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Baylor Football Recruiting Needs and Way Too Early 2015 Position Previews

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How many cornerbacks or safeties do we really need in the 2015 recruiting class? How about linebackers or offensive linemen? Have you ever really thought about it?

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

As so often happens in the course of running a blog like this, I found myself this evening with almost nothing to do and something on my mind.  You see, although today was an amazing day overall for the future of Baylor Football with the commit of our first-ever 5* QB in Jarrett Stidham, as well as the successes of commits Chad President and Tren'Davian Dickson in the Texas high school playoffs, it wasn't as good as it could have been.  With 5* OLB Malik Jefferson headed south to one school we beat at their place and Midway S Kahlil Haughton to another, as well as indications from at least one other key recruit that things might not be going our way, I started thinking about where we were with this recruiting class and what we might need.

As of this moment on Saturday, December 20, 2014, Baylor has 13 verbal commitments in the 2015 recruiting class.  Projecting out a bit in terms of positions from what we think we know, 8 of those commits are likely to play offense when they get to Waco while just 4 are slated for the defense.  The other, Andrew Galitz, is a kicker/punter or punter/kicker, whichever you prefer. With this kind of split, it seems pretty obvious that the balance of our remaining spots -- 3 or 4 scholarships at most -- will go to defense, but where?

Here's what I've decided to do to try to get a better handle on things: Longtime denizens of ODB have seen my Position Preview series before each of the last two seasons.  In it I make charts for each position to show how many of whatever we have.  It's a decent enough way to look at potential position depth charts before breaking things down individually.  Today, I'm going to do the first part but not the second so we can get a look at the whole without breaking down the parts.  You'll see what I mean. Remember, this is how things will be in 2015, and for the purpose of this exercise, I'm going to assume everyone returns even though we know they won't (due to the Draft) or can't (simply because there's too many of them).

A Few Notes:

  • All incoming freshmen are assumed to be redshirting.
  • Non-scholarship players have been removed except where they may play a significant role.
  • Heights/weights have been updated based on the latest roster or 247Sports' recruiting profiles.

Quarterbacks:

Eligibility Remaining
No. Player Year Ht/Wt. Position 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
17 Seth Russell JR 6-3/215 Quarterback




13 Chris Johnson SO 6-5/220 Quarterback




1 Jarrett Stidham
FR* 6-3.5/190 Quarterback




UPDATE: With Chad President's decommittment today, Baylor will now have 3 scholarship QBs in spring practice led by this year's backup, Mr. Russell. I believe Briles has said in the past that he prefers only having 3 QBs at a given time, but you might see some fill-in with a walk-on or two to run the scout team.

Need: 0

Running Backs:

Eligibility Remaining
No. Player Year Ht/Wt. Position 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
33 Silas Nacita
SR 5-11/185 Running Back




20 Anthony Webb
SR 5-11/195 Running Back




32 Rashodrick Linwood
JR 5-9/200 Running Back




28 Devin Chafin
JR 6-0/225 Running Back




2 Johnny Jefferson
SO 5-10/200 Running Back




22 Terence Williams RS-FR 6-2/225 Running Back




-- J.W. Ketchum III
FR 5-11.5/201 Running Back




A couple of things here: 1) after having 3 RBs or fewer for most of this year, we're going to have a veritable plethora of options next season provided Webb returns (which seems likely) and our trio of starting options becomes a quartet, and 2) I'm putting Ketchum in the mix at RB and Hasty at IR, but both could easily be RB/WRs.  Just keep that in mind.  We are almost definitely done at RB this year, although I have long felt we could use a big back in this class.  Probably not happening.

Need: 0

Inside Receivers:

Eligibility Remaining
No. Player Year Ht/Wt. Position 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
80 Cal Spangler
SR 5-11/185 Inside Receiver




1 Corey Coleman
JR 5-11/190 Inside Receiver




84 Lynx Hawthorne
JR 6-0/200 Inside Receiver




9 K.D. Cannon
SO 6-0/170 Inside Receiver




18 Chris Platt
RS-FR 5-11/165 Inside Receiver




-- JaMychal Hasty
FR 5-8/185 Running Back




If we're being completely honest with each other, there's probably no good way to say whether Hasty and Ketchum will be RBs or IRs.  It seems to me that Hasty is better suited as a IR while Ketchum is a RB, but I can't say for sure.  Either way, we're not taking any more here.

Need: 0

Outside Receivers:

Eligibility Remaining
No. Player Year Ht/Wt. Position 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
4 Jay Lee
SR 6-3/210 Wide Receiver




82 Kaleb Moore
JR 6-0/200 Wide Receiver




26 Brandon Brown
JR 6-0/180 Wide Receiver




12 Quan Jones
SO 6-5/210 Wide Receiver




83 Cole Edmiston
SO 6-1/190 Wide Receiver




16 Davion Hall
SO 6-2/200 Wide Receiver




8 Ishmael Zamora
RS-FR 6-4/195 Wide Receiver




9 Blake Lynch
FR 6-3.5/195 Wide Receiver




2 Devontre Stricklin
FR 6-3/180 Wide Receiver




Looking for a place where someone might transfer out?  You've found it!  This is a lot of outside receivers to carry one one roster, particularly when just two of them play at any given time.  Jay Lee is now the elder statesman leading a group that skews heavily toward underclassmen.  Don't need any other recruits here, although a certain Cedar Hill player whose name rhymes with Shamarkus Dodge could find a home (but probably won't, so don't get your hopes up).

Need: 0

Offensive Line:

I'm going to do this the same way I did it in the Position Previews, broken up between (presumed) starters and likely backups.

Starters

Eligibility Remaining
No. Player Year Ht/Wt. Position 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
58 Spencer Drango SR 6-6/305 Left Tackle




73 Blake Muir
SR 6-6/300 Left Guard





55
Kyle Fuller
JR 6-5/305 Center




67 Desmine Hilliard SR 6-5/340 Right Guard





69 Pat Colbert
SR 6-6/310 Right Tackle




This could change quite a bit depending on what Drango does and where our JUCOs fit in, but doesn't that look amazing if we can pull it off?

Second-Team

Eligibility Remaining
No. Player Year Ht/Wt. Position 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
-- Maurice Porter
JR 6-6/295 Left Tackle




60 LaQuan McGowan
SR 6-8/410 Left Guard





72 Blake Blackmar
RS-FR 6-5/340 Center




61 Jarell Broxton
SR 6-5/330 Right Guard




69 Ishmael Wilson SO 6-4/295 Right Tackle




-- Dominic Desouza
JR 6-7/300 Tackle




Really had to search to find our backup center for this group, but I think it's going to be Blackmar.  Or it might be someone else.  Do I look like Nostradamus?

Reserves

Eligibility Remaining
No. Player Year Ht/Wt. Position 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
-- Devonte Jones
JR 6-2/305 Guard




76 Jason Osei
JR 6-4/300 Tackle




52 Rami Hammad SO 6-5/315 Guard/Tackle




74 Sean Muir
SO 6-3/285 Center




57 Tanner Thrift
SO 6-5/290 Tackle




77 Patrick Lawrence
RS-FR 6-6/280 Tackle




70 Josh Pelzel
RS-FR 6-6/320 Tackle




Strangely enough, we have not a single interior lineman in this class at this point.  I'm not sure we will add one, either, with limited spots available.  The additions of Hammad and Wilson balance things out for us a bit, since both will be sophomores in 2015, so it's not a huge deal.  A year from now, however, we'll have no scholarship redshirt freshmen OL on the roster. I'd really like to see a HS G or OT, but I don't think we will.

Need: 0 (arguably 1)

Tight Ends:

Eligibility Remaining
No. Player Year Ht/Wt. Position 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
15 Gus Penning SR 6-6/250 Tight End




41 Tre'Von Armstead
JR 6-6/265 Tight End




85 Jordan Feuerbacher
SO 6-4/250 Tight End




-- Sam Tecklenburg
FR 6-3.5/257 Tight End




Nothing to see here.  We're not taking another TE.

Need: 0

Defensive Tackles:

Eligibility Remaining
No. Player Year Ht/Wt. Position 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
93 Suleiman Masumbuko SR 6-2/300 Defensive Tackle




98 Trevor Clemons-Valdez
SR 6-3/290 Defensive Tackle




95 Beau Blackshear
SR
6-4/300 Defensive Tackle




90 Javonte Magee
JR 6-5/280 Defensive Tackle




75 Andrew Billings JR 6-2/300 Defensive Tackle




96 Byron Bonds
JR 6-2/280 Defensive Tackle




91 Andrew Morris
RS-FR 6-1/270 Defensive Tackle




97 Ira Lewis
RS-FR 6-3/265 Defensive Tackle




Hmmmm... So we don't have any DTs in this class, and I'm not exactly crazy about that.  Since both of our DTs from the 2013 class (Bonds and Billings) played as true freshmen, we have a hole here.  Do we really want to go into 2016 with 5 scholarship DTs?  This is a situation that basically screams JUCO a year from now (or the year beyond), and I'd rather not have to rely on that.

Need: 1

Defensive Ends:

Eligibility Remaining
No. Player Year Ht/Wt. Position 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
2 Shawn Oakman SR 6-9/280 Defensive End




92 Jamal Palmer SR
6-3/240 Defensive End




86 Samuel Ukwuachu* SR
6-5/245 Defensive End




15 Brian Nance SO 6-3/230 Defensive End




56 K.J. Smith SO 6-2/255 Defensive End




43 Jamie Jacobs
RS-FR 6-4/220 Defensive End




94 Xavier Jones
RS-FR 6-3/205 Defensive End




99 Josh Malin
RS-FR 6-5/245 Defensive End




52 Greg Roberts
RS-FR 6-6/220 Defensive End




*Taken from last year's Post-Spring Depth Chart, since he's not currently on the roster.

This actually looks pretty good, and you might see someone like Malin spin down to DT at some point and help out with depth there.  That makes me feel somewhat better.  We don't have any DEs in the 2015 class, either, and don't seem likely to get one.

Need: 0

Linebackers:

Eligibility Remaining
No. Player Year Ht/Wt. Position 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
5 Grant Campbell
SR
6-1/225 LB




20 Aiavion Edwards
JR 6-1/225 OLB




16 Kendall Ehrlich
JR 6-1/225 LB




45 Xavier Phillips
SO 6-1/215 OLB




52 Raaquan Davis
SO 6-1/220 OLB




11 Taylor Young
SO 5-10/225 OLB




-- Clay Johnston
SO 6-2/200 LB




We have one LB, Johnston, and are definitely searching for another.  It won't be Malik, obviously, but we need someone.  Richard Moore would be perfect.

Need: 1

Nickelbacks:

Eligibility Remaining
No. Player Year Ht/Wt. Position 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
34 Lee Bristow
SR
6-3/225 NB




21 Patrick Levels
JR 5-11/195 NB




48 Travon Blanchard
SO 6-2/190 NB




17 Cordell Dorsey
RS-FR 6-1/190 NB




There's a point where it's impossible to tell a small OLB that might grow from a NB that need not do so. Do we need an OLB or a NB?  Both?

Need: 1

Cornerbacks:

Eligibility Remaining
No. Player Year Ht/Wt. Position Starts 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
1
Chris Sanders
SR 6-0/185 CB --




24
Terrence Singleton
JR 5-11/195 CB --





4 Xavien Howard
JR 6-2/205 CB 12




9 Ryan Reid
JR 5-11/190 CB 11





3 Tion Wright
JR 5-9/160 CB 1





7
Jourdan Blake
RS-FR 6-0/185 CB --





27
Verkedric Vaughns
RS-FR 5-10/185 CB --





27
Jordan Tolbert
FR 5-10/185 CB --





27
Tony Nicholson
FR 5-10/185 CB --





So I'm going to be honest for a moment-- when I started this task, I set out to look at two positions.  This was the first.  My reason?  I don't think we're getting Kris Boyd on Christmas Day (although I'd really like to), and I have not heard much lately to make me think our chances with Holton Hill are significantly better.  For those two especially, UT's recruiting resurgence could really cost us.

Still, now that I look at what we have going forward, I'm not as convinced as I once was that we absolutely must have another CB in this class.  I'm still going to chalk it up as a need, though.

Need: 1

Safeties:

Eligibility Remaining
No. Player Year Ht/Wt. Position 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
13 Terrell Burt
SR 5-10/185 S




28 Orion Stewart
JR 6-2/200 S




26 Taion Sells
JR 5-10/185 S




12 Alfred Pullom
SO 6-2/185 S




18 Chance Waz
SO 5-11/170 S




-- Jameson Houston
FR 6-1/190 S




After cornerbacks, this was the second position I wanted to address tonight.  I am of the opinion that regardless Houston's intentions (seems like a decommit is coming), we need at least one safety.  If he decommits, two.  That's why losing Haughton today was such a big deal.  If we don't fill this need now, we'll have to hit the JUCO ranks later (or seriously consider moving Davion Hall to defense as so many have been pining for since his commitment).

Need: 2 (assuming Houston decommits)

Priority of Needs:

So, after all that is done, it's apparent that we have six potential needs: OL, DT, LB, NB, CB, and S.  To the surprise of no one in a class where we have 4 defensive commits, these are nearly all defensive positions.  Taking the above into consideration and folding NB into the LBs, I'd rank our needs as follows:

1. Safety (1 or 2) --  I don't think this is even a question.
2. Defensive Tackle (1)
-- I'm baffled why this doesn't seem to be a bigger deal to anyone else.
3. Linebacker (1)
-- Both of our HS LBs in the 2014 class failed to qualify. That's a problem.
4. Cornerback (1)
-- Hill or Boyd.  Boyd or Hill.  One of those would be great.
5. Offensive Line (maybe 1)
-- I just don't like not taking HS OL in a class.

With a class of 14 and spots for 2-3 more at the most, having ~5 needs remaining is hardly ideal.  My guess based on our offer pattern and things we've seen recently is that our coaching staff disagrees with me on the need for a DT and will instead focus on the other three defensive areas.  It's also possible that should you get someone like Hill, you can essentially kill 2 birds with 1 stone in that he can play corner or safety.  That might free up a spot for a flyer on a DT or another linebacker, if you find one you like.

Ideal (Realistic) Finish:

CB/S Holton Hill
LB Richard Moore
? (there may be a potential flip in the works that I'm not considering)

UPDATE:

Chad President's departure from the 2014 class means we're back down to 13 commits and may be able to take 3-4 going forward instead of 2013.  I don't necessarily think that impacts our positional priority all that much, since we still have the same needs on the defensive side of the ball, but it might mean we make a new offer or two soon to try to even things out a bit.  For those worried about balance, 3-4 more defensive recruits would mean we have 8 offensive and 7-8 defensive in this class.