74 Kaden Sieracki: Sieracki makes his first collegiate start after redshirting all of least season. The 6’8, 318lb guard from The Woodlands was a consensus three-star recruit coming out of high school. Yes, I said 6’8. Kaden is the tallest player on the team, and he looks like it. It’s impressive that Sieracki has wrestled control of the starting guard spot from Tate Williams.

#75 Elijah Ellis: One of the last Matt Rhule recruits still at Baylor, redshirt senior Elijah Ellis is posed to make his first start this weekend. The 6’6, 307lb linemen from Paris, TX has played in four games for the Bears over his career. Is this finally the season where everything clicks? With strong competition from Tate Williams (currently listed as a co-starter for the left guard tackle), we should have an answer pretty soon.

#77 Tate Williams: RS sophomore Tate Williams played a handful of snaps last season with the vast majority coming in Week 1 against Albany. You’d expect a P5 starter to handle an opponent like Albany easily, and that’s what Williams did. Williams is competing with Elijah Ellis for the starting right tackle position, though he was at right guard for a lot of the offseason. If I had to guess, Williams being at tackle is about getting the best five guys on the field, and Sieracki is too good to keep off.


Defensive Line

#9 TJ Franklin: Fifth-year senior TJ Franklin returns as one of Baylor’s starting defensive ends. With 45 games under his belt, including 18 starts, Franklin is the most experienced player on the defensive line. Last season, Franklin was Baylor’s most consistent threat to generate pressure, tallying 35 total pressures per PFF (team high). Unfortunately, those pressures only resulted in two sacks. If Baylor is going to have a better defense this year, it will begin with the 6’5, 269lb Temple native converting more of those pressures into actual sacks and TFLs. For what it’s worth, Franklin had 27 pressures and 4 sacks in 2021.

#98 Jerrell Boykins Jr.: Jerrell Boykins Jr is not currently listed on the depth chart due to injury; however, he is slated to be the starting nose tackle upon his return. The 6’4, 330lb redshirt sophomore transferred from Hutchinson College (NJCAA) and has the tall task of replacing current NFL DT and Baylor fan favorite, Siaki Ika.

#97 Cooper Lanz OR #48 Teven Ma’ae: Lanz and Ma’ae are backing up Boykins at nose tackle and sharing the starting job against Texas State. Lanz is a redshirt sophomore and played in all but one game last season (mostly on special teams). Ma’ae is a redshirt junior that transferred to Baylor after four years at Oregon. While up north in 2022, Ma’ae registered 12 tackles, two TFLs, and one sack.

#95 Gabe Hall: Like his fellow defensive end, redshirt senior Gabe Hall has been on the team for a while, playing in 35 games with 20 starts. The 6’6, 292lb lineman was second on the team in total pressures (26) and sacks (4), and he was “credited” with only one missed tackle all year per PFF. As with Franklin, Hall had a more productive season in 2021 than 2022, registering 34 pressures and 5 sacks. With a good showing in his final year, Hall will be Baylor’s highest rated draft pick in 2024.


#55 Garmon Randolph: 6’7 redshirt senior Garmon Randolph enters this year in the same role as he did last year listed as the backup JACK linebacker (I believe this has to do with an off-the-field issue from earlier this summer. I’m going to leave a blurb in for Randolph because I expect him to get the majority of playing time going forward, and the information on him could be helpful). Primarily used as a pass rusher, Randolph led the team in 2022 with 5 sacks, but his sure-tackling makes him a reliable run defender, too. He was second on the team in PFF’s tackling rating, behind only Devyn Bobby, with two missed tackles. Randolph isn’t asked to drop back into coverage very often — in 59 coverage snaps, he was targeted only 7 times.

#51 Kyler Jordan: Manning the starting JACK linebacker position is redshirt freshman Kyler Jordan. The 6’1, 235lb native of Lubbock played in three games last season and registered one tackle. OLB coach Caleb Collins had a lot of positive things to say about Jordan coming out of the Spring — “Kyler’s going to go home, he’s going to watch the tape, he’s going to study his playbook...He’s just playing ‘green,’ and I think that’s what puts him in a position to have success...He’s like, ‘I looked at this last night, I’m good. I’m just ready to play football and have fun.’ He’s a smart guy, and he’s going to put in the work on the front end.” Congratulations to Jordan who earned the role above some older talent on the roster.

#2 Matt Jones: This might get confusing — Matt Jones primarily played in the JACK position in 2021 before moving over to WILL in 2022. After starting almost every game in that role, he’s now been moved over to MIKE. To add to the confusion, Mike Smith Jr. will be playing WILL (not to mention we have two “Will”s also in the LB room in Will Garner and Will Williams). There’s a lot to look forward to for the 6’3, 251lb redshirt senior out of Odessa. His 51 tackles were third on the team and most among all returning players. He also had 3 sacks and 13 QV pressures. Hopefully the move to MIKE will help his pass coverage responsibilities, as his PFF grade of 52.1 was third lowest on the team.

#40 Mike Smith Jr.: The second newcomer on the defense, Mike Smith Jr. comes to Baylor from Liberty where he started 12 games and was first on the team with 85 tackles. Before that, Smith played three years at Mississippi Gulf Coast. When he first arrived in Waco, the 6’1, 231lb Senior was playing middle linebacker, but he’s swapped with Jones for the weakside. Smith also grades better than Jones in pass coverage, earning a 70.3 coverage grade on PFF. In 2022, he allowed 16 receptions on 25 targets for a respectable 4.6 yards per reception. Something to keep an eye on is his tackling; Smith had a 17% missed tackle rate while at Liberty.

#7 Bryson Jackson: Seventh year senior Bryson Jackson has been around the team longer than anyone else. Last year he backed up Randolph at JACK and recorded 3 sacks, 18 total hurries, and 12 tackles on 240 snaps. This year, he’ll be sharing the STAR position, a hybrid LB/S role that Jalen Pitre held two years ago. If Jackson is able to earn a majority of reps, it’s not unreasonable that he could quadruple his career tackle count in his final season.

#24 Corey Gordon Jr.: It’s not often that a three-star redshirt freshman with only two games of experience earns a co-starting nod with a six-year veteran, but here we are! At 6’2, 191lbs, Gordon is 18 pounds lighter than Jackson, but there’s something about him that the coaching staff trusts. In a recent press conference, Aranda said that Gordon “can cover man-to-man, he can blitz, he can set edges”, and Aranda’s “way appreciative of [Gordon’s] `want to’ with all of it”.


#27 Tevin Williams III: Tevin Williams III enrolled at Baylor in 2021 as a high three-star recruit from Stillwater, Oklahoma where he set the state record with a 10.20 100 meter dash. Last season, the 6’0, 188 redshirt sophomore appeared in all but one game and had meaningful playing time at corner. In 52 snaps in coverage, Williams was targeted six times and allowed two receptions for 29 yards. He secured his first career interception against Texas Tech in week nine.

#21 Chateau Reed: Redshirt junior Chateau Reed has been with the program since 2020 and struggled to find the field. Per PFF, Reed has dropped back in coverage only 21 times, been targeted twice, and allowed one reception for 10 yards. That said, Baylor was Reed’s only DI offer coming out of high school, so the coaches probably always thought of him as an unpolished player with high potential for the future. Well, the future is now. At 6’2, 194lbs, Reed is slightly larger than the average corner, and his “around 4.5” 40-yard dash in high school should be good enough. Furthermore, with experience playing WR in high school, Reed should be primed to play solid press coverage at corner.


#20 Devin Lemear: Redshirt sophomore Devin Lemear is the only returning starter of Baylor’s safeties. The 5’11, 187lb safety from Manor, TX started in all 13 games last season and received All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors in his first full season. Looking at his stats, it’s no wonder why. Lemear had two interceptions, four pass breakups, and one forced fumble. His 47 tackles were fourth on the team. Finally, PFF graded him as the third-best defensive player for Baylor and second-best man in coverage. One thing that held Lemear back was his 12 missed tackles; hopefully a season of experience helps bring that number down.

#28 Devyn Bobby: Senior Christian Morgan graduated, and his back-up Devin Neal transferred to Louisville. In their place is the 5’10, 186 true sophomore from Desoto, TX, Devyn Bobby. Bobby played sparingly throughout last season, all in a reserve role, but he’s won the starting role in 2023 over fellow sophomore Alfonzo Allen.

Special Teams


#98 Isaiah Hankins: Redshirt sophomore Isaiah Hankins is listed as the co-starter for both field goals and kickoffs along with Jack Stone, though in all likelihood one will handle each. Hankins was a perfect 57/57 on PATs in 2021 but only 8 for 9 in 2022. On field goals, Hankins was 14 for 20 with a career long of 48 yards, but he only attempted (and missed) one last season. John Mayers isn’t on the roster anymore, so Hankins will need to return to his 2021 version! Also worth noting, Hankins has only one career kickoff to his name, a touchback in 2021.

#99 Jack Stone: Michigan State transfer Jack Stone joins Baylor for his sophomore year. In East Lansing, Stone was 15/16 on PATs and 2/4 on field goals with a long of 51 yards. Stone had more opportunities on kickoffs than FGs, with 53 total kickoffs yielding 13 touchbacks. If I had to guess, Stone will handle kickoffs and long FGAs for Baylor.


#94 Palmer Williams: True freshman Palmer Williams was the fourth best punter coming out of high school according to 247, and Baylor got him! In an ideal world, Williams gets to redshirt because we go 15 games without a single punt...but there’s practically no chance of that. As a high school senior, Williams averaged 43.6 yards per punt.

Statistics courtesy of NCAA, ESPN, Pro Football Focus, and Baylor University