BAYLOR HIGH UP IN WAY TOO EARLY TOP 25 POLLS 5:29 P.M., TUESDAY, Jan. 13, 2015
With the 2014 college football season in the books, the page has already been turned to the 2015 season. Baylor, which ended the 2014 season with its highest-ever final rankings as the Bears were ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press poll and No. 8 in the USA Today/Amway Coaches Poll, is on everyone's radar as a potential preseason top-five team. In five "way too early" preseason top-25 polls, the Bears are ranked anywhere form third to sixth.
Saturday's matchup vs. Northwestern State will be nationally televised on FSN, with kickoff slated for 6:30 p.m. CT. Below is the full TV clearance list for FSN as well as local channel info for Central Texas providers.
As is the case with every NFL preseason, many different players are getting playing time as NFL teams do evaluations to finalize their 2014 rosters. For Baylor, there are over 20 former players in the mix for roster spots in the league. The following is a rundown of what each former Bear has done so far through three weeks of preseason play.
Starting with the AFC teams, guard Cyril Richardson (2010-13) has played in all four preseason games for the Buffalo Bills, making one start.
A pair of former Bears reside with the Cleveland Browns in wide receiver Josh Gordon (2009-10) and defensive tackle Phil Taylor (2009-10). Gordon has played two games while recording three catches for 40 yards (13.3 per catch). Taylor has played in three games and has five tackles.
In Pittsburgh, wide receiver Lanear Sampson (2009-12) has played in two games for the Steelers and has one catch for three yards.
A trio of former BU players are with the Houston Texans in outside linebackers Terrance Lloyd (2010-13), Chris McAllister (2010-13) and long snapper Jon Weeks (2004-07). Lloyd and McAllister have yet to play in preseason action while Weeks has played in all three games so far.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright (2008-11) has played in two of three preseason games. He has four catches for 38 yards (9.5 per catch).
Cornerback Chance Casey (2009-12) has played in three preseason games for the Oakland Raiders and has six tackles.
Wide receiver Tevin Reese (2010-13) has made appearances in all three preseason games with the San Diego Chargers. He has three catches for 30 yards (10.0 per catch).
In the NFC, another trio of former Bears are with the Dallas Cowboys in safety Ahmad Dixon (2010-13), tight end Jordan Najvar (2011-13) and wide receiver Terrance Williams (2009-12). Dixon has 12 tackles in two preseason games. Najvar saw action in last week's preseason game and was targeted once, but suffered a season-ending Achilles injury. Williams has played in all three games, totaling three catches for 21 yards (7.0 per catch).
Center J.D. Walton (2007-09) has yet to appear in preseason action for the New York Giants.
In Washington, quarterback Robert Griffin III (2008-11) and running back Lache Seastrunk (2012-13) have played in three and two preseason games for the Redskins, respectively. Griffin is 13-for-20 for 141 yards with two interceptions. Seastrunk has 17 carries for 98 yards (5.8 per carry).
Defensive end Tracy Robertson (2008-11) has one tackle for the Chicago Bears in one preseason game appearance.
With the Green Bay Packers, cornerback Demetri Goodson (2011-13) has two tackles and two pass deflections in three preseason games.
Veteran kicker Matt Bryant (1997-98) has played in all three preseason contests for the Atlanta Falcons. He's 2-for-3 on field goal attempts with a long of 22 yards.
Offensive linemen Philip Blake (2009-11) and Kelvin Palmer (2010-13) are currently with the Arizona Cardinals and have each played in all three preseason games.
*Note - NFL teams must cut their rosters down to 75 players by Tuesday, Aug. 26, and finalize their 53-man rosters by Saturday, Aug. 30.
Sports Nutritionists Anne Hogan and Dwight Allison talk about how Baylor Athletics fuels freak athletes at Fall Camp 2014. Sic 'em Sports Productions presents Inside #CampBU presented by Allen Samuels Dodge Chrysler Jeep.
Antwan Goodley talks about the Baylor wide receiving corp after the fifth day of practice at Fall Camp. Sic 'em Sports Productions presents Inside #CampBU presented by Allen Samuels Dodge Chrysler Jeep.
Baylor Football's Orion Stewart, Troy Baker, and Spencer Drango take some time to meet the fans at the 2014 Meet to Bears event. Sic 'em Sports Productions delivers another Inside #CampBU presented by Allen Samuels Dodge Chrysler Jeep.
Spencer Drango talks about returning to the field and the offensive line after the fourth day of practice at Fall Camp. Sic 'em Sports Productions presents Inside #CampBU presented by Allen Samuels Dodge Chrysler Jeep.
Art Briles and the Baylor football team took part in the annual photo day on Inside #CampBU Day Four presented by Allen Samuels Dodge Chrysler Jeep. Sic 'em Sports Productions was there to capture it all.
Assistant Athletic Director of Athletic Performance Kaz Kazadi discusses player conditioning on Inside #CampBU Day Two presented by Allen Samuels Dodge Chrysler Jeep. Sic 'em Sports Productions has the story.
As Baylor opens its 2014 Fall Camp, BaylorBears.com will have a daily video feature, Inside #CampBU, which will chronicle the football team's preparation for the upcoming season. Leading off John Morris sat down with head coach Art Briles to get his thoughts going into the first year at McLane Stadium.
The Bears are slated to have 21 days of practice over the next four weeks, before the season opener against SMU on Aug. 31 at 6:30 p.m.
Throughout the rest of the fall, Inside #CampBU will have interviews, highlights, behind-the-scenes features and analysis produced exclusively for BaylorBears.com.
The football team's social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram, @BUFootball, along with Baylor Athletics' Facebook page will provide original content throughout the season.
We are 27 days away from Baylor's season opener against SMU in the inaugural season at McLane Stadium and #CampBU starts Tuesday. Here's a look at what some preseason publications are saying about how the defending Big 12 champions will fair in 2014:
NATIONAL PRESEASON RANKINGS: Average National Rank: 10.2 (10 publications) Sporting News - 7th Phil Steele - 8th ESPN.com - 9th Sports Illustrated - 10th Athlon - 10th Lindy's - 10th NFL.com - 10th CBSSports.com - 11th USA Today - 12th Dave Campbell - 15th
BIG 12 PRESEASON RANKINGS Average Big 12 Rank: 2 (six publications) Athlon - 2nd Dave Campbell - 2nd Lindy's - 2nd Phil Steele - 2nd Sporting News - 2nd USA Today - t2nd
ATHLON Quotable: "Baylor...is a destination for some of the state's best. Briles has turned the Bears from a Texas-sized rag-doll into one of the hottest programs in the country. BU is not merely winning, but it is doing so with a kind of flash that has 18-year-olds around the country paying close attention. The Bears are fashion plates. Their offense is electrifying.."
Predicted Final National Rank: 10th Predicted Big 12 Finish: 2nd (10-2, 7-2, Cotton Bowl)
All-America, second team: Antwan Goodley All-Big 12, first team: Bryce Petty, Shock Linwood, Antwan Goodley, Spencer Drango, Bryce Hager, Spencer Roth All-Big 12, second team: Desmine Hilliard, Troy Baker, Andrew Billings
National Position Rankings: No. 2 WR/TE Unit No. 4 QB Unit No. 13 DL Unit No. 17 OL Unit No. 19 RB Unit Art Briles (No. 5 Coach) Baylor (No. 5 Coaching Staff) DAVE CAMPBELL Predicted Final National Rank: 15th Predicted Big 12 Finish: 2nd (Cotton Bowl)
All-Texas, first team: Bryce Petty, Antwan Goodley, Spencer Drango, Shawn Oakma, Bryce Hager, Spencer Roth All-Texas, second team: Shock Linwood, Levi Norwood
"Best College Player" in Texas: Bryce Petty
LINDY'S Quotable: "Confidence is exquisitely high in Waco, where spectacular McLane Stadium will open in 2014. Indeed, the game has changed at Baylor in every conceivable way. The Bears are so much better off than they were in the RG3 days, it isn't even funny." "BU has become a destination program, as evidenced by the rise of a defense that has legitimate major-program talent. The offense, led by quarterback Bryce Petty, will remain off the charts."
Predicted Final National Rank: 10th Predicted Big 12 Finish: 2nd
All-America, first team: Antwan Goodley All-America, second team: Spencer Drango All-Big 12, first team: Bryce Petty, Shock Linwood, Antwan Goodley, Spencer Drango, Bryce Hager, Spencer Roth All-Big 12, second team: Levi Norwood, Shawn Oakman
National Position Rankings: Antwan Goodley (No. 1 Wide Receiver) Bryce Petty (No. 4 Quarterback) Spencer Drango (No. 4 Offensive Tackle) Spencer Roth (No. 4 Punter) Bryce Hager (No. 5 Inside Linebacker) Shock Linwood (No. 9 Running Back) No. 1 WR Unit No. 3 Backfield Unit No. 9 OL Unit Big 12 Player Awards MVP & "Coolest in the clutch": Bryce Petty "Toughest to bring down": Shock Linwood "Best pass blocker": Spencer Drango "Best recruiting staff": Baylor PHIL STEELE Quotable: "This year they are a legit national title contender again."
Predicted Final National Rank: 9th Predicted Big 12 Finish: 2nd
All-America, first team: Antwan Goodley All-America, third team: Spencer Drango All-America, fourth team: Bryce Petty All-Big 12, first team: Bryce Petty, Shock Linwood, Antwan Goodley, Spencer Drango, Bryce Hager, Levi Norwood (PR) All-Big 12, second team: Levi Norwood (WR), Shawn Oakman, Spencer Roth, Corey Coleman (KR) All-Big 12, third team: Desmine Hilliard, Andrew Billings, Kelvin Palmer All-Big 12, fourth team: Troy Baker
National Position Rankings: No. 1 Receiver Unit No. 3 Quarterback Unit No. 19 DL Unit No. 20 OL Unit No. 32 RB Unit
SPORTING NEWS Quotable: "After winning an outright conference championship for the first time in more than three decades, Baylor has no intention of easing the throttle." "Baylor is capable of hanging a banner after the first year in its new home."
Predicted Final National Rank: 7th Predicted Big 12 Finish: 2nd
Five more Baylor players will get a chance to play on Sundays next season as TERRANCE LLOYD, GLASCO MARTIN, CHRIS MCALLISTER, JORDAN NAJVAR and KELVIN PALMER have all agreed to terms with NFL teams as undrafted free agents.
Those five players join five other Bears from the 2013 Big 12 Championship squad that are set to play at the next level this season. AHMAD DIXON, DEMETRI GOODSON, TEVIN REESE, CYRIL RICHARDSON and LACHE SEASTRUNK were selected in the 2014 NFL Draft.
FSN Southwest will air the Baylor Football Preview Show eight times in the month of May, beginning with its debut Sunday, May 4, at 10 p.m. CT. The show will include interviews with head coach Art Briles and multiple players as well as features on McLane Stadium and BU's strong wide receiver tradition. Below is a full listing of dates and times.
FSN SOUTHWEST BAYLOR FOOTBALL PREVIEW SHOW LISTINGS
Sunday, May 4
10 p.m. CT
Monday, May 5
11:30 p.m. CT
Tuesday, May 6
6 p.m. CT
Wednesday, May 7
4 p.m. CT
Tuesday, May 13
10:30 p.m. CT
Sunday, May 18
10 p.m. CT
Saturday, May 24
12 a.m. CT
Saturday, May 31
5:30 p.m. CT
SIX BEARS SET FOR 2014 NFL COMBINE 7:12 P.M., WEDNESDAY, FEB. 14, 2014
BU's six invitees are the most of any Big 12 school and are tied for the sixth-most in the country.
The annual combine allows top executives, coaches, player personnel staff and medical personnel from all 32 teams to evaluate the nation's top collegiate football players eligible for April's NFL Draft. The combine involves a series of tests, drills and interviews with more than 600 NFL personnel at Lucas Oil Stadium.
On the field testing for Baylor's players will get underway with Najvar and Richardson on Saturday, while Reese and Seastrunk will go through drills on Sunday. Dixon and Goodson will take to the field on Tuesday. Prior to that, all of the players will go through medical screenings, measurements, interviews and psychological testing.
Watch the action all week long beginning on Saturday at 9 a.m. on the NFL Network or online at NFL.com. Follow @BUFootball on Twitter to receive updates on BU combine results.
BAYLOR HAULS IN TOP-25 RECRUITING CLASS 5:07 P.M., THURSDAY, FEB. 6, 2014
Coming off Baylor's first-ever Big 12 Football Championship, head coach Art Briles and his staff once again signed what many believe to be his best signing class.
Here's a look at where Baylor's 2014 signing class ranks according to the four major recruiting websites...
It seems to be a yearly thing in the Briles era, but in comparing the team rankings to earlier seasons, the 2014 class is Baylor's highest ranked class in the Briles era, and for many seasons previous. All four recruiting sites ranked Baylor's class among the top 35 nationally as well as the top four in the Big 12 Conference.
ESPN.com ranked Baylor's class 22nd nationally (the highest of the four sites) and ESPN.com as well as 247Sports.com ranked BU third among the Big 12 signing classes.
Below are the 2014 recruiting rankings.
"The thing that we feel really good about is that we've signed the No. 1 receiving class in America -- I don't think that's up for debate."
WIDE RECEIVER U.? NO DOUBT
By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider
Five years ago, Baylor coach Art Briles talked about how a class of receivers that included Josh Gordon, Tevin Reese and Darius Jones "stacks up with anybody in America."
This one, at least on paper, is better.
On Wednesday, Briles and his staff signed a class of 23 recruits - including seven mid-year enrollees - that was ranked third in the Big 12 and among the top 25 nationally.
"If you're into rankings and all that stuff, that's a good deal," Briles said. "We're into getting really good football players to fit our system and our needs from an athletic standpoint and character standpoint and educational standpoint. We feel like we've been able to hit that this year."
Although it's a balanced class with 12 on offense, 11 on defense and all but one position (quarterback) covered, the highlight is a receiver group that includes two All-Americans and two other Top 300 recruits nationally.
KD Cannon of Mount Pleasant, Texas, and Davion Hall of Liberty-Eylau are two of the program's highest-rated recruits ever - 30th and 38th nationally, respectively - and are joined by Chris Platt of Willis and Ishmael Zamora of Houston Elsik.
"I don't know what the rankings have said," Briles said, "but if there's a better class of receivers in America, then somebody is speaking with forked tongue, because there's just not. There are not four receivers better than who we signed. They're just not out there, not that bring everything these guys bring to the table.
"Somebody could challenge it, but I'm not going to challenge (Baylor guard Brady) Heslip to a 3-point shooting contest, because I'm not going to win. So they can challenge us, but they're not going to win, because we've got facts to back it up, just like (Heslip) does on me. That's reality. That's what's great about where we are as a program is we've got proof to these student-athletes that this can happen and will happen."
Briles calls Cannon, who had 245 catches for 2,953 yards and 51 touchdowns in three seasons, "as pure and smooth a receiver at the high school level as I've ever seen."
"I don't know what the rankings have said, but if there's a better class of receivers in America, then somebody is speaking with forked tongue, because there's just not. There are not four receivers better than who we signed. They're just not out there, not that bring everything these guys bring to the table."
- Art Briles
"When the ball's in his hands, he's as instinctive as anyone I've ever been around, and he high-points the ball as good as anybody."
Hall played quarterback, receiver and defensive back in high school and is "as multiple an athlete as we've ever signed," Briles said, "but we're going to bring him in as a receiver and turn him loose and see what he can do."
Like former Baylor All-American receiver and current Tennessee Titan Kendall Wright, Platt and Zamora have also excelled on the track.
Platt is a three-time 4A state champion in the 400 meters and was clocked in 46.64 seconds last spring, while the 6-4, 195-pound Zamora won the 110-meter hurdles (13.70), placed second in the 300 hurdles (37.08) and fifth in the long jump (22-9 ¼).
"There are phenomenal players that are very, very skilled," Briles said.
Ennis running back Terence Williams (6-3, 220), one of the mid-year enrollees, gives the Bears a fifth national top 300 recruit. He rushed for 3,085 yards and 40 touchdowns the last two seasons and was ranked as high as No. 126 overall nationally by Scout.
"That's always been good for us," said Briles, referring to former Baylor All-American receiver Terrance Williams. "He's another midterm guy we're very proud of and he's on campus and will be a great football player for us like the first one was."
While the skill players tend to draw the headlines, Briles as always built his class on the two lines.
Junior college All-American Jarell Broxton (6-5, 325) from Lackawanna Community College is a mid-year addition who could challenge for one of the two open spots on the offensive line. From the high school ranks, the Bears added Blake Blackmar (6-5, 325) from Houston Clear Lake, Devonte Jones (6-2, 305) from Houston Bellaire, Patrick Lawrence (6-5, 275) from Waxahachie and Josh Pelzel (6-6, 335) from nearby Rockdale.
On the defensive side, the newcomers will be ends Jamie Jacobs from Midway, Xavier Jones from Magnolia (Texas) West and Josh Malin from Cibolo Steele and tackles Ira Lewis from Houston Lamar and Andrew Morris from Mesquite Horn.
"We've always got to be strong up front on both sides of the ball," Briles said. "The games are certainly determined in the trenches when you get down to critical down-and-distance and, of course, protection and rushing the quarterback. But we feel really good about our o-line and d-line class. And those are areas where we're always going to try to be very strong as a team, year-in and year-out. Those guys we signed, some of them are going to be really, really outstanding players before it's all said and done."
On the offensive side, Baylor also signed tight ends Jordan Feuerbacher from Kingwood, Texas, and Blake Mahon from Coppell.
"Jordan is a tough kid who will help us replace (Jordan) Najvar and (Jerod) Monk," Briles said of the two senior tight ends the Bears lost. "(Feuerbacher) is a kid who can get on the field and be a physical blocker, and he has the ability to stretch the field running."
The other mid-year signees were linebacker Grant Campbell from Bakersfield, Calif., and defensive backs Chris Sanders from Eastern Arizona College and Tion Wright from Moorpark College.
Campbell has made the rounds, playing center field for the baseball team at Cal State Bakersfield in 2012 and then switching to football and playing the last two seasons at Bakersfield College. He will get a chance in the spring to earn the starting job left by All-Big 12 linebacker Eddie Lackey.
Sanders is also well-traveled, playing three games as a true freshman at Georgia in 2011 before a season-ending shoulder injury and then playing last season at Eastern Arizona, where he had 35 tackles and three interceptions in 10 games.
After losing senior cornerbacks K.J. Morton, Joe Williams and Demetri "Meech" Goodson, Sanders and Wright are both in line for playing time next season.
Rounding out the class are high school defensive backs Jourdan Blake from Princeton, Texas, Vekedric Vaughns from Mesquite Poteet and Chance Waz from Pflugerville Hendrickson.
Blake is the son of former Oklahoma head coach John Blake and played quarterback and defensive back for former OU defensive lineman Stacey Dillard at Princeton. He joins a growing list of former prep quarterbacks that includes Kendall Wright, Terrance Ganaway, Brody Trahan and Monk that have switched to other positions at Baylor.
"Jourdan played quarterback this year and did a great job, quite honestly," Briles said. "We've always recruited high school quarterbacks, without question, because that's where a lot of teams are going to put their most dynamic player that they have a lot of confidence and trust in. He might project at that position at the next level, but he's a great athlete, which Jourdan Blake is. That's a guy who's used to having people look at him and depend on him, and I think it does translate and helps out at this level, no question."
Instead of scrambling at the finish line, or trying to hold on to recruits, Briles said it was a rare year when "nearly all of them were committed by June and nearly all of them have stayed true all the way."
"They had a chance to date other people, and didn't do it. That really says a lot about them and a lot about the direction of our football program, our university, our visibility, our national brand and our regional brand. . . . We're not trying to emulate anybody else. We are doing what we're doing and we're doing it better than anybody else. That starts from the top of our university and bleeds down to us."
DALLAS, Texas - Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk won the Eckrich Obstacle Course competition at the 2014 Quicken Loans All-Star Football Challenge, which aired from AT&T Stadium in Dallas Tuesday night on ESPN2. Seastrunk clocked a time of 27.48 seconds to defeat Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley (28.03) and BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy (28.92) for the title.
The 16th annual event showcased 16 college football standouts competing in an exciting and entertaining skills challenge, which will re-air on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. ET on Feb. 2, as well as on ESPN at 4 p.m. ET on April 27. The ESPN broadcast team included Joe Tessitore, Todd McShay, Mark May, Chris Spielman, Raul Allegre and Kaylee Hartung.
The Quicken Loans All-Star Football Challenge is one of seven live television properties owned and operated by Intersport.
DIXON, RICHARDSON TO PLAY IN SATURDAY'S SENIOR BOWL 2:47 P.M., FRIDAY, JAN. 24, 2014
Baylor seniors Ahmad Dixon and Cyril Richardson will represent Baylor in the Reese's Senior Bowl, set to played Saturday (Jan. 25) at 3 p.m. CT at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. The game will be televised live on the NFL Network. Both Dixon and Richardson will play for the North team, and will wear their familiar Baylor jersey numbers (6 and 68, respectively). For more information on the game, click here.
2013 All-America, first team
2013 All-Big 12, unanimous first team
2014 Senior Bowl
2012 All-Big 12, honorable mention
2011 All-Big 12, honorable mention
All-American safety and three-year starter, made 288 career tackles, 12 breakups and four interceptions... Invited to play in 2014 Senior Bowl... Member of senior class that played in four straight bowl games for first time in school history and earned program's first Big 12 Championship and BCS Bowl berth in 2013... Started 38 (26 at hybrid LB/DB, 12 at safety) of 50 career games played... Named first-team All-America as senior in 2013, two-time honorable mention All-Big 12 selection in 2012 and 2011... Local Waco native and former prep All-American, highest rated recruit to Baylor in several years (No. 15 national recruit by ESPNU 150)... Timed at 4.39 in 40-yard dash... Passionate, vocal, leader.
Ahmad Dixon looks like mini tank at 5-11 1/2, 205.
2013 All-America, unanimous first team
2013 Jim Parker Award winner
2013 Outland Trophy finalist
2014 Senior Bowl
2013 Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year
2013 All-Big 12, unanimous first team
2012 All-America, second team
2012 Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year
2012 All-Big 12, unanimous first team
2011 All-Big 12, honorable mention
2010 Big 12 All-Freshman
Dominant two-time All-American offensive lineman, three-year starter... League's only two-time Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year (2012 and 2013), also three-time All-Big 12 honoree... 2013 Jim Parker Award winner and 2013 Outland Trophy finalist... Invited to play in 2014 Senior Bowl... 2013 unanimous All-American, just seventh such honoree in school history... Fifth multi-season All-American in Baylor history... Member of senior class that played in four straight bowl games for first time in school history and earned program's first Big 12 Championship and BCS Bowl berth in 2013... Started 42 (29 at left guard, 13 at left tackle) of 51 career games played... Earned second-team All-American honors as junior in 2012... Played LG as senior (2013), junior (2012) and redshirt freshman (2010), was starting left tackle as sophomore (2011)... Has benched 400 pounds and recorded 32 reps on 225-pound bench... Squatted 665 pounds... Native of New Orleans, moved to Texas as Hurricane Katrina refugee... Earned undergraduate degree in December 2013 in general studies.
Cyril Richardson an impressive 6044 343...extra weight there, but looks like he could move a truck
NAJVAR SET FOR EAST-WEST SHRINE GAME SATURDAY 2:16 P.M., FRIDAY, JAN. 17, 2014
Baylor senior tight end Jordan Najvar will be Baylor's sixth player under head coach Art Briles to play in the East-West Shrine Game on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT. Najvar is slated to play for the West in the longest running college all-star game in the country that will celebrate its 89th-game this weekend. The all-star game gives draft eligible college seniors a chance to be in front of scouts. This year's game will be played at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. You can catch the game live on NFL Network. For more information on the game, click here.
Three-year All-Big 12 selection and starter at tight end played 38 games (19 starts)
Former transfer from Stanford in 4th season at BU
Member of 2013 O-Line that led nation in total yards (618.8 ypg) and scoring (52.4 ppg)
Career highs of 4 catches and 27 yards in 2013 win at TCU
Caught 35 passes for 411 yards and four TDs in three years of action
Two-time Mackey Award watch list member
Earned 2013 All-Big 12 honorable mention honors from league's coaches
Semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy
Played all 13 games as junior, starting three
Played in all 13 games, including eight starts in 2011
PALMER TO PLAY IN 2014 COLLEGE ALL-STAR BOWL 9:10 P.M., THURSDAY, JAN. 16, 2014
Baylor senior offensive lineman Kelvin Palmer will get a chance to showcase his skills in front of NFL scouts at the 2014 College All Star Bowl on Feb. 14, after being selected to play in the game earlier this week. In its second season, the all-star game features a platform for draft eligible college seniors to showcase their talents in front of scouts. The 2014 edition of the game will be played at Paladin Stadium on the Furman University campus. You can catch the game live at 5 p.m. on CBS Sports Network. For more information on the game, click here.
5th-year senior played in 45 games and started 10 at RT, 3 at LT
Started every game on offensive line for Big 12 champion Bears in 2013
Key member of blocking unit for America's top offense as BU led nation in yards (618.8) and scoring (52.4)
Played in all 13 games in junior season as reserve offensive lineman and special teamer
Played in all 13 in 2011 as sophomore, serving on special teams and as reserve offensive lineman
Participated in six of 13 games as redshirt freshman in 2010
BAYLOR RECEIVES HIGH MARKS IN 2014 PROJECTIONS 11:10 P.M., MONDAY, JAN. 13, 2014
According to a host of media outlets, the future for Baylor Football is bright. Below is a look at the upcoming season forecast from eight different publications that all have the Bears in their top-15 for 2014.
FOX SPORTS Rank: No. 5 What They're Saying: The loss of RB Lache Seastrunk is a big concern for the Big 12 champions, as does replacing three offensive linemen, including an All-American. But regardless of whose not there, the Bears still return plenty of firepower in their bid to repeat in conference behind QB Bryce Petty (3,844 yards and 30 TDs). The defense will be down seven starters, including four in the secondary after a year in which the group was dramatically improved. Having All-Big 12 LB Bryce Hager (71 tackles) will help, but the Bears will once again have their doubters on this side of the ball.
NBC SPORTS Rank: No. 7 What They're Saying: Heisman candidate Bryce Petty returns to lead what could be the best offense in college football. Tailback Lache Seastrunk is heading to the pros, but his able backup, Shock Linwood, returns and could be even more productive. The Bears were one of the most improved defenses in the country this past season, but will have to find able replacements for Ahmad Dixon and Eddie Lackey if they want to remain in the upper echelon of the Big 12.
ATHLON SPORTS Rank: No. 8 What They're Saying: The defending Big 12 champions should be in good shape to repeat in 2014. Quarterback Bryce Petty is back after throwing for 3,844 yards and 30 touchdowns, and the Bears' supporting cast should be solid even if running back Lache Seastrunk decides to leave for the NFL. A big concern for Baylor will be an offensive line that loses three senior starters, including All-America guard Cyril Richardson. However, getting left tackle Spencer Drango back to full strength and a full season from tackle Troy Baker should keep this unit near the top of the Big 12. The defense finished the regular season allowing the fewest yards per play in the Big 12 (4.5), but coordinator Phil Bennett will have to replace some key players, including defensive ends Terrance Lloyd and Chris McAllister, along with safety Ahmad Dixon and linebacker Eddie Lackey.
YAHOO! SPORTS Rank: No. 10 What They're Saying: Head coach Art Briles is staying, as is record-setting QB Bryce Petty, who led FBS' top-ranked offense last season. The Bears weren't great on defense and will have to replace six starters -- not a problem with the talent pool in Texas.
USA TODAY SPORTS Rank: No. 11 What They're Saying: Why No. 11? Because Art Briles is back. That alone - Briles was considered in connection with the Texas job - ensures another season among the nation's elite. Solidifying this idea is the return of quarterback Bryce Petty, though running back Lache Seastrunk did choose to leave early and enter the NFL draft. Even with Seastrunk gone, the question marks will lie on the defensive side of the ball - even if Baylor's defense was underrated in 2013. Perhaps a bigger issue is road games against Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
ESPN.com Rank: No. 12 What They're Saying: With coach Art Briles committing to stay at Baylor, it will be the favorite to repeat as Big 12 champion in 2014. Quarterback Bryce Petty is coming back to run Briles' fast-paced spread offense, but tailback Lache Seastrunk is entering the NFL draft. Rising sophomore Shock Linwood ran well when Seastrunk and backup Glasco Martin were hurt late in the season. Baylor will have to replace three starting offensive linemen, including All-American guard Cyril Richardson, as well as wide receiver Tevin Reese. Baylor also will have to replace six starters on defense, including safety Ahmad Dixon and cornerbacks K.J. Morton and Demetri Goodson.
CBSSports.com Rank: No. 12 What They're Saying: The surprisingly listless loss to UCF took some of the shine off of the Bears' Big 12 championship season, but with Bryce Petty (presumably) and Art Briles coming back, there's no reason to think they can't repeat. Wideout Tevin Reese and NFL-bound tailback Lache Seastrunk were excellent players, but the skill positions under Briles seem to be plug-and-play.
SI.com Rank: No. 15 What They're Saying: Quarterback Bryce Petty is coming back. The Bears know what the big time feels like now, and they're not happy to have come up empty against UCF in the Fiesta Bowl. Art Briles will develop new wrinkles to add to the offense, and even though it might not put up such gaudy scoring totals in the next go-round, it'll keeping winning football games. Plus, there's that whole new stadium with the sailgating and whatnot.
DIXON'S DECISION TO STAY HOME PAYS OFF IN BIG WAY 11:10 P.M., SUNDAY, DEC. 29, 2013
By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Ahmad Dixon is the kind of talent that Baylor could once only dream about.
Four-star recruits - even ones in their own back yard - weren't about to spurn offers from national powerhouses like Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma and Texas to take a chance on the Bears.
"When I committed to Baylor, everybody was like, `Oh, he's just doing that for show. He's not going to stick with it,''' said the 6-foot, 205-pound All-American safety from nearby Midway High School. "I had some of my own family questioning, `Why are you doing that? You know we're not coming to any Baylor games.' I had people that I really thought were in my corner that turned on me, all because I came to Baylor."
As off-the-wall as that decision seemed four years ago, it was a leap of faith that has paid off for both Dixon and the Bears. While Baylor has won a school-record 11 games and its first-ever Big 12 championship, Dixon earned All-America and All-Big 12 honors as a senior and is expected to go in the first three rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft.
"Nobody ever thought Baylor would be 11-1, going to a BCS bowl game and doing the things that we've done," said Dixon, who had 70 tackles, one interception, a fumble recovery and six pass breakups this season. "When things started clocking, that's when everybody started realizing we really can be this good. We started chanting, `Big 12 Champs!' that summer going into the 2011 season. So, we had faith, we believed in it. We just had to get everybody else to see it."
That's the thing, Dixon believed in head coach Art Briles and the Baylor Bears long before the proof was there. While de-committing from Texas, a team that won the 2009 Big 12 title and played against Alabama, another suitor, in the BCS National Championship game, he ultimately signed with a Baylor team that was coming off back-to-back 4-8 seasons and hadn't been to a bowl game in 15 years.
Asked why he would make a decision that seemed so crazy at the time, Dixon answers, "Coach Briles."
"Nobody ever doubted Coach Briles - his vision, his plan, his dream," he said. "Nobody ever asked him, `How are you going to do that?' They just knew it was going to happen. And when your coaching staff and everyone around you has that much faith in you, who wouldn't want to be a part of that? Who wouldn't want to be one of those guys to help make that dream come true?"
But the real closer was Lisa Dixon.
"I'm a mama's boy, so I love being around my mom," said Ahmad, an all-state and All-American at Midway who was ranked the No. 2 defensive back prospect in the nation. "I love to be around my family, so staying at home was part of my decision. I wanted to stay home, so why not help out this team that Coach Briles is about to rise up?"
And while some of the family might have questioned the decision, mom and dad were both on board.
"We prayed about it. And at the time, when they told me to come to Baylor, I didn't even understand it," Dixon said. "It was a plan that God had for me. And at the time, I wasn't ready to leave home. As a man, as a young man, I wasn't ready. This is the plan that God had for me, and this is the plan that I love."
Even if the plan wasn't anywhere close to his. As a backup safety and special teams player, Dixon was one of six true freshmen who played in 2010, finishing with 16 tackles, one forced fumble and two kickoff returns.
"At first, I wanted to say, `Why couldn't I redshirt?''' he said. "But now, I realize that I was one of those guys that didn't need to redshirt. Not from the sense of playing, but as far as maturity. . . . (In 2011), we didn't have many vets. Most of the guys out there were either redshirt freshmen or true sophomores. We needed guys, so I was one of those guys that we needed."
The real fun began the next spring, when Phil Bennett was hired as the defensive coordinator and moved Dixon to nickel back, a hybrid safety/linebacker position.
"I had to grow up fast," he said. "And I don't mean one-season fast, I mean in a couple of weeks I had to grow up. It was either that or be replaced. Coach Bennett was going to find the right guys. And for you to be that right guy, you had to grow up, you had to mature, you had to learn everything and you had to understand how he coaches."
For a year or two, it was a clash of wills and personalities in a coach-player relationship that bordered on war when the two were on the field.
"I knew him, I knew his heart," said Bennett, when asked if it ever got to the point where he didn't think it would work. "And I'm too egotistical. There's not a kid I can't coach. I just knew his spirit, and I never wanted to break his spirit. I just wanted him to get more focused, more determined, and I wanted him to mature to a level - which he has - where he could do anything he wants. The sky's the limit for Ahmad."
Playing down in the box for the first time in his football career, Dixon started 26 consecutive games and racked up 191 tackles while helping the Bears to back-to-back bowl victories and a combined record of 18-8.
At the end of last season, Dixon was struggling with a decision whether to come back for his senior season or enter the NFL Draft a year early. The defining moment came when he was riding on the team bus after the Bears' 49-26 Holiday Bowl win over UCLA and received a text message from Bennett.
"Coach Bennett texted me and told me, `We're going to move you back to safety,''' Dixon said. "When he told me that, it brought a chill over me, because I had already thought about leaving, but I was like, that's not the smart thing to do. The smart thing to do is to come back, get my degree, keep growing, keep moving forward. We had everybody coming back on defense, so I knew everything would be what it is today. . . . . That's when I knew I didn't need to go anywhere. I needed to stay here, play one more year at Baylor University and become the player and man that I am today."
That road seemed to hit a detour in mid-September, when the senior safety was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault on a man who allegedly stole his television. But the coaches never doubted or lost faith in Dixon, who was ultimately cleared in December when a grand jury "no-billed" the case.
"The first thing they did was sit me down and ask me what happened," Dixon said. "And I told them everything that happened, from the robbery all the way up until everything. They were like, `OK, we're going to move forward. And whatever happens when it happens, we're going to deal with it then.' . . . It lifted up a burden. Most teams, most guys would be like, `I have to worry about this.' But (head coach Art Briles) and Coach Bennett told me, `Don't worry about that. When the time comes, we'll deal with it.' They told me, `Just play ball. Keep doing what you're doing.'''
That was another issue. With the new targeting rules that penalize defenders for helmet-to-helmet hits and shots on "unprotected" players, the concern going into the season was how many games Dixon would miss. He is one of the most physical safeties in college football and prides himself on the big hit.
"That was the question everybody was asking: How many games do you think you're actually going to get to play?" said Dixon, who was ejected from the TCU game and forced to sit out the first half of the regular-season finale against Texas because of a targeting penalty. "How far can I go? What are my limits? And as the season went on, I figured it out. I went over my limit one time and had to pay for it. But for the most part, I figured out my limit early, and it worked out for the good."
It's the same quality that makes Dixon such a hot commodity for NFL scouts. As a bigger safety that can cover receivers and also deliver crushing blows, he's expected to go in the first three rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft.
"I don't really care about the draft spot," said Dixon, who will play in next month's Senior Bowl. "I just go out there and do what I do. If a team passes me up, they'll realize what they passed on. And whatever team gets me, they'll know that they got a great player."
In Wednesday's Fiesta Bowl matchup against 15th-ranked UCF (11-1), Dixon will be facing a quarterback that could be one of the first players taken in the draft. UCF quarterback Blake Bortles said he still hasn't decided whether he's coming back, but he's projected to be one of the first quarterbacks drafted, possibly going ahead of Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater.
"He's not going to shy away from anything, any contact," Dixon said. "He's not going to force anything. He's just going to play how he plays. . . . You've got to be on your p's and q's. You can't be lulled to sleep, because they're a slower offense than what we're used to seeing. You've just got to go out there and play ball."
BEARS IN THE NFL: WEEK 15 UPDATE 10:43 P.M., TUESDAY, DEC. 17, 2013
The 2013 Baylor team will wear NIKE retro uniforms in honor of the 1950 squad at Saturday's game vs. Texas, the final game ever at Floyd Casey Stadium. Game-worn retro uniform sets, including the helmet, jersey and pants, are priced at $750 for the set of three items, and will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis. To order a set in advance, e-mail BUFBEquipment@baylor.edu. The set is being sold as-is, and helmets are game used for display purposes only. Sales tax is included in the price of the uniform package.
This football helmet is FOR DISPLAY PURPOSES ONLY. The football helmet is sold "AS IS" and WITHOUT WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION ANY WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. THE LIABILITY, IF ANY, OF SELLER FOR DIRECT DAMAGES WHETHER ARISING FROM SELLER'S NEGLIGENCE, INDEMNITY, STRICT LIABILITY OR OTHER TORT, OR OTHERWISE WITH RESPECT TO THE GOODS IS LIMITED TO AN AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED THE PRICE OF THE PARTICULAR GOOD GIVING RISE TO THE LIABILITY.
Below is the list of jersey numbers available. Email top 5-10 choices to BUFBEquipment@baylor.edu. There are no refunds or exchanges.
BEARS IN THE NFL: WEEK 13 UPDATE 2:41 P.M., TUESDAY, DEC. 3, 2013