May 4, 2012

The Baylor Blitz

The one thing about coaches hitting the recruiting trail in May is that they may stumble into a few players that they may have overlooked last fall.

That appears to be the case at West Orange-Stark. Meet 6-2, 187-pound receiver J'Marcus Rhodes. Admittedly, the big target wasn't as proactive as he would have liked. Still, with 4.5 speed and pretty good hands, Baylor assistant coach Carlton Buckels came away impressed.

"He told me that he liked what he saw on the film,'' Rhodes said when Buckels came by on Wednesday. "He told me to come to one of their camps, and that's what I'm going to do. I'll be there bright and early.''

Baylor's first summer camp is going to be held in its traditional greater Houston location at Cy Falls High School on June 1.
Baylor would probably like to find another big receiver to complement what it has in Vequan Jones. Rhodes, though, is probably going to have to work his way into the coaching staff's thinking process.

There is film out there on Rhodes. But because of restrictions from not allowing us to show Hudl vidoe, we can't provide the link. You can search for Rhodes' film and see for yourself. He appears to be a late bloomer who is going to have to keep working on his mechanics. But Baylor may also look at him in the secondary since he plays free safety.

Stephen F. Austin has offered Rhodes, while the Division I schools are just starting to get to know him including Iowa State and Mississippi State. So it will be interesting to see how Baylor continues its evaluation of him.

Speed and versatility are two qualities the Baylor defensive coaching staff desire. One player who would look perfect as an outside linebacker is Rockwall-Heath Raaquan Davis. A projected three-year starter, Davis is coming a very productive 2011 season in which he recorded 111 tackles.

Recently, he added offers from Washington State, Iowa, Arizona State, Wake Forest and
North Texas. But when he talks about Baylor it really seems that the Bears are the clubhouse leader.

"Baylor is high up there,'' Davis. "When I went to go see them play Oklahoma a couple of years ago, the atmosphere and the fans were amazing. Even though they were losing, something just stuck with me. I love the coaches and the players.
"When I went down there on pro day [March 21], I just felt like it was the total deal, and you could see they are really trying to get something done.''

Davis said Baylor linebackers coach Jim Gush was at his practice earlier in the week. In the past, Davis said they have talked about him playing at any of the linebacker positions including the middle.

"They really like how I move laterally and how I pursue the ball,'' Davis said.
Heath's spring practices began last week. The spring game is schedule for May 22.

Davis said he would announce his commitment decision at this time. It would be shocking if it's not the Bears.

With Perry Jones III not surprisingly leaving and Quincy Miller suddenly departing for the NBA, it would make sense for Scott Drew and his staff to test the transfer waters, especially considering that they've had good success in this area in the last three years.

There are four transfers currently on the 2012-13 roster - starting point guard Pierre Jackson and shooting guard Brady Heslip plus reserves Gary Franklin and J'Mison Morgan.

Obviously this transfer thing is working. The Bears are at least batting .500 with Jackson and Heslip considered one of college hoops' best backcourts and why Baylor is still ranked in the Top 15 in most preseason polls despite Miller's stunning turnaround decision.

The transfer pool is deep to say the least. One media outlet recently posted a list of 375-plus 2012 transfers in college basketball. That's obviously a lot.

Expect a few to visit the Baylor campus this month and don't be surprised to see one of them decide on the Bears before May is over.

-- Todd Wills

Big 12 coaches and athletic directors finished up their annual meetings at posh Biltmore Hotel earlier this week in Phoenix.

The meetings were twofold. First, they went over the four-team playoff scenario. Baylor Athletic Director Ian McCaw said there are still several proposals to review but the bottom line is that college football will have a playoff to determine the national champion.

McCaw mentioned that it's still unclear if the games would be played on campus facilities or involve the bowls and how the Rose Bowl would be affected if it involved the Big 10 or Pac 12 champion. But the games should be returning to New Year's Day.
He said the way the four teams would be selected will be through a selection committee that will use rankings, computers and other criteria similar to what other selection committees use to determine their playoffs.

And that means when four are selected, the fifth team will not be happy.

"You're always going to have that,'' McCaw said. "But it's here. We'll come up with the right solution.''

One will play four and two will play three. But for the sake of discussion, if we're going back to this past scenario that involved LSU and Alabama for the national championship and you use the BCS rankings for the playoffs, it's likely that your semifinals would have been LSU vs. Stanford and Alabama vs. Oklahoma State. There are other meetings scheduled in late June to likely finalize the format.

The other part of the agenda was the coaches and athletic directors meeting their new commissioner, Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby. On Thursday, the Big 12 announced Bowlsby. He will succeed interim commissioner Chuck Neinas and take over June 15.

Bowlsby was very influential in helping the PAC 12 reach its new television agreement and expansion.

"He is a highly respected leader in college athletics who will bring an AD's perspective to the position,'' McCaw said. "His background in the Pac-12 and Big Ten will be a tremendous advantage.''

Two items that Bowlsby, who was also the AD at Iowa, will likely address is solidifying a new television agreement with ESPN - 13 years and $1.3 billion for first-tier rights -- and extending the time on the grant of rights beyond the six years that Neinas was able to secure back in September.

Just when it looked like the Big 12 was about to tilt into non-existence when Texas A&M and Missouri left, the conference may now be dealing from a position of strength.

Expansion could be on the horizon but from what we were told from a Big 12 source, that's not imminent. But keep in mind that the Big 12 has only scheduled football for the 2012 season and not beyond.

Acouple of tidbits…
• The No. 2 baseball team (38-8, 18-0 in the Big 12) has already clinched a tie for the Big 12 championship and is off this weekend. However, the Bears can win the outright title should Texas drop any of its three games this weekend at Missouri.

• McCaw said he remains very encouraged by the university working with major donors about participating in Baylor Stadium. There is still no timeline when a comprehensive appeal will go out to other alums. McCaw remains confident that the school will break ground on the stadium before the 2012 season so the stadium will be ready in 2014.

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