Aug. 23, 2012
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Baylor is coming off its most successful
football campaign in decades - a 2011 season in
which the Bears won a school-record 10 games,
earned their first bowl victory in 19 years
(Alamo Bowl win over Washington), finished
with the school's highest final ranking (12th
ESPN/USA Today, 13th AP) since 1986, set or
tied 119 school records, and had the program's
first-ever Heisman Trophy winner in Robert
Griffin III - but head coach Art Briles is quick
to point out that his program has room for
"Our best days are ahead, and that's what's
exciting," Briles said. "We have a very
determined football team that's very eager to
prove themselves. We still have a lot of room
for improvement, which is good because you're
never going to get better unless you're
determined to get better."
Briles and staff will take on that challenge
with 50 returning lettermen and 14 returning
starters (eight on defense, six on offense, plus
Baylor enters 2012 riding a six-game winning
streak, the third-longest among FBS schools.
"As a program we feel like we've earned an
elevated level," Briles said. "We're passed the
`hope' stage and into the `reality' stage. We are
a legitimate contender and we have to stay that
way. Right now we're fighting to sustain to stay
at that level. We walk out there on the field and
we have to play our best game."
The Bears' 2012 schedule is highlighted by
eight games vs. 2011 bowl teams: Iowa State,
Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, SMU,
TCU, Texas and West Virginia (including six
champions); as well as the FCS national runnerup
(Sam Houston State).
The record-setting offense has several large
shoes to fill, beginning with consensus National
Player of the Year Griffin III, but is loaded with
talent - both experienced and young - ready to
step up to the challenge of maintaining success.
Gone are five players drafted into the NFL,
including a trio that led the offense to break or
tie 101 records, the school's all-time leading
passer, RG3, all-time leading receiver, All-
American Kendall Wright, and single-season
rushing leader, Terrance Ganaway.
Briles acknowledges the inevitable hole to fill
in replacing a player as uniquely talented as
Griffin III, and points out the opportunity his
"You're talking about the guy that was the
best player in college football last year," Briles
said. "You're going to have to do things
differently. That's what makes it exciting to a
certain extent. We're going to have to have
people become more accountable and become
But back are six starters and 24 lettermen on
offense, as well as architects Briles (a 2011 Bear
Bryant Coach of the Year Award finalist) and
offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery
(named the 2011 Rivals.com Offensive
Coordinator of the Year).
Baylor's offensive system will likely continue
to be thought of as a pass-happy scheme when,
in reality, it's predicated on effectively running
"Running the football consistently, that's our
strength," Briles said of the balanced Baylor
offense that ranked 10th nationally with 235.6
rushing yards per game and fourth nationally
with 351.5 passing yards - the only school in
the nation to rank in the top 10 in both
categories. The Bears ranked second nationally
with 587.1 total offensive yards per game.
The Baylor ground game has produced back-to-
back 1,000-yard rushers, and NFL draft
picks, in school career-record holder Jay Finley,
who ran for 1,218 yards and 12 TDs in 2010 and
school single-season record holder Ganaway,
who rushed for records of 1,547 yards and 21
TDs in 2011.
Paving the way for that ground attack is
Baylor's OFFENSIVE LINE that has recently
produced a steady stream of NFL Draft picks
under the tutelage of running game coordinator
Randy Clements. Baylor is one of just three
schools in the nation (along with Iowa and
Wisconsin) that has had an offensive lineman
drafted in each of the last four NFL Drafts
(Baylor and Wisconsin are the only two with an
OL drafted among the top four rounds of each
the of last four drafts). The 2012 draftees that
must be replaced are center Philip Blake (4th
round, Broncos) and guard Robert T. Griffin
(6th round, Jets).
The 2012 line boasts a mixture of proven
veterans and skilled youth led by honors
candidates Ivory Wade and Cyril Richardson.
Wade, a preseason All-Big 12 candidate,
moved from tackle to Blake's vacated center
spot in the spring. The fourth-year senior has
started a team-high 33 career games heading
"He's going to be our leader and our guy up
front that has to really anchor things,"
Montgomery said. "We expect big things from
Backup at center will be veteran fourth-year
junior Stefan Huber.
Richardson, a returning All-Big 12 honoree
and Outland Trophy and Rotary Lombardi
Award candidate, is expected to start at left
guard this fall after moving from left tackle
during the spring.
"Cyril will dominate wherever he goes,"
Briles said of the fourth-year junior with 17
During fall camp the starter at right guard
was penciled in as veteran fifth-year senior Jake
The reserves at guard are led by veteran
starter recovering from injury Cameron
Kaufhold, a two-year starter who started all 13
games at right guard in 2011. The fifth-year
senior has played in all 38 games during his
Remaining backups include youngsters Tim
Smith (sophomore) and Desmine Hilliard
Listed at starter at left tackle following spring
was talented youngster Spencer Drango, a
redshirt freshman praised by coaches for his
toughness and maturity. Drango, a 2011
Rivals250 recruit, will be backed-up by junior
"Spencer's got an old man's mentality, which
is good," Briles said. "He has a tough mentality,
with the build to back it up."
The job at right tackle is in the hands of
another underclassman, as Troy Baker entered
fall camp as the starter. Baker is a third-year
sophomore from Waco's Connally High School.
Redshirt freshman Pat Colbert was listed No. 2
at RT on the fall camp depth chart.
The BACKFIELD will have some new faces
in starting roles in 2012, as experienced veterans
take over for departed superstars.
The options to replace Ganaway at running
back are varied. Veterans Jarred Salubi and
Glasco Martin, as well as decorated transfer
Lache Seastrunk, will all vie to be the primary
Listed No. 1 on the fall camp depth chart was
Salubi, a Doak Walker Award candidate and
fifth-year senior with 844 career rushing yards.
The versatile and elusive scat-back also has 29
career receptions for 234 yards. Coaches want
Salubi, a Waco native, to become a more
dominating player on each snap.
Martin is a hard-running fourth-year junior
who had what coaches describe as a "solid
spring." He rushed for 289 yards on 40 carries
(6.7 yards-per-carry) and two TDs in 2011.
"Glasco is a very aggressive, powerful
runner," Montgomery said, "who hits the hole
like he's mad at something."
The 2012 season will be the much-anticipated
debut for Seastrunk, a former prep All-
American who sat out the 2011 season at Baylor
after transferring from Oregon. A sophomore
from nearby Temple, Texas, Seastrunk stole the
headlines during BU's spring scrimmage when
he totaled 138 yards on seven carries and
scored on a 75-yard TD run.
"Lache showed some flashes," Briles said.
"He really finished up his last couple weeks
being consistent." Coaches praised Seastrunk's
improvement throughout the spring.
"Lache is a guy who is growing and
maturing," Montgomery said. "He's a very
explosive player who is very strong and very
fast. He can break it at any time."
The fullback position remains manned by
returning All-Big 12 blocker Erik Wolfe. Wolfe
is a second-year first-stringer and walk-on
The majority of headlines heading into
Baylor's 2012 season revolve around replacing
Heisman-winner Griffin III. The incumbent at
QUARTERBACK is seasoned veteran Nick
Florence, a Unitas Golden Arm Award watch
list selection and fourth-year senior with 17
career appearances, seven starts and 1,992
career passing yards.
Florence, a mature, smart leader, was the
starter in 2009 as a true freshman following an
injury to Griffin III. He threw for a then-school
record 427 yards in a road upset at Missouri.
More recently, he spelled RG3 in the second
half of a 2011 game vs. Texas Tech and threw
for 151 yards and two TDs and led Baylor to 31
second-half points and a decisive win.
The other option at QB is third-year
sophomore Bryce Petty, a big, strong-armed
thrower with deceptive scrambling ability.
Petty played in five games in 2011 and
completed 3 of 4 passes for 43 yards.
"Bryce has improved a bunch on taking care
of the football," Briles said. "His mentality has
Florence was listed atop the depth chart
heading into fall camp, but Briles said: "It
doesn't matter who our starting quarterback is
(now)," Briles said, "it will matter Sept. 2."
Briles said regardless of which player starts,
the key will be efficiency. "We have to be
efficient at that position," he said. "Both of
these guys have the right mindset, they're good
leaders. They aren't worried about `them'; they
are worried about `us'."
Despite the loss of the most prolific receiver
in school history in first-round NFL Draft pick
Wright (Titans), Baylor returns a deep and
talented RECEIVING CORPS that includes
two Biletnikoff Award watch listers, led by
Maxwell Award and All-America candidate
Terrance Williams, All-Big 12 candidate Tevin
Reese as well as veteran Lanear Sampson - a
trio of 1,000-yard career receivers who all
totaled more than 40 receptions and 500 yards
last season. Six of last season's top seven
receivers return in 2012.
All-Big 12 returnee Williams is a fifth-year
senior and third-year starter at wide receiver
who ranks among the top receivers in school
history. The Biletnikoff Award candidate is
coming off a 2011 season in which he made 59
receptions for 957 yards and 11 touchdowns in
the shadow of All-American Wright.
The coaching staff expects big things from the
explosive Williams in his final season at Baylor.
"Terrance needs to become a 1,500-yard receiver
for us," Briles said. "He's that good."
The other No. 1 outside is fourth-year starter
and burner Sampson. He has 32 career starts
(second on team), 113 career receptions (10th in
school history) and a 30-game reception streak
(third nationally among active FBS players
heading into 2012). Sampson has clocked a 4.34
40-yard dash and is coming off a 42-catch, 572-
yard 2011 campaign.
Adding valuable depth to the mix is senior
transfer Darryl Stonum, a 1,000-yard (career)
receiver and record-breaking returner in three
seasons at Michigan.
Backups at wide receiver are Antwan
Goodley and Jay Lee. Goodley is a third-year
sophomore with a unique blend of strength and
speed and "unbelievable hands"; Lee is a big,
talented redshirt freshman who will make his
debut in 2012.
Filling the vacancy at inside receiver vacated
by Wright will be another Biletnikoff Award
candidate in Reese, an elusive, quick junior who
had 877 yards and seven TDs on 51 receptions
"Tevin is extremely fast, and his hands have
gotten so much better," Montgomery said of the
third-year former track star who made seven
starts in 2011.
Listed as the second starter inside is third year
sophomore Levi Norwood. A smooth,
fluid receiver and kick returner, Norwood
should see many more touches in 2012 after
totaling six receptions as a redshirt freshman in
"Levi is real slippery," Montgomery said.
"He's great at making the first defender miss."
Also in the rotation at inside receiver are
sophomore Clay Fuller, an athletic 25-year-old
former professional baseball player, and senior
walk-on Michael Valdez. Another possible
contributor at receiver is true freshman Corey
Coleman, a highly touted signee from Pearce
High School in Richardson, Texas.
The tight end position is stacked with
talented veterans Jordan Najvar and Jerod
"Both of those guys are big, complement
each other really well, and are vital to what we
do offensively" Montgomery said. "Najvar is a
very strong, aggressive blocker who adds
nastiness. Monk is a finesse catcher who does a
great job running routes."
Najvar is a returning All-Big 12 honoree and
Mackey Award candidate who made six starts
in 2011. A junior and former transfer from
Stanford, he caught 15 passes and two TDs in
Monk is a fourth-year senior with 36 career
games played. The former high school
quarterback totaled 100 yards and two TDs on
nine receptions in 2011 and has career scores
via passing, rushing and catching.
Observers will continue to look for
improvement on the defensive side of the ball
in 2012, and second-year defensive coordinator
Phil Bennett will have a deeper, more
experienced pool of talent to work with.
The Bears defense returns 21 lettermen and
eight starters from 2011, including eight of the
top nine tacklers from a year ago.
"I see improvement, without question,"
Briles said of the defense following the spring.
"You can't buy experience. When you step on
the field you've got to play. You got to be in the
situation and that's what these guys have done,
they've been there and now they are going to
do that. I'm excited about them."
The coaching staff expects the defense to be
led by veteran upperclassmen like Mike Hicks,
Ahmad Dixon and Gary Mason Jr., as well as
sophomore signal-caller Bryce Hager.
The DEFENSIVE LINE returns starters at the
edges as well as new - but veteran - starters
On the outside Baylor will line up with third-year
starters Mason (senior) and Terrance
Lloyd (junior), who coaches expect to set the
tone for the defense.
Mason finished with eight tackles for loss in
2011, including 2.5 sacks for -23 yards. The
fifth-year veteran has played in 35 career games
and his 19 career starts are the most among
BU's defensive players.
Lloyd is a fourth-year junior with 17 career
starts, who totaled 36 tackles in 2011, including
seven tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
"Both Terrance and Mason have to step up
and play at a high level," Bennett said of his
Expected to see plenty of snaps in the
defensive end rotation is fourth-year junior
Chris McAllister. The former linebacker tallied
1.5 sacks last season off the bench in his first
year on the line.
Another potential contributor at end could be
true freshman Javonte Magee, a prep All-
American and top-100 national recruit from
Sam Houston High School in San Antonio.
Coaches expect significant improvement over
last season in the interior of the line, where
seniors Kaeron Johnson and Nick Johnson (no
relation) combine with talented redshirt
freshmen Beau Blackshear and Trevor
Kaeron Johnson is a fifth-year senior whose
37 career starts are the most on the defensive
side of the ball. Coaches have high expectations
for the former fullback who totaled just five
tackles and one hurry in limited action as a
reserve last season.
"Kaeron has the ability to be a dominant
player," Briles said. "He has to become a force."
Nick Johnson is a former juco transfer in his
second season at Baylor. The Waco native made
eight tackles including 1.5 sacks as a backup in
his first season.
Clemons-Valdez, who impressed coaches
during sprind drills, provides a promising
option inside. Blackshear is a Waco native set to
make his collegiate debut in 2012.
The LINEBACKING CORPS will include a
relative newcomer stepping into the defensive
quarterback spot, as sophomore Hager takes
over at the Mike position. The third-year player
wowed coaches during the spring and is
described as an "outstanding leader." Hager
totaled 13 tackles and one forced fumble last
season as a reserve and on special teams.
Also available at MLB is fifth-year senior,
and last year's starter, Rodney Chadwick.
Chadwick, a veteran with 22 career games
played, made 68 tackles, 2.5 sacks and five
breakups in 10 starts in 2011.
Penciled in to start at Will linebacker is
newcomer Eddie Lackey, a mid-year transfer
from Riverside [Calif.] Community College who
impressed coaches during the spring.
"The last couple of weeks (of spring) Eddie
was making plays," Briles said. "He is going to
be a really good football player for us."
Also in the mix at WLB will be versatile
veteran Brody Trahan. Trahan, a former reserve
QB, had 32 tackles and made three starts as well
as serving as the primary kick holder as a
sophomore in 2011.
Back as the starter at the hybrid
nickelback/"Bear" position is returning All-Big
12 honoree Ahmad Dixon. A third-year junior
and the team's vocal leader, Dixon made 89
tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss in 2011. The
athletic, hometown product from Waco is a
former prep All-American.
Josh Wilson, a second-year former junior
college transfer, moved to nickelback during
fall camp and is listed No. 2 on the preseason
The SECONDARY returns all four starters
(three of which were 2011 All-Big 12 honorees)
from last season, and includes two reserves
with starting experience.
"We've got some real good players back
there," Briles said. "The depth is really strong."
After being thrown into the fire shortly after
arriving in Waco last August, the cornerbacking
duo of K.J. Morton and Joe Williams returns as
seasoned juniors in 2012.
Morton earned 2011 All-Big 12 honors after
logging 75 tackles and a team-high four
interceptions (ranked fourth in Big 12). His four
interceptions came during a late-season, threegame
stretch that included wins over No. 5
Oklahoma (one), Texas Tech (one) and Texas
Williams started nine games and had a team
high 12 PBUs along with 43 tackles in 2011, but
is best remembered for knocking down a
potential game-winning PAT pass in the
endzone in overtime to clinch a Baylor win at
"Both of those guys came in green in the
summer last year," Briles said of Morton and
Williams, "they are night and day ahead of
where they were last year."
Three players coming off injury-limited 2011
seasons provide depth at cornerback: former
Gonzaga basketball letterman Demitri
Goodson, promising sophomore Tuswani
Copeland and one-time starter Tyler
Stephenson. Goodson made an impact as a
returner and reserve corner early in 2011 before
suffering an ankle injury. Copeland was
climbing the 2011 preseason depth chart before
a season-ending knee injury. Stephenson is a
junior who began 2011 as a starter before an
ankle injury limited his season.
Senior Mike Hicks, a returning All-Big 12
honoree, is back as the starter at cover safety
and a defensive leader. The fourth-year local
from nearby China Spring totaled 103 tackles,
five PBUs and three interceptions in 2011,
including a late-game pick that sealed the
season-opening upset of No. 14 TCU.
Sam Holl, a third-year junior and 2011 All-
Big 12 selection, is the returning starter at down
safety. Holl's 113 tackles in 2011 are the most
among returning players, and he added three
interceptions. Coaches praised Holl's play
during spring camp.
Additional options at safety include seniors
Chance Casey, a veteran multi-season starter,
as well as junior converted receiver Darius
Jones and true freshman Terrell Burt of Wylie
(Texas) High School. Casey has 22 career starts,
the most among defenders and fourth-most on
the team, and is coming off a knee injury that
caused him to miss the final five games of the
2011 season. The three-year starter at
cornerback has 132 career tackles.
|| SPECIAL TEAMS
All specialists return from 2011, notably
placekicker Aaron Jones and punter Spencer
Jones, a Lou Groza Award candidate, is a
fourth-year junior who began his career as a
walk-on. He owns or shares nine school kicking
records including a single-season record 105
kicking points in 2011. Affectionately
nicknamed "Stork," he has hit 121 career PATs
and 29 career field goals. Jones will handle all
kicking duties, placekicks and kickoffs in 2012.
Roth is a big, strong-legged punter back for
his sophomore campaign. He averaged 40.5
yards as a true freshman in 2011, and totaled
three punts of 50-plus yards and six punts
inside the 20-yard-line.
Sophomore Levi Norwood is back as the
primary punt returner. Norwood averaged 8.2
yards-per-return as a redshirt freshman last
season. Among the likely candidates to return
kicks are Antwan Goodley, Demitri Goodson,
Darius Jones and Darryl Stonum.
Holding duties will be handled for the third
straight season by junior Brody Trahan. Three
players with long-snapping experience are on
the roster, but fourth-year junior Zack Northern
(23 games) was atop the preseason depth chart.
Senior Marcus Santa Cruz (15 games) and
sophomore Jimmy Landes (12 games) are also