National Signing Day was pretty uneventful for Baylor recruiting. The Bears only added one player, junior college offensive lineman Johncarlo Valentin. He still committed back in January. The 330-pound Valentin will provide the Bears with experience and power in the trenches.
Baylor did most of its damage on the recruiting trail earlier in the year. The 22 high school players Baylor signed during December’s early signing period were good enough to rank as the nation’s 16th best class according to ESPN.
Following Signing Day, the Bears finished at 24th in the country, still unprecedented for a team coming off a 1-11 season. Matt Rhule and his staff will look to keep the recruiting momentum going with the extremely talented players in the 2019 class.
Baylor already has four commitments from 2019 players. The early headliner is Round Rock Cedar Ridge receiver Jaylen Ellis. His 3-star rating is not representative of his playmaking ability. Ellis can take the top off of defenses and turn short passes into long gains with his run after the catch ability.
Ellis is joined by two commits from Temple High School, just 30 minutes away from Waco. Defensive end TJ Franklin has the NFL-size Baylor’s staff covets, already measuring at 6-foot-6, 260 pounds. Defensive back Markel Reed, whose only Division I offer is from the Bears, announced his commitment to Baylor last Thursday.
Some Baylor fans were discontent that in Reed’s commitment announcement (since deleted from Twitter), as he said he was still open to recruitment from other schools. Given the demand for 6-foot-2 cornerbacks in today’s game, Reed’s recruitment will likely heat up, and you can’t fault him for keeping his options open.
The fourth commitment is from athlete Hakeem Vance. The Mississippi native plays safety and receiver and is yet another prototypical Rhule recruit. Vance has great size at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, and freakish athleticism. At a recent combine, he recorded a 38.5 inch vertical and 4.42 in the 40-yard dash.
Baylor will try to keep those four players in the fold, while also adding more talent in the months to come. Although it’s early, some definite prospects to watch have already emerged, including a few with connections to existing commitments.
One of those is Austin Bowie receiver Elijah Higgins. He took a Baylor Junior Day visit with his friend and fellow Austin-area standout Ellis.
Higgins is a physical pass catcher at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and excels at making contested catches. A 4-star prospect, he holds offers from Texas and Texas A&M, among others.
Another player with a link to Baylor’s 2019 class is Jared Wiley, a Temple teammate of Franklin and Reed’s. The 6-foot-6 tight end visited Baylor’s Junior Day with his fellow Wildcats.
A trio of players fresh off a 3A State Championship at Newton are also squarely in Baylor’s sights.
Tamauzia Brown is one of the best athletes in the 2019 class. Brown had an insane 12 interceptions in 2017, to go along with 1495 total yards and 18 touchdowns while playing receiver. Brown also serves as Newton’s punter, averaging almost 40 yards per punt in his career.
Fellow Newton Eagle Darwin Barlow is a running back with breakaway speed, who ran for 2246 yards and 38 touchdowns this past season. Somehow, Baylor was the first school to offer him a scholarship.
Baylor also extended a scholarship offer to Newton quarterback Joshua Foster. Although he threw for 30 touchdowns (and ran for another 15) this past season, the 6-foot-0, 160-pound Foster will almost certainly use his athleticism to convert to receiver or defensive back in college.
All three players were in Waco for Baylor’s Junior Day.
Yet another pair of teammates with interest from the Bears are Rockwall’s Anfernee Orji and Jacob Clark. Orji is a safety with good ball skills, and at a rock hard 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, it’s conceivable that Baylor may like him to add some weight and be a really athletic linebacker.
Clark is a 6-foot-5 pro-style quarterback with offers from TCU and Memphis. He threw for 2937 yards and accounted for 38 total touchdowns this season. Although Baylor seems to have its quarterbacks of the future in Charlie Brewer and Gerry Bohanon, Rhule has repeatedly expressed his desire for more scholarship passers.
Orji and Clark also visited Baylor’s Junior Day, along with Orji’s younger brother Alex, who has to be the most physically impressive member of the class of 2022.
This obviously isn’t a comprehensive list, but it’s a good start on who and what Baylor is looking for in 2019. With a summer full of camps and a senior season left to play, there will be tons of new developments and names to keep up within the coming year.