22 Comments

  1. Ryan

    Thanks for doing this, always enjoy these.

    Do you see the OL getting close to conference average this season or are we still another season away? Same question for the safeties.

    • ianaboyd

      Those are probably the two best questions to ask about this team.

      I guess the safety tandem is probably Verkedric Vaughns and Blake Lynch? Vaughns seemed promising, Lynch is a good athlete but I haven’t seen him in that role yet. The reviews are good and Rhule/Snow know their business so I guess that’s a good sign.

      The OL looks like it’ll be Fruhmorgen-Newman?JUCO?-Tecklenburg-Blackmar-Lawrence?Malin?

      That group is probably fairly close to conference average but won’t be a program feature for another year or more. OL takes a long time to develop, particularly if you’re overhauling the system.

      • Travis

        The starting safeties will be some combination of Lynch/Vaughns/Chris Miller. Woods and Morgan were both early enrollees and there are only 5 scholarship safeties. With how many DBs Rhule usually plays, they’ll all play.

        • Travis

          The Baylor DBs should actually be quite good this year. I’m not sure if you’ve watched any of the Temple grad transfer Derrek Thomas, but he’s awesome. He’ll play bump and run in the boundary. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of Grayland Arnold as a nickel this year (flanked by Harrison Hand).

          • ianaboyd

            Oh yeah, shoulda mentioned him really. Or maybe I did, I can’t remember. I put this one together over the course of a week while studying the D for an upcoming post.

  2. Travis

    I think Thornton is the best player in this class (close between him and Galvin). He has a ton of work to do both adding weight and route running, but his pure athletic ability is about as good as I’ve seen from a Baylor WR. He’s got Denzel Mims’ height + frame but he’s much better with the ball in short spaces.

    Sims is my favorite of the TEs by a decent margin. He just looks ready made to be an instant impact guy.

    I’d be surprised if Phillips doesn’t play OT. He obviously has a lot of technique to learn, but he is the most athletic OL in the class. His SPARQ scores are insane. At 6-6 278 he had a 4.69 shuttle, 29 vertical, and 45 power throw. I think he actually played TE for his team as a senior.

    Also agree on Woods. Huge upside and floor. Rhule has talked a myriad of times about how the safeties in this scheme have to be really smart because they handle so, so much. Woods had offers from all the Ivy schools and is a phenomenal athlete along with being a perfect fit as a FS.

    Finally, Galvin is awesome. No idea why Texas didn’t offer. Baylor listed him at 6-7 275 on signing day, who knows if that’s true.

  3. System Poster

    It’s hard not to be a little suspicious of Baylor’s recent recruiting success. I know this isn’t really what your blog is about, but most of the reasons offered for Baylor’s continued recruiting success don’t really hold up to scrutiny.

    Staff with a lot of Texas connections? Not really. Joey McGuire was obviously a great get for the program and one of the most well connected high school football coaches in the state, but he was the only member of Rhule’s original staff with any serious Texas connections. (Shawn Bell was on the staff, but he was in a non-coaching, non-recruiting role as an offensive analyst). Virtually every Big 12 school has entire staffs made up of guys with deep Texas connections. All but one of Rhule’s guys were carryovers from his time at Temple and/or former NFL coaches with origins in the north east.

    Baylor has nice facilities? Who doesn’t these days.

    Firmly-held religious mission? Nobody is buying that anymore.

    Landing a highly regarded recruiting class coming off such a monumental and earth-shattering scandal and a 1-11 season has to raise some serious red flags.

    • Travis

      I understand the suspicion.

      I think Rhule and co., particularly Fran Brown, are just dynamite recruiters. Have you ever listened to Matt Rhule speak? I think it’s pretty illuminating for why he’s so good.

      There’s some precedent, too. They signed the 4th best class in the AAC after going 2-12 in his first season, and were up to second by the time he left. Obviously no scandal preceding it, but still.

      • System Poster

        Yeah, and of course I have to admit I’m not well connected enough to know any actual details. And I’m not naive enough to think that everybody isn’t cheating a little. But man is is surprising, especially the speed with which he put together that first recruiting class. Maybe Ian has some info from all of his connections to conclusively put all of my (possibly unfounded) suspicions to bed.

        • Travis

          With respect to that first class, a lot of those guys originally wanted to go Baylor in the first place. If you haven’t watched a video of Rhule speaking before, I think it’d be helpful if you genuinely are curious. It’s easy for me to imagine, post-scandal, him coming into the house and easing and placating those concerns.

          I know you played down the Texas hires, but don’t forget he also hired David Wetzel (a Baylor alum) who happened to be the head of the TXHSFB coaches association. Even though Wetzel and Bell can’t go on the road and recruit, they can still set up meetings with coaches and talk to players over social media and such.

          • System Poster

            My point with the Texas connections wasn’t that they didn’t have them, it was that they were overstated. Sure, Baylor has a few former Texas high school football coaches around, but so does everyone that counts on Texas a primary recruiting ground. If Baylor had gone out and filled half their staff with former Texas high school coaches, the recruiting bump would make a lot of sense. And that’s often the way the staff is portrayed, but it isn’t actually the case.

            I buy Ian’s explanation that Baylor is simply playing the game more aggressively than others out of desperation to avoid falling back into irrelevancy at a crucial time with realignment looming in the future. Of course, playing that sort of game has backfired in the past for other Texas schools…

          • ianaboyd

            I wouldn’t quite put it that way. I don’t know that Baylor is doing it like, Ole Miss for instance who brought the wrath upon themselves for the particularly excessive and brazen ways that they were “playing the game.” If Baylor is really pushing the envelope in crazy or excessive (to the norm) ways I don’t know about it. I just suspect that they have lots of guys that are willing to pony up for the program, moreso perhaps than most non-OU/UT schools.

          • ianaboyd

            Btw, to be clear, I’m not saying that I suspect current Baylor of luring players with prostitutes or covering up crimes by players. I mentioned those as things that I think happen fairly common in the college football world that I believe should be reined in and cleaned up. Paying the players is something I’m pretty sympathetic to since they obviously have major market value for the schools.

    • ianaboyd

      The Baylor alumni are deeply invested in preventing the recent success of the school and town from being crushed by the Briles scandal.

      Recruiting at a high level is all about having lots of monied alum near campus and in the big local towns that are willing to play the game. Baylor has that, so they recruit well, that’s my theory.

      I don’t like to accuse and blast teams for paying players because I’m reasonably sure that’s happening everywhere. Baylor’s doing it well? Cool. What I’m against is covering up crimes by players (also probably happening to some degree at many places) or luring players with prostitutes and stuff like that (also pretty common, I think).

      • Bob

        So let me get this straight: Baylor self investigated, self-reported, and and self-corrected at an unprecedented level in college football history, including on its own volition inviting the NCAA to come in and review all its findings, and because they continue to recruit well, the best conclusion you have the ability to arrive at is because they are paying players? Even as the NCAA is camped out on their back porch?

        This is what it is often termed as intellectual dishonesty.

        • ianaboyd

          I think there’s just a much wider realm of context that I’m aware of, such as this: https://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2014/4/10/5594348/college-football-bag-man-interview

          My assumption is that everyone in the B12 pays players and recruiting battles come down to multiple factors including fit, relationship with coaching staff, tradition, the chance to win, and money bids. I assume that even the bad Baylor teams probably paid some players but that under Briles Baylor was able to bring in more alumni to be invested in the football program and helping to boost the squad. The town of Waco is flourishing in part because of the improvements in the sports programs and in part because of Chip and Joanna.

          Naturally Baylor fans are going to bristle when I suggest that the program is almost certainly paying players and “playing the game” at a higher level than most other programs due to the fact that the school has TONS of successful alumni and that a much greater share of them are invested in football and the school’s athletics programs. But to me that’s just normal across the game and how I understand the sport to work, not a particular indictment on the Baylor program.

          • enoswins

            What garbage. I rarely check out Ian Boyd stuff and when I do there is always something in there to trash Baylor. Always. I should have expected these sorts of comments from you.

  4. Ryan

    Another thing Rhule had to sell that first class on was that there was a huge hole on the depth chart from the 2016 class imploding. As mentioned above, some of these guys were already considering Baylor and just wanted to get a handle on who the coaching staff would be but no doubt a ton of these guys were pitched early playing time and got it.

    This 2018 class might have been better than the staff deserved based on the first season but they absolutely did the leg work on early evaluations and taking advantage of the early signing period. They didn’t have a ton of defections once they committed (can think of 1 safety that went to OU and maybe 1-2 more). From what I had read from those commitments it looked like the staff did a good job of expectations management with those players as they didn’t seem that bothered by a 1 win season.

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