Wednesday, February 4th was National Signing Day for College Football, and with the 31st ranked class in the nation (according to ESPN, 44th according to scout.com), the Baylor Bears have what Coach Art Briles described as the best class in Baylor history.
The Bears received 20 letters of intent on Wednesday, adding great players to an already talented football program.
Here is a list of the newest Baylor Bears with quotes on each from Coach Briles.
Dominic Desouza: Ju-Co Offensive Tackle transfer, 6’7, 300 lbs
“We can redshirt him if we need to, but he has some potential to play tackle, [he’s] a big guy, very athletic. I like him, like his attitude, like his movement. I’ve been able to watch him a little bit since he’s been on campus. I’ve been very impressed with him.”
Devonte Jones: Offensive Guard, 6’2, 305 lbs
“He’s about 6’2 and a half, 300 (lbs). He can play inside, hopefully [will play] center eventually, so we’ll kind of look at him from that standpoint, but once again, good body, good frame, [and] got a good upside.”
Blake Lynch: Wide Receiver, 6’3, 191 lbs
“I think may be the unsung guy out of the group quite honestly. People just don’t possess that size with that speed. That’s the thing that’s kind of unknown about how Blake is, is how fast he is, I mean he’s a legit 6’2 and a half, 6’3 kid, about 200 pounds that ran a sub-22 200 as a sophomore and went low 21 last year as a junior. I think he’s got a tremendous upside for us here at Baylor and the next few years at the receiver position.”
Jarrett Stidham: Quarterback, 6’4, 195 lbs
“You can check your Rivals deal, but you know this guy is a real time deal, he gives us a chance to continue our quarterback tradition not only at Baylor, but what we’ve done to the University of Houston and prior to that. He’s the guy that certainly has the potential to be next in line. Strong arm kid, dual threat quarterback, very intelligent. He’s very passionate about the game, that’s the thing that I’ve got to really appreciate about him since he’s been on campus is his competitive natureness of passing that he has to be great. He’s got the talent to back it up.”
Henry Black: Defensive Back, 6’1, 184 lbs
“Really good athlete, can really play, flips his hips, a really smart kid [and] very determined, great body and great mentality to back it up. I think he’s got a great future in being a big corner type athlete for us.”
Riley Daniel: Offensive Tackle, 6’5, 295 lbs
“The O-lineman from Oklahoma. When I went in there and saw him I was flashing back to 40 plus years ago when I was in Rule, TX. You know it was kind of a deal, I mean you walk in the room and everybody in that school is in that room. He’s just a guy that’s played every snap both ways, and he’s got a tremendous upside, [he’s a] big kid, dad’s a coach, very passionate [and] very physical on the field.”
Drew Galitz: Punter, 5’11, 180 lbs
“Certainly fills a need with losing Spencer, and All-American punter. We feel like he’s got to come in and be ready to play. When he steps on campus right now he’s our punter, he’s our guy, so he doesn’t have time to get acclamated and all that. He’s got to step in and punt and be ready to go. He’s also a place kicker and a kickoff person which can give us some depth in that area but we recruited him to come in and punt this year. That’s what he’s going to be able to do for us. He’s very talented and very athletic – that’s the thing I like about him. He’s a guy that’s athletic, that if something breaks down he can make it good.”
J’Mycal Hasty: Runningback, 5’9, 185 lbs
“Big time player, exceptional running back, exceptional athlete, a point guard in basketball. He’s just a guy that’s really been strong with us all the way through the process. His mom and dad are great people. His dad’s from Killeen [which] certainly helps us in the recruiting process. J’Mycal is a guy who could have gone anywhere and chose Baylor. You know, smart kid, so we’re pumped that he’s here. Like I said he fits exactly what we look for at the running back position – very athletic, very strong, [and] very explosive.”
Jameson Houston: Safety, 6’1, 190 lbs
“Tough kid, big kid, another corner, 6’1 probably 180. He ran a 21.5 last year at the TAPPS state track meet, 1 by 12 meters. So we think his upside is pretty good now, it’s pretty high. He’s a big kid, strong kid that hasn’t even begun to tap what his potential can be, so [it’s] a great pick up for us on the defensive side of the ball.”
Tyrone Hunt: Defensive End, 6’5, 245 lbs
“Another small-town kid out of Arp, TX, home of Baylor great Jim [Dawson] for the Rockets who I believe is from Arp, TX. I think he is, I know he’s an East Texas guy. Like I said, he’s one of Baylor’s best, and Tyrone we feel like is going to be another one of Baylor’s best. Once again kind of like Riley, small-town school, plays both ways, kickoff team, he’s on everything, and everybody expects a lot out of him. We like small-town kids, because they’ve got to understand the game, [and] they’ve got to realize that people depend on them. He’s another one I feel real good about at the defensive end position.”
Clay Johnston: Linebacker/Nickleback, 6’2, 209 lbs
“Linebacker out of Abilene, Wylie, about 6’2, 200 pounds. Runs well, played running back [and] had about 1,500 yards as a running back this year. We’re looking at him as a linebacker. Once again a structured family, his dad’s a head strength coach for the San Diego Chargers, [his] mother is right there with him in Abilene all the time, she’s a workout fanatic, I mean this guy is going to be a great football player. He’s very intense, not a lot of outside influences, a guy that’s pretty structured and realizes where he wants to get and how he’s supposed to get there so I appreciate that aspect about him.”
Lenoy Jones Jr.: Linebacker, 6’0, 210 lbs
“Local guy right here in Midway. Great player, his tape is really good, [he’s] very explosive. We feel like his upside is really good. His dad of course played in the league for a while, and love the fact that he’s from Waco. If these guys can play and they’re from this area, and we have an opportunity to get them, we’re going to get them. We’re really excited about what he’s going to bring to the table not only from the football aspect, but from the leadership position. He’s one of the guys when things were happening at Midway, good or not so good, thats who they’re looking at. He was one of the leaders of the football team, without question particularly on the defensive side of the ball. He’s our guy, we’re proud to have him and pumped he’s going to be able to stay in Waco and play football.”
J.W. Ketchum: Safety, 6’0, 201 lbs
“I was at a practice a couple of years ago over in Fort Bend, Marshall the weekend of Thanksgiving and two things struck me. First of all there’s no school, I think it was on a Friday. We were able to go out and watch guys practice, it was a non-contact period but you could watch them work out, and so I’m sitting there watching this, and I’m thinking what a great sport football is, because if they’re not at a structured practice, you don’t know what they’re doing. Mom and dad are at work, it’s Friday after Thanksgiving, so these guys have a purpose. I’m thinking what a great thing for them that football allows them to have a chance to be structured and have a purpose and a meaning everyday when they’re involved with school. And the second thing I notice is the guy playing quarterback is the best looking thing I’ve seen probably in a year or two. This guy is really good. You go to anywhere in the city of Houston, and you say who is the best player in Houston, and they’re going to say J.W. Ketchum. That’s just the way it is. This guy’s good now. He’s good. We’re really excited that he’s going to come here and play, he’s going to play safety for us, be a return guy, and he’s an exceptional athlete, that I appreciate his journey. He’s a guy that feels like he’s got a lot to prove like a lot of us, and that part of it fires me up.”
Tony Nicholson: Defensive Back, 5’1, 171 lbs
“Same thing, Tony played a little bit of running back and quarterback, going to come here and play corner. He’s just an extremely gifted athlete. A guy that had his team depend on him, and played really well for them this year. He’s a kid that we certainly feel like can come in here and make an impact for us, because he’s very engaging [and] very dynamic on the field whether he’s on offense or defense. He’s a kid that certainly fits exactly what we’re looking for which is an exceptional athlete to be on the defensive side of the ball.”
Eric Ogor: Linebacker/Nickleback, 6’0, 212 lbs
“Eric is a guy that plays with a real high motor, a touch kid, [we’re] looking a safety/bear position for him, but he’s a guy that can fly around, [he’s] very physical on the field, he’s got a great frame, very explosive with his legs, and like I said he’s very physical, and that part of it you certainly like from a defensive standpoint.”
Maurice Porter: Ju-Co Offensive Tackle transfer, 6’5, 295 lbs
“You know Big Mo, we’ve had some history with him over the last three years. [We] signed him out of high school, [he] went to Navarro, signed him again today, and he’ll hopefully get in here this summer. Number one rated offensive tackle in America [junior college ranks], very fluid, certainly a tackle, and [we’re] excited about getting him on campus and continuing this journey with him.”
Devontre Stricklin: Wide Receiver, 6’3, 180 lbs
“Pooh, once again another Midway guy. I mentioned Blake Lynch as being a guy that might be a sleeper of the class, this is another person. I’ve had the chance to watch Pooh personally two or three times at our camp out at Midway working out, and this guy’s really, really good now. He’s a difference maker, and he’s certainly going to fit in the line of receivers that we’ve had here over the last few years. He’s a guy that [had] a 48 triple jump last year as a junior. I think he got third in the state track meet. He’s got the potential to be a 50 footer this year which is very uncommon, particularly for a guy with that stature, being that tall. To go 50 foot being that tall in high school is pretty uncommon. So just a tremendous kid that’s tremendous player, and we’re really excited about him as we are all these guys.”
Sam Tecklenberg: Offensive Lineman, 6’3.5, 257
“I listed Sam as an athlete, because really that’s what he is. He’s a big, strong kid to play D-end, played a little Tight End on offense, but his body just in the last 8-10 months has kind of taken him to some different avenues. He’s about 6’3, 280-285. A year ago he probably weighed 260-255. I think he can play center, he can play guard, he can play big slot, I think he can play D-tackle, [and] I think he can play D-end. He’s just a guy that can do it all – very intelligent, very explosive, and like I said has had a lot of snaps. [He] played both ways at a 6A school which is pretty uncommon and he’s going to be a great addition also.”
Jordan Tolbert: Defensive Back, 5’11.5, 165 lbs
“Really loved him in camp last year. Unfortunately he tore his ACL in the summer and missed all this season, but he’s back on course ready to go. Just a very engaging, dynamic defensive player that has a lot of speed and a lot of instinct that you have to have to be able to play on that side of the ball. We’re really excited about him, excited to watch him in track this spring. He’s a guy that’s been with us a long time, hung tough and you really appreciate those people that start committed [and] stay committed. That’s really a great thing about this class. We’ve known these guys for a long time and they’ve stayed true to us and likewise, we stay true to them.”
Jordan Williams: Linebacker, 6’1, 220 lbs
“Kind of a sleeper now. A real tough kid, very explosive that can really cover ground and play. We got on him a little bit late and had to fight some really strong competition off down the stretch. He’s a kid that fits what you’re looking for particularly in the Big 12. You’ve got to be able to move your feet a little bit, you’ve got to be able to cover space, and be able to make plays in space. We certainly know that he can do that.”
Out of all of these signees, the ones I am most excited for and feel can make an immediate impact are Jarrett Stidham, J’Mycal Hasty, Blake Lynch, J.W. Ketchum, Jameson Houston, and Drew Galitz.
Galitz and Ketchum are two who I think can start from day 1. Ketchum can really challenge Terrell Burt for the safety postion next to Orion Stewart.
Stidham is obviously the future of this program, and talent wise is probably the best quarterback on this team. However, Seth Russell has shown flashes of being able to be the starter for this team. I think Stidham in a year or two has a real chance to be in the Heisman discussion especially with this system and the weapons surrounding him, but for now unless something drastic happens in practice, Russell is the starter.
Hasty won’t be a significant contributor this season (barring multiple injuries) being 5th on the depth chart behind Shock Linwood, Devin Chafin, Johnny Jefferson, and Terence Williams, but looking at highlights and seeing how the coaches feel about him, he could be the best running back on this team in a few seasons.
Lynch is far down on the depth chart as of now, but he is as talented as anyone on that depth chart sans K.D. Cannon and maybe Corey Coleman. There is a real possibility he could move pretty high up, but he’s going to have to outshine Jay Lee, Davion Hall, Ishmael Zamora, and Chris Platt. There is no doubt however that in a year or two, he is going to be known across the nation.
I hardly know anything about Houston, but there seems to be a lot of people who are very excited about his potential. The safety position is solid, but can be greatly improved. Just like Ketchum, Houston will give Burt a challenge.
I think this Baylor team can be the best in the history of the program. Seth Russell should be just fine with his running ability and arm, and even then there is a 5 star quarterback sitting right behind him. The talent at the running back and receiver positions is as loaded as ever, and the beastly defensive line is one year more experienced, and better with the return of Jamal Palmer. The linebackers took a hit with Bryce Hager leaving, but they are a far more athletic group.
The major question mark is the secondary, and it was obvious the Bears made that it’s biggest concern with five signees in the secondary. If the cornerbacks are improved and one or both of Ketchum and Houston prove to be a factor, then the Bears may be in for possibly an even better season than the last two.
As long as Art Briles is the head coach at Baylor, a shot at the National Championship will be in sight.