In the quirky world of college football recruiting, it has become all the rage to, if possible, get your high school players in a semester early. That way they get to practice with the team through the spring and summer without starting their eligibility clocks, giving you basically an extra semester of time at no cost except that to the player of having to forgo the last semester of their high school year. Baylor head coach Art Briles is particularly fond of doing this with quarterbacks; Robert Griffin III started the trend when he enrolled in January 2008 to participate in spring football and track, Bryce Petty continued it through a roundabout way by greyshirting his first year on campus, and Chris Johnson followed in RGIII's footsteps a year ago before redshirting this season. He'll now go through his second spring in Briles' system. Petty will be in his fifth! Aside from this additional schooling at the feet of the master, the benefits of the early enrollee approach show in terms of time spent with the strength and conditioning staff. Since ours is recognized as one of the best, you can imagine why we are so fond of bringing kids in early (with respect to high school recruits) or quickly (JUCOs).
That said, even though we've clearly enjoyed the practice over the last couple of years, we've never done it quite like this. Baylor brought in 7 players, 4 JUCO and 3 early HS graduates, for January enrollment. That is our highest number ever. 2 other players rumored to be on their way -- a greyshirt from the 2013 recruiting class and another early HS graduate -- didn't make it. We'll start with the JUCOs.
OL Jarell Broxton (HUDL)-- Broxton, the newly-minted JUCO All-American, actually has one of my favorite stories of the 2014 class. Baylor was in Scranton, Pennsylvania to scout Broxton's teammate, the highly-touted Jermaine Eluemenor, when the staff discovered Broxton. Baylor was the first team to offer him, I believe, and has since been joined by the likes of UCLA, Arizona State, and Wisconsin. Broxton eventually chose to be a Bear rather than a Badger in July, and I would expect for Broxton to compete for the left guard spot (or right, should they move Desmine Hilliard for whatever reason) vacated by All-American Cyril Richardson.
I believe Mr. Broxton (Jarell's father) has frequented the board here a time or two.
CB Chris Sanders (HUDL) -- Sanders was the first of Baylor's three JUCO commitments in December, and I talked a bit about his past in the post following that commitment. Suffice to say that it would appear Baylor is taking on a bit of a risk with him, but the staff is apparently confident that his issues have been resolved positively. I've seen a few Baylor fans question why we continue to take players with relatively checkered pasts, and my response is the same as it ever was: "Why not?" Are we somehow above accepting flawed individuals into the fold? If Sanders can help the football team while recognizing that his leash is understandably shorter than others who come in without the question marks, what's the problem here? He should compete for a starting spot opposite Xavien Howard at corner and have two seasons to play two at Baylor.
CB Tion Wright (HUDL) -- Wright, hailing originally from Amarillo, Texas before ending up at Moorpark College, was the second of the JUCO 3. It could be viewed as a positive that we know relatively little about him when compared to Sanders. He's listed at 5-9, 180 pounds, right in the Joe Williams sweetspot for a Phil Bennett corner. Wright is somewhat unique in that he has, as a full qualifier out of high school, three years of eligibility remaining at Baylor. That makes immediate playing time less of a factor and gives him more time to work with Coach Kaz and company. He could potentially redshirt, though that is probably unlikely at this point. If his speed is truly in the 4.4s or below, as HUDL has him listed, Baylor may have gotten a tremendous steal here in Wright.
LB Grant Campbell (HUDL) -- After watching the film, I actually can't figure out if Baylor would be better-suited to put Campbell, who seems to play mostly MLB for his JUCO team, in the middle and move Bryce Hager or let him replace Lackey entirely. Which way they go will probably be motivated by Campbell's speed, and that's hard (for me, at least) to judge entirely from the film. Regardless, I think Baylor found a true gem here in Campbell. With our apparent unease at playing any of the younger guys in either Lackey's or Hager's spot after the latter went down earlier this season, it would appear that Campbell will get the opportunity for immediate playing time somewhere.
2014 HS Recruits:
TE Jordan Feuerbacher (HUDL) -- Aside from having one of my favorite names in the class, Feuerbacher comes in at basically our only position of tremendous need on the offense: tight end. Both of our starters, Jerod Monk and Jordan Najvar, graduated this year, leaving a spot where we have 2013 JUCO recruit Gus Penning, converted tackle Tra'von Armstead, and ... that's it. Due to his size, Feuerbacher may arrive in January and already be the most well-rounded of the three potential options at the position this spring.
RB Terence Williams (HUDL) -- The next in an increasingly long line of bruising Baylor tailbacks, Williams is actually our third-best recruit (in terms of rankings) according to 247's composite ranking system. Whether he redshirts coming year could depend on a few things, including whether the coaching staff thinks Devin Chafin is ready to assume the "big back" role in the absence of Glasco Martin. After his commitment to Baylor, Williams was recruited hard by both Texas Tech and Texas A&M, taking at least two different trips to Lubbock during this past season.
ATH/WR Davion Hall (HUDL) -- Despite what his 247 profile now says, Hall was one of the first, if not the first, commitments in Baylor's 2014 class. Most of the premier schools in this part of the country have offered the 4* recruit, including Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, and Texas. Those that haven't offered would probably still take him if they thought he had a chance. Hall's recruitment has been exciting (to say it positively) to follow as he has flirted with both Alabama and A&M, and rumors persisted for a while that he might switch to one or the other. He has not, and he is supposedly on-schedule to enroll at Baylor in January. At least he was the last time we heard anything about it. Hall will get the chance to play WR for Art Briles, and together with K.D. Cannon, Chris Platt, and Ishmael Zamora, makes up arguably the best WR class in the country. I can understand, however, why many might want to see him on the defensive side of the ball, where he was/is being recruited by Nick Saban and Alabama.
UPDATE: After a late recruiting period that saw him almost switch to A&M while rumors swirled of Briles' imminent departure, Hall enrolled at Baylor and is now definitely a Bear.
The seven players above -- Broxton, Campbell, Sanders, Wright, Feuerbacher, Williams, and Hall-- make up Baylor's midterm enrollee class. There were three others we anticipated would come in for January who either didn't make it or were already here. The two that didn't make it first:
Didn't Make It:
OLB Cordell Dorsey (HUDL) -- Whether, in the aftermath of very serious criminal allegations against him that may or may not have been dropped, Dorsey makes it to Baylor in January is anyone's guess. He appears to be planning to on twitter, at least. NCAA rules prevent Baylor from commenting on Dorsey in any way before he signs with the school officially, but I have to believe that if he weren't considered part of the recruiting class anymore, we'd know about it. Dorsey is a 3* OLB that will likely take a redshirt in 2014 while gaining strength and speed in Kaz's system.
UPDATE: Mr. Dorsey did not make it in for the January break. His status is up in the air, but I'm going to keep him in this post for people looking for more information.
ATH/CB Wesley Harris -- You may recall Mr. Harris from the fact that he played QB in high school on the same team as one Robbie Rhodes, 2013's 5* WR recruit that battled injuries through most of this season but flashed all of the qualities that earned him his lofty rankings. The contemporary reports from his signing this past February suggested that Harris would ultimately switch positions in college, probably to the defensive secondary a la Terrance Singleton, aka "Freaky T." I haven't heard anything about Harris in some time, but the plan was for this 2013 grayshirt to enroll this January and begin his Baylor career.
UPDATE: Harris did not enroll in January with the rumored reason being his grades. It is unclear if he will have a spot at Baylor going forward.
Was Already Here:
There was, at one point, speculation that kicker Chris Callahan would also greyshirt and join Harris as a scholarship player next month. Judging by his presence on the 2013 roster, that apparently did not happen. My guess is that he redshirted this year and will take over the kicking duties next season. Honestly, that makes more sense than greyshirting him, anyway, since you will probably need him in 2014.
So there they are, our 7 new Baylor Bears. Of the JUCOs, I am particularly excited by Broxton and Campbell, and of the HS players, I am most interested to see what Feuerbacher and Hall can do this spring to warrant playing time in the Fall.
Even counting these guys back, as you can do for purposes of managing scholarships, it really seems like with our latest JUCO commitments, Baylor is probably done or close to it for the 2014 class. Should someone like Solomon Thomas, the 4* DE, want a spot, he'd probably get one. But for the most part, with the dead period now upon us, the class is what it will probably be. January will be spent getting the 2015 class going and keeping our unsigned 2014s in the fold.
- 12.17.2013 Daily Bears Report: It's Raining JUCOs!
- OurDailyPodcast Episode 27: Basketball on the Podcast!
- Baylor pulls trio of JUCO defenders for 2014 in Chris Sanders, Tion Wright, and Grant Campbell
- QUARTERFINALS -- 2013 Nick Pants Gifpocalypse
- The 2-3 Zone: Thankful for Transfers and Player Ranks