April 13, 2012

The Baylor Blitz

If you blink, you're going to miss Katy's Kyle Fulks. He's fast everywhere he goes. But the miracle of modern technology - the cell phone - keyed SicEmSports' ability to catch up with Baylor's latest commitment.

After receiving an offer from Baylor on Thursday, Fulks (5-11, 170) gave his verbal commitment to assistant Kendall Briles. Verbal commitments are non-binding. The first day a recruit can sign a national letter of intent is Feb. 6, 2013.

Fulks committed before he competed in the District 19-5A track meet. That must have inspired him because he registered personal bests in the 100 (10.3 seconds) and 200 (20.93).

"Baylor was the first school to offer, and I really had a great time getting to know coach Briles,'' Fulks said. "I just felt like this was the right thing to do.''

Both the Baylor football and track teams will benefit from Fulks. He had previously visited the campus when he spoke with track coach Todd Harbour and will compete in the sprinting events. Baylor is recruiting him as an athlete.

On the football side, Fulks he's developed into quite a talent. The key is if you miss on the first attempt, he's gone. In 2011, he played in the secondary and at wide receiver. However, Katy coach Gary Joseph said he spent more time on offense.

In his first year to start, all Fulks did was averaged 17 yards per reception (24-408) and was dynamite when they used him on end arounds or reverses (4 carries for 111 yards, 27.8 yards per attempt). He scored eight touchdowns. Indeed, this is the kind of player coach Art Briles likes.

"Baylor started looking at me sophomore year when they were on campus and saw my tapes,'' Fulks said. "I like the way they play offense and I think I can fit in with their spread. I like the ball in my hands.''

Baylor's basketball team will receive a huge infusion when Riverside Academy power forward Ricardo Gathers, the No. 37 national recruit in the Rivals 150 is expected to sign his national letter with Baylor of intent on Monday.

The late signing period began this past Wednesday. The Reserve, LA. school was closed this week for the Easter Holiday.
Rivals National Analyst Eric Bossi gave his assessment of Gathers:

"First of all, Ricardo brings a lunch pail type mentality to the floor. Some guys look like beasts, but not everybody plays like one, he does. He's a physical guy around the rim with high level athleticism who fights for rebounds, tries to dunk on anybody in site and is working to expand his game.

"I don't know how many people remember when Julius Peppers played hoops at North Carolina. But I see a lot of him in Gathers when I watch him play.

"Ricardo has worked hard to develop a good mid-range jump shot and he's pretty effective driving out of the high post. Most important for him to improve will be his free throw shooting and his overall decision making. He's not going to be able to overpower everybody in college, so developing a little more patience in the lane will be huge.

"Overall, I like the physical edge that he will bring to the floor. Baylor is losing one guy who liked to play tough and in your face in Quincy Acy and hopefully Gathers can step right in and fill that void."

He could be viewed as the mystery recruit of the 2012 signing class. No one really knew much about Garland quarterback Seth Russell because he pretty much stayed away from recruiting sites hounding him from the day he attended summer camps.

For the first time, SicEmSports.com had a chance to speak with Russell (6-4, 200) about him switching from Kansas to Baylor and eventually signing with the Bears on Feb. 1. Russell is expected to attend Baylor's spring game Saturday.

"I had stayed in touch with them since the summer,'' said Russell who attended one of the summer 2011 camps at Lake Highlands High School. "They said they really liked me but everything really was going to depend on what RG3 did.

"They were a great group of guys. After the coaching change at Kansas, I told them I wanted to look at my options. When RG3 declared, they offered. I talked it over with my parents and committed.''

Like so many camp visitors, Russell came away impressed with the way Baylor ran it camps. Quarterbacks threw about 300 passes at all distances.

"It was good for me to really see that they could get an idea as to who could and who couldn't make all the throws,'' he said.
When he arrives at the spring game, he will pay close attention to what Nick Florence and Bryce Petty do.

"I'm going to look at the drops so I can work on those things. I'm also going to look at how they do the rollouts and play action,'' he said. "When I get home, I'm going to start working that way. I'm going to watch their leadership. It's a fast tempo so I know I'm going to have to be ready for that.''

Russell played through a broken right thumb and broke left middle finger in the 2011 season. That affected his ability to throw the ball. But he is healthy now and going through a rigorous offseason so he can be ready to report in June.

Populous officials were in Waco this past weekend to continue their work at the location and refining the drawings on Baylor Stadium.

Athletic director Ian McCaw called it more fine-tuning than anything else in terms where concession stands, restrooms, recruiting rooms, kitchen areas and novelty shops would be located.

"The architects have a big picture,'' McCaw said. "There are just a lot of thing for them to review including air flow.''

Nothing's changed from the origianl concept. The stadium should have a seating capacity between 43,000-47,000, 45 luxury suites and 70 loge boxes.

Following last month's announcement of Drayton McLane's lead gift, the university continues to engage in dialogue with other significant donors. McCaw said there was good response. The hope is that if everything moves favorably, Baylor can break ground on the new site before the 2012 football season.

However, this will not be a football-only facility. McCaw said he hopes that it will viewed as venue that will have 365 days of use. That would include high school playoff games, concerts, special events and trade shows.

"This is going to be a facility that will be an icon for Central Texas,'' McCaw said. "We want people to come in and feel special about the experience.''

Campaigns to reach out to Central Texas corporations and other alumni have not yet started. A stadium website will soon be launched to let smaller donors know how they can be a part of the process. No exact date is known.

In an unrelated matter, it would appear the Sept. 1 opener against SMU and the Sept. 22 game at Louisiana-Monroe will be targeted as second-tier games (i.e. Fox Sports Southwest). The Sept. 15 game against Sam Houston State is probably going to be Baylor-controlled telecast.

The Big 12's television partners have until June 1 to formally create their schedule.

Owning the second-longest winning streak in program history, the No. 8 baseball team (27-7, 12-0 Big 12) travels to Manhattan, KS. this weekend to face Kansas State (17-15, 3-6).

With 16 consecutive wins, the program needs four more to tie the 1985 squad's mark of 20. Left-hander Josh Turley (4-0, 2.20 ERA) starts tonight at 6:30 p.m. Right-hander Trent Blank (8-0, 1.67 ERA) starts at 1 p.m. Saturday. Sunday's 1 p.m. starter has not been announced.

The Friday and Sunday games can be seen on the Fox College Sports channel. Saturday's game can be seen on Fox Sports Kansas City.

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