Prior to Art Briles' arrival along the Brazos, Baylor had one first-round draft pick in the Big 12 era. One. In the last three years alone, Baylor has produced three first-round draft picks, including Jason Smith in 2009 and his successor (Watkins) in 2011. Taylor and Watkins were two of the eight Big 12 players drafted during Thursday's first round. Baylor was one of six schools with multiple first-round selections, joining Alabama, Auburn, Colorado, Missouri and Wisconsin.
It's only fitting that two of the biggest reasons for Baylor's return to the bowl scene in 2010 were among the first 32 players selected in the 2011 NFL Draft.
BAYLOR ALL-TIME FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICKS
Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams
Green Bay Packers
Kansas City Chiefs
St. Louis Rams
The 2011 NFL Draft continues with Rounds 2-3 Friday and concludes with Rounds 4-7 Saturday. And three more Baylor Bears are still available and could be drafted with one of the final 222 selections - CB Antareis Bryan, RB Jay Finley and S Byron Landor.
Watkins became only the fourth Canadian to be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft, joining Mike Schad (1986, No. 23 by L.A. Rams), Tony Mandarich (1989, No. 2 by Green Bay) and Tim Biakabutuka (1996, No. 8 by Carolina). Watkins is also the first Canadian to be drafted in both the CFL and NFL Drafts since Schad did so in 1986. In part two of our three-part series, here's the morning-after reaction in Philadelphia after the Eagles took gregarious offensive lineman Danny Watkins with the 23rd overall selection:
Phil's first taste of Cleveland? Madden '12 cover boy and Browns RB Peyton Hillis announced the selection and was the first to meet Phil on stage. In part one of our three-part series, here's the morning-after reaction in Cleveland after the Browns made a big addition to their defensive line, trading up to take "Cousin Phil" with the 21st overall pick:
Mock Drafts: Watkins, Taylor Near First-Round Locks 10:47 A.M., WEDNESDAY, APRIL 27, 2011
Baylor standouts Danny Watkins and Phil Taylor are among the league-record 25 players attending this week's 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York. And with the first round less than 36 hours away, many mock draft boards project both Baylor players to go in the first round. If that happens, it would mark the first time since 1957 that Baylor had multiple players taken in the first round. In fact, Del Shofner and Bill Glass were taken with back-to-back picks in 1957 by the Los Angeles Rams and the Detroit Lions, respectively.
And Baylor fans could see the same thing happen Thursday night with Watkins and Taylor. We've done our best to compile a laundry list of mock draft boards, comparing projections for both Watkins and Taylor. Of the 18 referenced mock draft boards, 12 have both Watkins and Taylor as first-round selections. A full rundown of those mock drafts can be found below.
Epperson was a semifinalist for the 2010 William V. Campbell Trophy, which is considered as the "Academic Heisman." A three-time All-Big 12 honoree, Epperson finished his career third in Baylor history in both punting yards (9,574) and punting average (42.74). He boosted 49 punts of 50-plus yards, ranking second in school history, and launched eight punts of 60 or more yards. He is a three-time Academic All-Big 12 honoree and was named to the ESPN/CoSIDA Academic All-America second team in 2010.
MORE ON DANNY WATKINS Watkins continues to gain media attention for his path from Canadian firefighter to Baylor starting left tackle to potential NFL first-round draft pick. Everyone knows about his cool gesture, inviting five members of his station to NYC. And Baylor is planning to follow Danny and his firefighting brethren during their trip to New York later this month.
Larger Than Life 11:36 A.M., MONDAY, APRIL 18, 2011
This story is a bit outdated, but it's a great one to share nonetheless. Back in February, Cal Farley's Boys Ranch OL LaQuan McGowan signed a National Letter of Intent to play football at Baylor. McGowan literally stands larger than life at 6-foot-8, 360 pounds and wearing a size 21 shoe. That night, Amarillo's KAMR NBC 4/KCIT FOX 14 ran McGowan's remarkable story during the 10 o'clock newscast. Check out McGowan's story below (video courtesy of KAMR NBC 4/KCIT FOX 14):
Baylor Bears in the Professional Ranks 3:47 P.M., FRIDAY, APRIL 15, 2011
There's one more NFL mock draft to add to the list: ESPNDallas.com's Bryan Broaddus projectsPhil Taylor to go 30th overall to the New York Jets and Danny Watkins two spots later at 32nd to the Green Bay Packers. And while Phil Taylor and Danny Watkins continue their quest to give Baylor multiple first-round draft picks for the first time since 1957, there are other former Bears continuing their professional playing careers.
UNITED FOOTBALL LEAGUE (1) Dan Gay IV is Baylor's lone representative in the second-year United Football League (UFL). He is on the Omaha Nighthawks provisional roster, which represents plays whose rights have been protected for the 2011 season. Gay had a 2010 training camp stint with the New York Jets and originally was an undrafted free agent in 2009 with the San Diego Chargers; he was on the Jet's practice squad at the end of the 2009 season.
ARENA FOOTBALL LEAGUE (4) Four Baylor alums are playing in the relaunched Arena Football League - Robert Quiroga, Ernest Smith, Trey Bryant and Trent Shelton. Quiroga, playing in his fourth season, is a WR/LB with the Orlando Predators, recording 30 receptions for 388 yards and six TDs. He also has record 10 solo tackles and added two assisted stops. Smith has 18 catches for 214 yards and two TDs in five games for the Milwaukee Mustangs. Bryant plays on the defensive line for the Kansas City Command, while Shelton has nine receptions for 115 yards and three TDs for the Tulsa Talons.
CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE (3) DL Khari Long enters his third year north of the border and his second with the Calgary Stampeders. He made his CFL debut July 1, 2009, with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and played nearly two full seasons with the Ticats before being released; he signed with Calgary as a free agent in Oct. 2010.
When the 2011 season kicks off, Montez Murphy will be in his fourth season. Murphy returns to the Saskatchewan Roughriders after posting 14 tackles and three sacks in 2010. He played for the Edmonton Eskimos in 2008 and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2009. RB Brandon Whitaker is returning to the Montreal Alouettes for his third season in 2011. Whitaker has 262 rushing yards with two touchdowns in his first two CFL seasons.
Pre-Draft Visits and Mock Drafts 3:48 P.M., THURSDAY, APRIL 14, 2011
Two weeks from today, the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft will air in primetime (7 p.m. CDT) on ESPN. Some of the latest NFL mock draft projections show that Baylor could be closer to boasting multiple first-round NFL draft picks for the first time since 1957. Of the five mock drafts on NFL.com, four of them project Phil Taylor as a first-round selection, while two list Danny Watkins as a first-rounder.
Now that both players are firmly on the first-round radars of NFL teams, they are each making pre-draft visits to several organizations. Taylor has either made visits or has scheduled visits with the New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers and the New Orleans Saints.
Last May, Watkins was taken with the No. 4 overall pick by the B.C. Lions in the 2010 CFL Draft. Vancouver Sun writer Mike Beamish notes that Watkins could become the first Canadian selected in the first rounds of the NFL/CFL drafts since Mike Schad in 1986 (No. 4 by Ottawa Renegades, No. 23 by L.A. Rams).
FSN Releases Big 12 Spring Football Series Schedule 10:47 A.M., FRIDAY, APRIL 8, 2011
FSN kicks off its annual Big 12 Conference Spring Football series this weekend with the first of six 30-minute specials recapping spring drills and previewing the 2011 season for the Texas and Oklahoma schools. The series, now in its 10th season, will be carried on FOX Sports Southwest, FOX Sports Houston and FOX Sports Oklahoma. It begins Saturday, April 9 at 11:00 AM CT with Texas Tech and will be followed by Baylor (Saturday, April 16, 10:00 PM CT), Texas (Sunday, April 17, 10:00 PM CT), Oklahoma State (Saturday, April 30, 10:00 AM CT), Oklahoma (Saturday, April 30, 11:00 AM CT), and Texas A&M (Saturday, April 30, 10:00 PM CT).
Shows will be televised several times throughout the spring and summer, leading to the start of football practice. They'll include spring game highlights, in-depth analysis by the coaching staff, feature stories on players who are expected to make an impact in 2011 and commentary by Scout.com correspondents.
Segments from the shows will be posted on FoxSportsSouthwest.com and FoxSportsHouston.com. Spring football reports and analysis by Scout.com correspondents also will available on the two FOX Sports regional websites.
Baylor alum and football letterwinner Matt Scales and sports reporter Leslie McCaslin visited the Baylor campus March 25 for interviews with head coach Art Briles, defensive coordinator Phil Bennett and player interviews with Robert Griffin III, Terrance Ganaway, Philip Blake, Chris McAllister and Elliot Coffey.
Big 12 football returns to FSN this fall with exclusive game coverage and weekly magazine and coaches shows. The broadcast schedule will be announced prior to the start of the season.
BIG 12 CONFERENCE SPRING FOOTBALL SERIES SCHEDULE FOX Sports Southwest, FOX Sports Houston, FOX Sports Oklahoma *All times CENTRAL; Schedule subject to change
BAYLOR Saturday, April 16 - 10 p.m. Monday, April 18 - Noon Tuesday, April 19 - 4 p.m. Friday, April 22 - 4 p.m. Saturday, April 23 - 5 p.m. (Not available on FOX Sports Houston) Tuesday, May 3 - 6 p.m. (Not available in markets carrying Houston Astros game) Monday, May 9 - 10:30 p.m. (Not available on FOX Sports Houston) Wednesday, May 11 - 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Saturday, May 28 - 10 a.m.