As always, I am using 247's composite recruiting rankings to talk about the signees in reverse order.
#16: Kenan Ivy, S, 5-9 180 lbs. Lancaster HS, Lancaster, TX. HUDL Highlights
Analysis: Ivy is an extremely fast straight line athlete who plays with a mean streak. Ivy is fast, fast, fast. As a junior he ran a 21.23 200m, which is elite, even at a Big XII level. Most of his highlights start with him playing 10-15 yards off the ball and then exploding towards the line of scrimmage to meet the ball carrier near the backfield. Ivy is probably one of the fastest players in the state, and he plays like it. Noticing a trend with Baylor's class, Ivy is small at 5-9 but plays with a mean streak.
So, why isn't one of the state's fastest players who is a great tackler not rated higher? Well, I think it's a couple things. First, his size makes Ivy more limited in man coverage. Second, there aren't too many examples on film of him making plays on the ball in coverage. Third, Ivy seems like more of a straight line athlete as opposed to having quick feet with the ability to flip his hips and run with WRs downfield. Man coverage seems like it would be Ivy's weakest point.
Thankfully, Baylor has a perfect position to take advantage of Ivy's strengths which I'll talk about in a moment. Overall, while Ivy has his weaknesses, what he does well, play fast and mean, he does really well. Ivy is the type of prospect that you would call an eraser in the run game -- his film is replete with runners thinking they found a hole to run through and Ivy comes like a missile to stop them in their tracks.
Player Comparison: When Ivy first committed, I watched his film and immediately thought, "Hey look, it's Taion Sells." I still stand by that. Both are short, straight line athletes who play with a mean streak. If you have a chance, watch Taion's highschool highlights here, the resemblance really is uncanny. On a final note Ivy definitely is faster, but Sells probably has better short-area quickness.
Position: Ivy is a perfect boundary-safety (down-safety) in Baylor's system. Boundary-safeties are rarely called to play man coverage, but instead are there to be "erasers" against the run. Current BU boundary safety Orion Stewart is more pass defense oriented, but in general boundary-safeties tend to be more run defense oriented.
Outlook: Because Ivy is so fast and such a good, violent tackler, Ivy's floor is as a good special teams contributor. I expect Ivy to redshirt, because of numbers at safety right now, but expect him to be on all coverage teams as RS-FR. If Ivy shows more potential to play man coverage and have ball skills, he has the potential to be a really good to great starter. If he stays as is, I expect a valuable backup (similar to how Sells is being used right now) with the potential to start depending on those around him.
#15: Chris Miller, S, 5-11 180 lbs. Lone Star HS, Frisco, TX. HUDL Highlights
Analysis: Miller put his name on the map when he participated in the Nike camp that does the SPARQ drills -- a combination of different drills that gives you a total value as a measure of overall athleticism. Miller put up one of the top SPARQ numbers in the nation, notably with a 4.57 40 yard dash, a 4.01 second 20 yard shuttle, and a 38 inch vertical, all of which were among the best in the nation.
One of my favorite things about Miller is the improvement he shows from his junior to senior film. His junior film screamed "intriguing prospect" while his senior film was a dominant showing for a guy carrying his team to the state championship game. What makes Miller special is his overall athletic ability married with a great football sense -- he does the things you really want to see from a S/NB, taking great angles to the ball and meeting the ball carrier with a bad attitude. Miller shows many examples of "showing" in the hole, causing the ball-carrier to bounce outside, where Miller either chases him down himself or feeds him into his teammates.
While there aren't too many examples of Miller flipping his hips and running with receivers downfield, there are a few examples and he looks to do it well. Based off his overall athleticism, it shouldn't be a problem.
Player Comparison: An overall superb athlete who could either play at S or NB who plays with a violent temperament, frequently meeting ball-carriers in the backfield... hmmm.... yeah, it's Ahmad Dixon. If you look at Dixon's combine numbers, Miller actually shows better ability across the board. But, as a bit of an aside, I always thought Dixon lost a bit of athleticism as he went on at Baylor. I remember as a sophomore him chasing down Texas RB D.J. Monroe, an absolute speed demon (you can watch it here, at 1:15:22). You don't do that if you only run a 4.64, as Dixon did at the combine. Anyway, I think Miller and Dixon are very comparable in their overall athleticism, size, and temperament.
Position: Miller is such a good athlete that I actually think he could play any of boundary-safety, field-safety, or nickel-back. However, because Miller is such a good athlete around the ball, I think Baylor will most likely use him as a NB. Boundary-safety is also a possibility, but with Ivy almost assuredly being slotted there, and nobody else looking to be a NB in the class, I think NB is Miller's most likely destination.
Outlook: I foresee big things for Miller at Baylor. Guys that are as good an athlete as he is generally find a way to get on the field. I see his versatility as a big plus for him. Versatility isn't just big for the staff, but it's also big for the player; i.e. the more versatile the player is the more opportunities a player will have to get on the field depending on surrounding circumstances. Expect Miller to emerge in a couple years as fighting to start somewhere.
#14: Deonte Williams, LB, 6-2 215 lbs. Prestonwood HS, Plano, TX. HUDL Highlights
Analysis: I mean this in a positive way, but Williams is a pretty simple analysis. There just isn't that much thinking or projection you have to do. He already has good size at 6-2, 215 lbs. He's clearly not far away from being big enough to play at a Big XII level. He has good speed, somewhere in the high 4.6, 4.7 range. And he is already a sound tackler. Good size, good speed, good tackler, that's pretty much want you want in a LB. None of his traits look particularly elite for a Big XII level, but instincts and mentality are often what separate the good from the great at LB.
Williams played a decent amount of what I would call a boundary, force linebacker (meaning he would line up on the short side of the field and play off the butt of a 5-tech DL). He has good experience as a blitzer, which Bennett likes to do with his LBs a lot (particularly the boundary linebacker).
Player Comparison: Baylor hasn't taken anyone I can think of like Williams. Most of our LB prospects tend to be guys who played a lot of DB in the past (Aaivion Edwards, Raaquan Davis) or were pure athletic projects (Bryce Hager). LB comparisons are difficult, because as I said often it's instinct and mentality that are the separator, which is difficult to ascertain fully on highlight tapes. At his best, Williams could be Sean Weatherspoon.
Position: Williams is listed as an OLB on his recruiting profile, and he played outside, but I suspect he'll end up as as a MLB at Baylor. I think he could play either position, but his lateral quickness isn't as good as his other attributes. Almost every LB Baylor has ever had plays at around 225, and Williams is 215 coming out of highschool. If Williams continues to put on weight, Baylor would love to use him as a true thumper as an ILB in the 3-4.
Outlook: The biggest challenge Williams will have in his Baylor career is usurping the 3 LBs in front of him in the next class (Johnston, J. Williams, L. Jones) to get playing time. Worst case scenario, I think Williams is a starter as a senior. Because of his size, however, I think he will find a role, especially as an ILB in the 3-4, in his sophomore or junior year.
#13: Grayland Arnold, DB, 5-9 180 lbs. Kountze HS, Kountze TX. HUDL Highlights
Analysis: Arnold epitomizes the word "athlete." As Briles says, if you want to be a D1 athlete and you play in a small classification, as Arnold does, you better dominate. And that is exactly what Arnold did. Playing anything from QB, RB, WR, and DB, he was all over the field.
First things first, Arnold is small. At 5-9, you have to have elite traits to overcome your size. He is a quick twitch athlete with good feet. On top of the that, he shows good leaping ability and ball skills. He shows enough speed, but not elite. Probably somewhere in the 4.55-4.65 range. Honestly, Arnold reminds me of a lot of fellow signee Rajah Preciado.
Mostly playing safety on defense, Arnold shows a fearless attitude, attacking ball carriers in the backfield. Arnold is what I would call a "competitive runner," meaning that when engaged in man coverage he fights to stay in position relentlessly.
Player Comparison: Arnold is an ultra athlete with small statute and decent speed. I stole this one from InsideTexas, but he looks and plays similar to former Texas CB Deon Beasley.
Position: I think Arnold will either play corner or field-safety at Baylor. I have a feeling he might make a better safety, because of his physicality and average speed, but everything I've seen has said that he will play corner. At corner, I think he could play either field or boundary, but most likely is a field corner. Usually, you play your smaller corner to the field because it protects their size. (eg. the boundary usually sees more short routes, like slants, because the distance from the QB to WR is shorter, thereby making the probability of an accurate throw go up). In general, bigger corners are better able to fight for position on short routes.
Outlook: I know there has been a lot of talk about Arnold coming in to start immediately, but I'd be surprised. For one, X Howard is leaving open the boundary corner, where, as I just alluded to, I think the staff would prefer a larger corner. Second, not only did Arnold come from a small school, but he played mostly safety. Now, if he comes in and wins the position more power to him, I would just be very surprised. Beyond his first year, I think Arnold's overall athleticism will get him on the field at either corner or safety at some point in his career. If he improves his speed, he is an All Big XII caliber player.