April 27, 2012

The Baylor Blitz

For Corey Coleman, Thursday night's first round of the NFL Draft was like watching family.

Coleman and Kendall Wright developed a tight bond in the time the Baylor coaching staff has been around Coleman. So when he watched Wright go No. 20 overall to Tennessee, he also watched the payoff to dedication for the craft.

"That's like my older brother,'' Coleman said. "I look up to him. I was really happy for him. He's going to be my favorite wide receiver in the NFL.''

Coleman has always been viewed as Wright's heir apparent. Of course, that's quite a legacy because Wright became Baylor's all-time leader in receptions, yardage and touchdowns. But in the course of his visits to Waco, Coleman shared a lot of time with Wright to discuss what it would take to be that kind of player.

Expect Coleman to play in 2012. Given his versatility, speed and confidence, Coleman has the talent to step in and contribute right away.

As for 2013 wide receiver commit Vequan Jones from Wylie East, he felt the same about Wright like Coleman did.

"I was pretty fired up because that's a good friend of mine,'' Jones said. "I feel like we have a big brother-little brother-type relationahip.''

Call Thursday's first round of the NFL draft a free recruiting tool for the Baylor football program. For the second consecutive year, Baylor produced multiple No. 1 draft choices.

In 2011, the Bears watched offensive lineman Danny Watkins and nose guard Phil Taylor be selected. On Thursday in New York City, quarterback Robert Griffin III and wide receiver Kendall Wright were chosen.

The evidence speaks for itself, so recruits can see what can happen if they are willing to put in the labor to have a chance to go in future drafts.

"It's reality,'' Baylor coach Art Briles said. "Maybe you can come to Baylor and play and put yourself in a position. You come here and you have a chance to fulfill a dream.''

Between 1966-2008, Baylor had only five players chosen in the first round of the draft. Since 2009, there have been five. Offensive tackle Jason Smith was taken by St. Louis in 2009.

Of course, the draft isn't over for the Bears. There's still some work left to do regarding center Philip Blake and running back Terrance Ganaway. The second and third rounds will begin at 6:00 p.m. Friday. On Saturday, the draft concludes with rounds 4-7. That starts at 11:00 a.m.
So let's give a quick rundown on Blake and Ganaway:

Blake: Some mock drafts believe that he is the third-rated center of the 36 on the board. The first-team all-Big 12 performer is a borderline third-round pick. If not, most experts believe he will go in the fourth round. One team that's in play (and it doesn't mean it's going to happen) is Green Bay.

Ganaway: He rushed for 1,547 yards and 21 TDs in his first and only year to start. His 40-yard times between the combine (4.67) and pro day (4.54) have some people scratching their heads as to where he fits. Ganaway should be selected on Saturday, and most projections have him going in the fifth round. Chicago and Dallas may be in play there.

Mansfield safety George Baltimore is an athlete for all programs. He's been offered as a safety by most of the programs looking at him including Baylor.

He's been offered by Purdue, Kansas and Vanderbilt as a running back and offered as a wide receiver from Michigan State.

"That came out of nowhere,'' Baltimore said of the wide receiver offer. "But when the Michigan State coaches looked at my film when I was playing receiver, they loved me.''

Look at the offers and you can see regionally what programs think of him. The northern schools like him on offense. The southern schools like him in the secondary.
Baltimore will be a four-year varsity player for the Tigers and when Baylor coaches look at him, they like how physical he plays the free safety position. He said the coaches like the way he can handle man-to-man coverage and how well he can backpedal. And he likes Baylor as well.

"If you said a few years ago that Baylor would be a Big 12 contender, people would laugh at you,'' he said. "But you can see they are building a base. They are retaining their recruits and when you get players like RG3 to go there, you know you have something going.''

Baltimore, a high three-star recruit, attended the Jan. 29 junior day and considers the Bears one of his leaders.

"I would like to make my decision before the season starts, no doubt,'' he said. "I'll probably go up to some of the schools up north just to see what they're like.''

When Baylor assistant coach Carlton Buckels visited New Orleans Edna Karr high school, he definitely saw what others saw in four-star defensive back Noel Ellis. The Rivals No. 169 recruit is aggressive and is one of the hardest hitters out there. It's no wonder that SEC schools like Tennessee, Auburn, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Texas A&M have offered him.

Recently, Baylor, TCU and Nebraska offered him. By virtue of its recent run of success, the Bears are now competing for some of the better athletes in the country.

"I didn't know much about Baylor but I am now as I started to watch the draft and see their players come off the board,'' Ellis said. "I'm definitely going to do more research on Baylor and hope to visit them, TCU and A&M in the summer.''

Just a couple of tidbits:
The No. 3 baseball team (35-8) takes a break from Big 12 conference play this weekend and hosts New Mexico State at 6:35 p.m. Friday and 12:05 p.m. Saturday at Baylor Ballpark. The team then enjoys time off until May 9 (for spring finals) before it plays at Texas State. Left-hander Josh Turley (6-0, 1.94 ERA) is scheduled to start Friday. Right-hander Trent Blank (9-0, 2.18) is scheduled for Saturday.

Athletic director Ian McCaw said Big 12 athletic directors will review the latest BCS playoff proposals next week in Phoenix. As you may have seen all 16-team and 8-team proposals are no longer considered possibilities following the BCS meetings earlier this week in Hollywood, Fla. There are 5-7 scenarios being discussed involving a four-team format.

McCaw also said the school submitted bids to host regional and Super Regional sites for the upcoming NCAA baseball tournament. However, the school won't know until the week of the Big 12 tournament (the week of May 21).

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