Baylor Bears

Baylor faces tough road to remain competitive in Big 12

McLane Stadium in Waco.
McLane Stadium in Waco.

It’s been a tough week in Waco. One by one, Baylor Bears football fans have watched prized prospects from a prized 2016 recruiting class walk out the door.

Four of five signees granted their release have signed on with hated Texas. They include Devin Duvernay, one of the fastest players in the nation, his twin brother Donovan and two hulking linemen that could contend for starting jobs immediately.

Port Arthur Memorial running back Kameron Martin chose to go to Auburn. Waco La Vega’s Parrish Cobb remains undecided, but it appears Oklahoma will be his preferred destination.

According to Brice Cherry of the Waco Tribune-Herald, assuming Cobb leaves, Baylor’s original 22-member class of 2016 will be down to 10. The 2017 recruiting class is in shambles, with the latest gut punch being highly touted quarterback Kellen Mond trading Baylor for Texas A&M.

The defections have helped Texas’ class move into the top seven nationally in rankings by three of the primary recruiting websites. Meanwhile, what was considered perhaps the finest recruiting class ever at Baylor is no more. Such massive loss is difficult to overcome, and the real pain will be felt in the coming seasons when reinforcements are not equal to the players that left.

That’s the stark reality in Waco these days. This season will be tough enough under acting coach Jim Grobe as he tries to pull together the remaining players on a team that’s spirit has been sapped by the sexual assault scandal that cost former coach Art Briles his job.

But the real work comes in the seasons ahead. Baylor will apparently hire a coach for the long term. Once a coach is in place, the leg work begins to return the level of recruiting to a place somewhere near where Briles had it. It will be a daunting task at best.

Briles’ genius as an offensive innovator that led to staggering success that lifted the Bears from Big 12 doormat two two-time conference champion and national playoff contender, attracted playmaking talent at quarterback, wide receiver and running back like never before.

Much of the talent slated for the 2016 and 2017 rosters is now headed elsewhere. And the work for the Baylor football program is only just beginning — again.