"I'll take them seriously when they start getting recruits on defense."
"Art Briles knows they have to play D, too, right?"
"All they have is skill position guys. Wake me up when they pull someone that can play defense."
Baylor's Big Wednesday, Part Deux
Three weeks ago, Baylor kicked off its 2017 recruiting class with two huge commits. Today, it decided to take things to the next level.
Each of the statements above is, in truth, a paraphrase reflecting common reactions to Baylor recruiting victories; we've gotten offensive players galore, according to the doubters, but the defensive side has lagged behind. Like most things in recruiting, this sentiment is simultaneously true and false. It's true that with guys like K.D. Cannon, Robbie Rhodes (pour one out), Jarrett Stidham, Corey Coleman, Blake Lynch, and JaMycal Hasty, most of our recruiting success has come on offense. It's also true that we wouldn't be where we are now without guys like Andrew Billings or Ahmad Dixon.
But regardless, however true this particular line of criticism might be, it doesn't look like it will stay that way for long. Not if Phil Bennett and his staff keep having days like yesterday.
After the amazing events of earlier this week that saw Baylor capitalize on its momentum in the 2017 class with three new Bears, including our first on the defensive side of the ball, rumors abounded that we could be on the verge of something extremely special if the right pieces started falling into place. One of those pieces-- a big one-- is Baron Browning, a 4* LB that Baylor offered way back in June of 2014. The first indication that something might be coming down the pipe with Mr. Browning came in the form of a tweet memorializing his visit to campus this week with close friend Anthony Hines, also a 2017 4* LB.
The pair has been rumored to be interested in playing together at the next level, so the idea that they might visit somewhere simultaneously was no surprise. That they'd make their way to Waco within hours of Baylor's Big Wednesday (Part Deux), was.
Ultimately, things came to a head yesterday afternoon with Browning, who announced his commitment on Twitter and took the recruiting world by storm.
It's done! I'm officially a BAYLOR BEAR #BGOD— 6⃣ (@baronbrwnng) July 18, 2015
It was the culmination of a frantic few minutes in Baylor Twitter circles as the recruiting folks started hearing from their various sources that something was imminent and everyone else waited with baited breath. Coaches Briles and Bennett (who just joined Twitter this week) then confirmed in their own ways...*
If Ya don't know, now ya know! #17SuperTeam— Phil Bennett (@CoachBennettBU) July 18, 2015
And the celebration began as news began to spread that Baylor had snared the #1 OLB in the entire country for the 2017 class.
*Keep an eye on this new hashtag-- #17SuperTeam-- going forward.
I was actually standing outside the airport in Chicago when the news happened, so a measly fanshot was all I could muster at the time. We can go deeper into our latest commitment now.
LB Baron Browning
School: Kennedale HS (Kennedale, TX)
Weight: 220 lbs
Rankings: Composite: 97.76 (4*, #45 Nat'l, #1 LB), 247: 95 (4*, #30 Nat'l, #1 LB)
Profiles: 247Sports, Rivals, Scout, ESPN
Offers: Baylor, Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State, Oklahoma, Texas, A&M
Aside from the simple joy of getting a 6-3 (or 6-4, depending on the source) LB that runs like a gazelle and hits like a freight train, the best part of a commit like Browning's, which came 17 months before he intends to graduate and enroll early, is what it means for the rest of the class. Like Kellen Mond and Hezekiah Jones on offense, Browning is a player that Baylor will be able to build a class around on defense and use to recruit other elite talents. I've already mentioned the fact that he's close friends with fellow-4* Anthony Hines, who tweeted this yesterday evening...
... but he's also simply an elite recruit, period. Elite recruits know who other elite recruits are, particularly in their class, and they see each other at camps, combines, and the like. Now, instead of some other school getting that benefit, it will be Baylor. That's huge. And it brings our 2017 class, now #3 in the country, to the following: