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Way-Too-Early 2015 Baylor Depth Charts (2/23)

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The 2014/15 Baylor Football season has come to a close and with it, the careers of many outstanding Baylor players, the loss of whom will be dearly felt. But we can take a look now at how things might look when the Bears take the field again.

We've got an opening at WR with Goodley's graduation, and there's a big body waiting to fill it...
We've got an opening at WR with Goodley's graduation, and there's a big body waiting to fill it...
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Because of the way formatting works on SB Nation's platform and my own limitations in HTML editing, I don't have a clean, easy way of doing what I want to do in this post. The point here was to determine what we're losing and how we might (key word: might) replace those losses.

The first chart in each situation shows things as they were going into yesterday's game. Because of injuries, that's a bit deceptive in a couple of places we'll talk about below. Seniors leaving to graduation are blocked in red. I'm including here guys that have said they will return, so we don't have anybody from these charts likely to leave early to my knowledge.

The second chart shows the potential depth chart for the beginning of the 2015-2016 season. This is going to involve a tremendous amount of speculation, some reasoned guesses, and, I hope, a lot of collaboration from the community.

NOTE: I'm pulling the existing 2-deep from the Cotton Bowl Media Guide, so if you have any problems with it, sorry.

NOTE #2: The "Guys to Watch" sections will be dedicated to younger players not on the 2-deep now that may make their way in over the coming season.  We don't have a great way to know who they will be, so it's entirely speculation based on practice reports, rumors, and the like.

Baylor Offense

2014-2015:

FIRST TEAM SECOND TEAM
QB 14 Bryce Petty (SR) 17 Seth Russell (SO)
RB 32 Rashodrick Linwood (SO) 2 Johnny Jefferson (RS-FR)
UB 8 Devin Chafin (SO) 22 Terence Williams (FR)
WR 5 Antwan Goodley (SR)
16 Davion Hall (FR)
IR 16 Levi Norwood (SR)
7 Lynx Hawthorne (SO)
IR 9
K.D. Cannon (FR)
23 Clay Fuller (SR)
WR 4
1
Jay Lee (JR) OR
Corey Coleman (SO)
80 LaQuan McGowan (JR)
TE

41

Tre'Von Armstead (SO) 15 Gus Penning (JR)
LT 58 Spencer Drango (JR)
57 Tanner Thrift (RS-FR)
LG 73 Blake Muir (JR)
80 LaQuan McGowan (JR)
C 55 Kyle Fuller (SO)
62 Tyler Edwards (SR)
RG 61 Jarell Broxton (JR) 67 Desmine Hilliard (JR)
RT 69 Pat Colbert (JR)
76 Jason Osei (SO)

It'd be splitting hairs to do it this way, but if we're being honest with each other, Levi Norwood wasn't one of our two best IRs by the end of this season (counting Coleman as an IR).  I'm tempted to say we're really just losing 2 starters from this offense and leave it at that.  In any event, both of our 1,000-yard receivers from this season (Coleman and Cannon) return along with the entire 2-deep on the offensive line save Edwards, who actually started yesterday at LG with Muir out due to illness.

Seniors Graduating: 5 | Starters Leaving: 3

2015-2016:

FIRST TEAM SECOND TEAM
QB 17 Seth Russell (JR) 13
--
Chris Johnson (SO)
Jarrett Stidham (FR)
RB 32 Rashodrick Linwood (JR) 2 Johnny Jefferson (SO)
UB 8 Devin Chafin (JR) 22 Terence Williams (RS-FR)
WR 9 K.D. Cannon (SO)
16 Davion Hall (SO)
IR 23
Chris Platt (RS-FR)
--
JaMycal Hasty (FR)

IR 5
Corey Coleman (JR) 7 Lynx Hawthorne (JR)
WR 4
Jay Lee (JR)
8
--
Ishmael Zamora (RS-FR)
Blake Lynch (FR)
TE

41

Tre'Von Armstead (JR) 15 Gus Penning (SR)
LT 58 Spencer Drango (SR)
--
57
Dominic Desouza (SO) OR
Tanner Thrift (SO)
LG 73 Blake Muir (SR)
80 LaQuan McGowan (JR)
C 55 Kyle Fuller (JR)
74 Sean Muir (SO)
RG 61
67
Jarell Broxton (SR) OR
Desmine Hilliard (JR)
52 Rami Hammad (SO)
RT 69 Pat Colbert (SR)
--
68
Maurice Porter (SO)
Ishmael Wilson (SO)

There's a considerable amount of continuity here beginning on the offensive line, as well as a few new faces sliding in behind.  The big question mark will obviously be at quarterback, where we should see quite the competition this spring between Seth Russell, the presumptive starter, Chris Johnson, this year's third string, and Jarrett Stidham, the 5* early enrollee.  How the receiving corps works out will be something to watch with extreme talents like Zamora and Lynch looking to work their way into a group dominated at this point by inside receivers.

I'm including a lot of freshmen here because it's possible that they find spots in the 2-deep while not actually burning their redshirts.

GUYS TO WATCH: OL Patrick Lawrence, Josh Pelzel, Blake Blackmar; TE Blake Mahon

Baylor Defense

2014-2015:

FIRST TEAM SECOND TEAM
RE 2 Shawn Oakman (JR)
15 Brian Nance (RS-Fr)
DT 95 Beau Blackshear (JR) 96
Byron Bonds (SO)
NG 75 Andrew Billings (SO)
90 Javonte Magee (SO)
LE 56
92
K.J. Smith (RS-FR) OR
Jamal Palmer
(JR)
90 Javonte Magee (SO)
WLB 11 Taylor Young (RS-FR)
20 Aiavion Edwards (SO)
MLB 44 Bryce Hager (SR)
5 Grant Campbell (JR)
NB 38 Collin Brence (SR)
48
Travon Blanchard (RS-FR)
CB 9
Ryan Reid (SO)
3 Tion Wright (SO)
DS 28 Orion Stewart (SO) 12
26
Alfred Pullom (RS-Fr) OR
Taion Sells (SO)
CS 13 Terrell Burt (JR)
18 Chance Waz (FR)
CB 18 Xavien Howard (SO)
24
Terrence Singleton (SO)

That's pretty, that is. Baylor will have to replace two senior LBs, one of whom has started parts or all of the last three years, but that's it.  We return the entire 2-deep in the secondary and on the defensive line, provided Oakman remains steadfast in his decision to stay.

Seniors Graduating: 2 | Starters Leaving: 2

2015-2016:

FIRST TEAM SECOND TEAM
RE 2 Shawn Oakman (SR)
15 Brian Nance (SO)
DT 95 Beau Blackshear (SR) 96
Byron Bonds (JR)
NG 75 Andrew Billings (JR)
90 Javonte Magee (JR)*
LE 56
92
K.J. Smith (SO) OR
Jamal Palmer
(SR)
99
52
Josh Malin (RS-FR) OR
Greg Roberts (RS-FR)
WLB 11
Taylor Young (SO)
45 Xavier Phillips (SO)
MLB 5
20

Grant Campbell (SR) OR
Aiavion Edwards (JR)

45
OR Xavier Phillips (SO)
NB 48 Travon Blanchard (SO)
21
17
Patrick Levels (JR) OR
Cordell Dorsey (RS-FR)
CB 9
Ryan Reid (JR)
3 Tion Wright (JR)
DS 28 Orion Stewart (JR) 12
26
Alfred Pullom (SO) OR
Taion Sells (JR)
CS 13 Terrell Burt (SR)
18 Chance Waz (SO)
CB 18 Xavien Howard (JR)
24
Terrence Singleton (JR)

*Not with the team for Spring 2015.  May yet return.

The only question mark I see at this point is the backup MLB, who might be Kendall Ehrlich (JR), Raaquan Davis (SO), Xavier Phillips (SO), Edwards (JR), or someone else entirely that we don't even know about yet (doubtful, but possible).  I'm also guessing a bit at backup LE, which will probably end up being the loser of the Palmer/Smith battle.  Altogether, there's a lot to like as our secondary and defensive line continue to gain experience, particularly the former.  All 4 of our much-maligned DBs (as if our DBs could be un-maligned) return with a full year of starting experience under their belt.  In Burt's case, he's got two and change.

Recognizing that we're losing one of the best MLBs we've ever had, I see a lot of potential here for a defense that will finish the 2015 season better than it began the 2015 calendar year yesterday.   Key to that will be the continued development of pure pass rushers like Smith, Palmer, and Nance.

GUYS TO WATCH: DE Xavier Jones, Jamie Jacobs; LB Raaquan Davis; CB Verkedric Vaughns, Jourdan Blake, J.W. Ketchum

*****

Off/preseason prognosticators often rely on the number of returning starters for a given year as a proxy for projecting how good a team might be, since it's an easy way to gauge experience and continuity.  If that holds in Baylor's case, we should be considered highly, since we lose a grand total of 5 starters out of 22, and I could easily argue it's actually 4.  Our complete offensive and defensive lines return along with our top 3 RBs, 3 of our top 4 WRs, and 2 of our top 3 tacklers (3 chosen because there's a big group around the #4 spot), as well as our entire 2-deep in the secondary.  If you're worried about our QB situation, think about it this way: going into his first starting game in 2013 against SMU, Bryce Petty had attempted 14 passes in his entire Baylor career.  Seth has attempted nearly 10 times that amount and 85 in this season alone.  He's not guaranteed to start, but if either of the other two beat him out, it's because they're really, really good.

Thoughts? Tell me where I went wrong. Seriously.