March 23, 2012

The Baylor Blitz

Sometimes, it just takes a little more investigation for a recruit to have a new perspective of a school.

So when Kennedale linebacker Brett Wade came to Baylor's spring practice on Wednesday - which coincided with Pro Day - he came away with a different impression.

"Baylor's growing on me, that's for sure,'' Wade said. "The fact that they're 90 minutes away means I can run down there any time and see a lot more of them. It was a good visit.''

Intriguing members of the 2013 recruiting class along with several signed 2012 recruits were in Waco. Recruits could not be allowed inside as ESPN cameras were filming the event which was highlighted by Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III.
It would have been a NCAA violation if the recruits were caught on camera.

At 6-2, 215, Wade will be exclusively recruited as a middle linebacker. His offer list is long. It is impressive. That's why Wade probably won't make any commitment decision until sometime this summer.

However, the Bears are now a part of his thinking. It was his first trip to Waco since attending a camp last summer.

"Their program is definitely growing,'' he said. "I went through the facilities and met RG3 and got to know him a little. The weight rooms were amazing.''

Wade's next two stops are possibly Arkansas and Texas A&M. He's not clear on a date to see the Razorbacks. He may go down to A&M for its Pro Day next Wednesday.

However, he'd just like to be healthy in 2012. He suffered two neck stingers during the 2012 season but managed to play through them. Wade said he scored a 1365 on the SAT he took last October.

There's no question that the Baylor coaching staff likes Lancaster athlete Demarcus Ayers. Wednesday's visit to Waco marked his third visit over the last eight weeks.

He came down for a basketball game in January and returned for the Jan. 29 junior day. He also plans on visiting when Baylor has its spring game on April 14.

The only thing that's missing is an offer. The Bears have not extended one as of yet.

"I think they want to see more of what I can do,'' Ayers said. "I know they're impressed but I think they want to see how I compare to some of the other guys they've offered at my position. I think I compare pretty well against them. The one thing I like about them is how they really worked with RG3 after he had his knee injury. They really care about you. I talk to coach [Brian] Norwood every week.''

What may be holding Ayers back is the lack of 2011 gamefilm. He suffered a broken left collarbone midway through the season and missed the balance. As an athlete, it's not clear if schools prefer him at wide receiver or cornerback.

"I'm getting strong,'' Ayers said. "I catch people on film but I know I'm going to have to keep working and getting stronger so people will know what I can really do.''

You basically had to pinch Irving MacArthur safety Taion Sells Wednesday. He was standing next to a Heisman Trophy winner.

"It was honestly the best experience I ever had,'' Sells said. "I got to stand next to Robert Griffin III and talk to him a little bit about Baylor. He said Baylor did everything for him to get him to where he is and that they would take care of me.''

While Sells holds only one offer that may be enough. Recruited at either free safety or cornerback, Sells has no fear about making a big hit when he needs to. When being around Baylor, one thing stood out to him.

"I feel like if I stepped out on the field for them, I know I could step out on the field at any other school,'' he said.

Sells was invited to Texas Tech this Saturday but wasn't sure he was going to go. He has some interest in LSU, Oregon and Michigan. But Waco could be his destination.

"Baylor is No. 1 right now,'' he said.

Don't let the measurements fool you about Bastrop linebacker Paul Whitmill.

In fact, the measurements might be the reason why BCS programs are recruiting him. Whitmill has the makeup to play that slash type of defender between safety and linebacker. For Baylor, that would be the Bear linebacker spot - a position currently occupied by Ahmad Dixon.

It's also why Baylor is among the top three schools he is considering. The other two are Arkansas and TCU.

Whitmill was at Baylor's Jan. 29 junior day and returned to the campus on Wednesday.

"All three of these coaching staffs are really serious about making football a championship program,'' Whitmill said. "I've really been looking at the depth chart of both schools in that position.

"I think TCU has a senior and two walk-ons. At Baylor I think I might have a chance to compete right away but a lot can happen.''

Indeed because TCU is also looking at him to play running back. TCU has been known to take linebackers and convert them into running backs and vice versa.

Perhaps the best comment about where Baylor coach Art Briles has taken this program is what Whitmill said about the pro day experience.

"It obviously shows how committed Baylor is,'' Whitmill said. "They're definitely not the old Baylor.''

Whitmill said he probably will make his commitment decision when spring football ends in late April. Bastrop began workouts on Thursday.

You can't have an event like Pro Day at Baylor without collecting reactions from other recruits. So revisited how the day went with some of the 2012 signees:

1. Aiavion Edwards, S, Stephenville: "I was excited for each guy out there, and I'm hoping I'll get the opportunity one day.''

2. Kendall Ehrlich, LB, Pearland: "It was cool, and I just liked how everyone was relaxed yet ready to work. It was just a real good environment.''

Devin Chafin, RB, Burkburnett: "It was awesome to see Baylor football players doing great things, and it was cool getting to experience the family environment that comes along with being a part of Baylor athletics.''

4. Orion Stewart, DB, Waco Midway: "Really enjoyed it and being around my new teammates was cool. I just loved the environment even though we couldn't be inside while it was going on.''

5. Corey Coleman, Ath, Richardson Pearce: "It was crazy. I had a good time.''

Fresh from a sweep of Texas Tech last weekend and midweek victory over Sam Houston State, Baylor's baseball returns to the diamond this weekend for a series against Kansas at the Baylor Ballpark.

The Bears (15-7, 3-0 in Big 12) moved Friday's game to 3:05 p.m. so it wouldn't conflict with the men's basketball team's 6:15 tip time with Xavier. Saturday's game is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. Sunday is a 1:05 p.m. start. Left-hander Josh Turley (2-0, 2.48 ERA) starts Friday. Right-hander Trent Blank (5-0, 2.06 ERA) starts Saturday. Right-hander Max Garner (2-2, 6.05 ERA) starts Sunday.

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