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.
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.
|22||Terence Williams||RS-FR||6-2/225||Running Back|
J.W. Ketchum III
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.
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.
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).
I'm going to do this the same way I did it in the Position Previews, broken up between (presumed) starters and likely backups.
|58||Spencer Drango||SR||6-6/305||Left Tackle|
|67||Desmine Hilliard||SR||6-5/340||Right Guard
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?
|69||Ishmael Wilson||SO||6-4/295||Right 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?
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)
|15||Gus Penning||SR||6-6/250||Tight End|
Nothing to see here. We're not taking another TE.
|93||Suleiman Masumbuko||SR||6-2/300||Defensive Tackle|
|75||Andrew Billings||JR||6-2/300||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.
|2||Shawn Oakman||SR||6-9/280||Defensive End|
|15||Brian Nance||SO||6-3/230||Defensive End|
|56||K.J. Smith||SO||6-2/255||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.
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.
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?
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.
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)
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.