The Baylor Bears are set to welcome 28 new players as part of the Class of 2014, including a five-star wide receiver, three four-star recruits, and 24 three-star prospects. Baylor's class ranks third in the Big 12 and, aside from a handful of junior college transfers, hails entirely from the state of Texas.
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A whopping seven Bears are already enrolled and on campus at Baylor, most of whom -- surprise, surprise! -- are slotted to play in Art Briles' yardage-destroying machine. Among those already brought in on that side of the ball are 3-star guard and JUCO transfer Jarell Broxton and 3-star tight end Jordan Feuerbacher from Humble (Tx.) Kingwood Park. Spending the early parts of his eligibility at Scranton (Pa.) Lackawanna Community College, Broxton was ranked as a top three guard in the JUCO ranks, and could replace the departed Cyril Richardson next year.
Defensive reinforcements have arrived in time for spring practice as well, via inside linebacker Grant Campbell, and cornerbacks Chris Sanders and Tion Wright. All three are JUCO transfers who have 3-star rankings on the 247sports composite, and rate out among the top 30 players at their respective positions this season.
The prizes of this early enrolling group, though, come from two athletes. Davion Hall, a 4-star recruit from Texarkana (Tx.) Liberty-Eylau, considered to be the 5th ranked athlete in the 2014 class, chose the Bears over offers from prestigious programs like Alabama, Texas A&M, LSU, and Texas. Although his reported 6'3, 186 pound frame projects well at safety, Our Daily Bears believes he is destined to play wide receiver at Waco.
SB Nation recruiting analyst Wescott Eberts had this to say about Hall, comparing him to former Cal receiver Keenan Allen:
As a receiver, Hall has the ability to lull defenders to sleep coming off the line of scrimmage before exploding into his route and passing deep safeties down the field. Catching passes, Hall both extends outside his frame naturally and attacks the football even when he could easily cradle it to his body. On short catches, he's difficult to bring down because of his natural strength and willingness to fight for extra yards.
With the ball in his hands, Hall won't be mistaken for a dynamic jump-cutting slot receiver, but he can stem and weave defenders with sharp, high speed cuts to maximize runs after the catch.
The other top athlete, 4-star recruit Terence Williams, will line up in the Baylor backfield, instead. According to the 247sports composite, Williams ranks 230th among all recruits this year, and 18th among all athletes. He also holds the distinction of being the first of Baylor's 2014 commitments, choosing them at their Junior Day and shutting down his recruiting early.
Among Baylor's unsigned commitments is a real gem as well, and you should remember this name -- 5-star wide receiver KD Cannon out of Mount Pleasant, Texas. By far the highest rated future Bear in the 2014 class, Cannon is the 4th ranked wideout this year, according the 247sports composite, and 30th among all players. Though Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Ole Miss, and Florida comprised his final five, Baylor ended up with his commitment, which Briles will be all too glad to have.
For more on Cannon, let's shoot back to Wescott Eberts and his scouting report.
It can often be hard to pinpoint what exactly makes a certain receiver so capable of getting open down the field. For Cannon, a sneaky type of speed that seems to catch opponents and eat up their cushion faster than expected plays a role, as well as his ability to beat cornerbacks who try to get their hands on him. His ability to adjust to the football and throw defenders off with subtle hesitations also help, too...
Two elements of his game that are top notch are his body control and his ability to go up and get the football, which combine to make him an effective target in the redzone and capable of coming down inbounds on difficult plays.
It is worth noting that Cannon is one of four wide receivers being brought in in this class.
Not to be ignored, the Baylor defense figures to receive a big boost themselves from a pair of currently uncommitted linebackers: Wylie (Tx.) High School -- and SB Nation All Name Teamer -- product T'Kevian Rockwell, and James David out of Rockdale (Tx.).
A 4-star talent according to the 247sports composite, Rockwell rates as the 25th best outside linebacker in the 2014 class and a top 35 player in the Lone Star State this year. He chose the Bears over Michigan, Nebraska, and Texas Tech.
David checks in at 3-stars on the 247sports composite and as the 43rd best player in the state. The 6'3, 225 pound inside linebacker had offers from Houston, TCU, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Washington before committing to Baylor.
Overall, the Bears are poised for one of their best recruiting classes in school history, with KD Cannon being a large part of that. Although the raw numbers skew slightly toward defense -- the Bears have 15 total commitments playing there -- the more highly regarded talent is on the point-scoring side. Briles probably wouldn't have it any other way.