By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Matt Rhule would love to take a few Gatorade showers in the fall.
But for now, the second-year Baylor head coach will have to settle for getting bombarded with water balloons at the end of Saturday’s practice and scrimmage at McLane Stadium.
“My own son walked up and tried to hit me,” Rhule said.
Watching his daughter’s tennis lesson the day before, along with assistant coaches Mike Siravo and Frisman Jackson, he saw “the way (the coaches) make things fun. They’re such great coaches. At the end, the kids went running because they got ice cream.”
That’s what gave Rhule the thought to end Saturday’s workout with a little water balloon fight and ice cream.
“They’ve gone four times this week, let’s have a water balloon fight and let them hit the coaches a little bit and go have some ice cream,” Rhule said, “because our guys are really working hard and I’m proud of that. . . . I told them Coach (Phil) Snow and Coach (George) DeLeone were off-limits.”
Tight ends coach Joey McGuire was not off-limits.
“They all attacked me, all at once,” McGuire said. “Probably not as much as they wanted to get Coach Rhule, but they got me, too. That was fun.”
It was a fun ending to a grind-it-out week that saw the Bears go through four practices in seven days. They will have two more practices on Tuesday and Thursday this week before wrapping up spring drills with the Green and Gold Game at noon next Saturday, April 21, at McLane Stadium.
“I’m pleased with the toughness and the discipline and the attention to detail and all of that,” Rhule said. “To do four practices in one week is really hard. To come out here and scrimmage for 2 ½ hours is really hard. And they’re doing it.”
“One thing about these guys we have is they’re extremely athletic,” McGuire said. “We’re really young. Even with Jamie being a senior, he’s still really young from the standpoint of experience-wise, because he’s played so much defense. But you can see when you grade film just how explosive and how athletic they are. That will translate 1, into catching more passes; but 2, we’re going to be able to get on some linebackers in a hurry.”
A football and basketball player at nearby Midway High School, Jacobs (6-3, 243) will probably still be used in some pass-rushing situations on defense, along with the 6-4, 241-pound Henderson.
“But, Jamie’s going to be a really, really good football player,” McGuire said. “It’s something new to him, and sometimes that challenges you when it’s new. I think he’s got kind of a different sense of urgency in this being his last year.”
Including the 6-6, 247-pound Henle, all three tight ends fit the mold of what Rhule and the staff are looking at in terms of more athletic players who can block and catch the ball.
“Our mindset is more those guys that are right around 245 to 255 and being able to use them in the run game but also in the passing game,” McGuire said. “I think you’ll see that a lot more. The team that won the conference (Oklahoma) used a lot of ‘12’ personnel with (Mark Andrews and Dimitri Flowers) on the field.”
Rhule said the tight end position can be one of the toughest on the field to learn, “because you have to be a master of blocking, route-running and catching the football.”
“With those guys, there’s a lot of things coming at them fast,” he said. “I’m pleased with them. That whole group is giving us a ton of good reps. I think the redshirt year really helped Tyler’s body and gives us a chance to have a guy who is really versatile.”
Another thing that has impressed Rhule is the way the senior class is leading, even injured players like wide receiver Chris Platt.
“Today, I looked at Platt a couple times and said, ‘I probably got on someone too much on offense. Make sure you put your arm around them,’’’ Rhule said. “The older guys kind of know what to expect. . . . After you go through a year, you’re so much more prepared for it.
“I think our senior class has done an absolutely great job. Guys like (defensive linemen) Greg Roberts and Xavier Jones, who was out here and went live today coming off the broken leg from the season. For him to come out and practice live, those guys are really showing a lot of leadership.”