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July 13, 2012
The Baylor Blitz
In case you missed our interview on 1660AM ESPN, we invite you to take a listen to Thursday's visit on "You Make The Call". It was publisher Todd Wills opportunity to visit.
Baylor fans know probably know the Jarmon legacy that has come by the Brazos. Waco Midway wide receiver Hunter Jarmon's father James was a running back for Grant Teaff back in the mid-1980s and also worked at the university in the 1990s and early 2000s.
So the talented recruit, who holds 11 offers including one from Baylor, knows the campus as well as anyone. But he's taking his time through the recruiting process.
"Baylor is one of the top schools that I'm considering but I'm not in any rush to commit,'' Jarmon said. "There's still a lot I want to look at and explore and see what other programs have to offer.''
Starting this week, Jarmon is debating whether to attend Baylor's camp or Texas Tech's camp this weekend. He's also likely going to attend Oklahoma State's camp on July 26. He said he was told that if he went to Tech's and OSU's camps and performed well - run a 4.6 and hold his own in one-on-one -- he probably would receive an offer. He already has set an official visit to Minnesota on Sept. 21.
Jarmon said visited with associate head coach Brian Norwood about the Baylor camp on Thursday.
Of course, Baylor has developed a nice pipeline with Midway and has secured the likes of Levi Norwood, Beau Blackshear and Orion Stewart. Jarmon said he wouldn't have a problem being the one to continue the track record. However, he hasn't dismissed the idea of going away to school either.
The summer has been pretty quiet. Midway did not go through the 7-on-7 circuit. Rather the players focused on getting ready for the transition from Class 4A to 5A. Jarmon had an outstanding junior season as he caught 72 passes for 1,220 yards and 15 TDs.
With the new-look July evaluation period starting, Baylor coach Scott Drew was in Philadelphia on Thursday watching several top prospects at the Reebok Breakout Challenge.
One of them - Houston North Shore guard/forward Johnathan Motley (2013) spoke to SicEmSports.com by phone after Day 1 of the camp. Motley, who said he will visit Baylor and Clemson this fall, said he saw Drew in stands and felt like he had a good first day at the challenge.
"I did," said Motley, ranked No. 144 nationally by Rivals.com. "I can do better."
Motley said he worked on skills on Thursday and watched film, mostly on executing the pick-and-roll, a stable of his offense for the AAU Houston Defenders. He plays on that team with Aaron Harrison and Andrew Harrison, the twins who are on the big board of every top program in the country. More on them in a moment.
Motley said he will visit this fall on a home football weekend.
"I like it," Motley said. "Baylor's in a good conference. I like the coaches. They're cool. I know some of the new players that are coming there."
Motley has a front row seat watching the Harrison twins, who go to Fort Bend Travis. Aaron went off for an unofficial total of 31 points in a game Thursday. Andrew also scored in double figures. They did in front of head coaches from most of their Top 5 schools - Baylor, Kentucky, Villanova, Maryland and SMU.
"They're looking good," Motley said.
The Reebok Breakout Challenge, which first hit the map with the emergence of John Wall, will continue Friday. Baylor assistant coach Jerome Tang is also expected to be in Philly after spending Thursday in Indianapolis at the Adidas Invitational. The NCAA is allowing three four-day evaluation periods this month. This is the first one of them.
Also of note, Memphis (Tenn.) White Station 2014 power forward Leron Black could make a visit to Baylor at the beginning of August. Black is the No. 18 ranked player in the class of 2014.
-- Todd Wills
The Rivals100 Underclassmen Challenge in DeSoto last Sunday included several top prospects that Baylor has offered, including 2014 offensive guard Demetrius Knox of Fort Worth All Saints.
Knox has an impressive list of offers including Ohio State, Florida, Florida State, Texas, Oregon and Alabama. He observed a Baylor summer camp on June. He had a solid camp Sunday in DeSoto, especially flashing his talent when he shifted from tackle to guard during one-one-one drills. That prompted Rivals.com recruiting evaluator Brian Perroni to shift Knox to a guard prospect.
Knox said he was impressed with the Baylor program during his June camp visit. "It's a beautiful program," Knox said. "They love to win. I came to a camp and just watched."
-- Todd Wills
Nacogdoches 2014 offensive tackle prospect Jacob Bragg also had a solid performance at the Rivals100 Underclassmen Challenge. Baylor has already gotten a glimpse of him.
Bragg went to the Baylor one-day camp in June in Marshall and had a really good time there, he said. "I learned a lot," Bragg said. "They gave me a lot of information to soak in. I had a good time out there. They were really friendly out there."
Bragg doesn't have any offers yet, but those should start coming. He said he planned on contacting Baylor coaches soon. He talked to offensive line coach Randy Clements and Bears head coach Art Briles at the Marshall camp.
Bragg went up against Travonte Valentine out of Florida, who has already made a soft verbal commitment to Louisville. "I haven't gone up against a guy like that," Bragg said. "It was awesome. I wanted to go up against him, and I think I held my own."
-- Todd Wills
There's no question that Baylor coaches are probably going to have to start examining more JUCO and second-tier high school offensive lineman prospects.
Hurst L.D. Bell coach Mark Smith said 2013 6-5, 280-pound 3-star prospect Jesse Robinson recognizes that Robinson is probably considered one but has no doubt Robinson can play at the major level. Robinson could not be reached for comment because his phone is not working and he was away at a church camp, Smith said.
"He has great feet and a lot of power,'' Smith said. "But there's no question that once you get him in a program's strength and conditioning program, he will develop and contribute. Maybe by his redshirt sophomore year.''
Smith has seven offers including Kansas State. Baylor coach Jim Gush is keeping track of Robinson. The Bears haven't offered but that could change as the staff evaluates more and more.
"I know that Jesse likes Baylor and TCU, but he understands the process too,'' Smith said. "One of the better things about him is that he does a great job of pulling on our counter and sweep plays and other perimeter passing plays. He can play.''
Robinson's teammate and defensive end Veli Leveni is another player whose stock continues to grow. He has 10 offers including Utah, Mississippi State, Illinois and Oklahoma State.
Leveni participated in an all-polynesian player camp Thursday at Euless Trinity and is preparing to make trip(s) to either Baylor or Arkansas or both next weekend. Baylor's camp is Friday. Arkansas' is Saturday. He's hoping that if he performs well both programs will offer.
He's already familiar with Baylor's campus as he visited there for the March 4 junior day. Leveni is going to be a two-year start for the Blue Raiders this coming fall. Last year, he was pretty solid at pressing the pocket with 11 tackles for loss and four sacks.
"I've tried to stay pretty level headed about this,'' Leveni said. "I like Baylor, and I continue to learn about them. I'd love to get an offer from Baylor. It's a program that becoming more and more successful.''
The JUCO Blitz
Jake Shaw caught up with a few JUCO players Baylor is targeting to gauge their interest in the Bears. Below are their responses.
>> Jared Dangerfield, Fort Scott (Kansas) WR
Dangerfield really wants to re-initiate the communication he had with Baylor assistant coach Jim Gush back in the spring, when Gush gave the receiver a verbal offer.
"I have tons of interest in Baylor," he said. "The offense is great, and the program is on the rise."
Dangerfield was a two-star recruit out of high school. He originally signed with Towson, arrived for the spring semester, but later learned he wasn't cleared by the NCAA. He transferred to Fort Scott before the 2011 season and took a redshirt. He has since gained nearly 30 pounds, filling out his 6-3 frame to 200 pounds.
He wants to take an official visit to Baylor during the season, he said. And even though he's "still looking," he said Baylor is one of his top two schools, along with Ole Miss, which hasn't offered yet. Dangerfield does have offers from Florida Atlantic, Northern Illinois and South Alabama, and is hearing from Indiana, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Mississippi, Mississippi State and South Florida.
>> Toby Johnson, Hutchinson (Kansas) DT
Baylor is among Johnson's top choices. But don't get your hopes too high up. Right now, Johnson said every school that offered him is on equal ground.
"(Baylor) is the same as everyone else. I have interest in Baylor, but I haven't picked leaders or picked top schools or anything," he said.
That won't stop Baylor from an all-out pursuit of this highly-coveted defensive tackle, who has nearly 30 major offers. Johnson said his decision "may be a long way down the road," but Baylor will be in touch with him as long as possible.
"I talk to coach Gush pretty frequently," Johnson said. "I know they're rebuilding their defense a little but they got a lot of attention last year and should be good again."
>> Gus Penning, Riverside (Calif.) TE
Last I talked to Penning, he was headed to San Diego State for an unofficial visit where he hoped he'd receive his second offer to follow-up on the one he got from Baylor. Sure enough, Penning received an offer on Wednesday.
Thursday, via a text, he said he still doesn't have a timetable and needs to consult his coaches to help him determine the next step. Baylor will still be involved.
"I haven't talked to my coaches about recruiting," he said, "but I think I'll listen to them so I can do what is best for me."
I'll be in touch with Penning and pass on updates as I get them.
Next Friday, Baylor's Board of Regents will meet and should officially give the go-ahead on construction for the proposed $250 million Baylor Stadium. A ground breaking date should be included in the approval.
Considered a formality, Baylor officials are hoping to have the stadium ready for the 2014 season. Of course, Baylor has announced major gifts from Drayton McLane (stadium naming rights), John Eddie Williams (field) and Sheila and Walter Umphrey (bridge). Of course, SicEmSports.com has reported that there are already several secured unannounced gifts that take the raised total to about $100 million. And it's likely that the university is still working with other high-profile alumni including Bob Simpson.
On Wednesday, the stadium received another lift when the Waco Tribune-Herald reported the Tax Incement Financing Zone board approved a $35 public contribution that would go toward infrastructure including roads, sewer pipes, power and including a boat harbor and $13 million footbridge over the Brazos River.
The Waco city council will vote on the measure Tuesday. Should that pass, it will take the funding well beyond $100 million. A general fund raising campaign should get underway later this fall.
Emptying the notebook
* Sherman place-kicker Nick Harvey said he is still considering Baylor and Texas Tech and is realizing that his future in Division I football will be as a place-kicker. He said he also wants to visit a couple of SEC schools including Arkansas.
* Fort Worth All Saints linebacker Xavier Phillips may be getting closer to solidifying his commitment to Baylor. Remember, he's considered a soft commitment. Phillips has scheduled visits to Tulane, Central Florida, Wake Forest and Purdue. But he had a moment of clarity this week. "I think I might not take all of my trips,'' he said. "I don't know if I can handle all those schools telling me stuff to come to their school.''
We'll keep you posted.
*One favorite player at Sunday's Rivals100 Underclassmen Challenge - McKinney wide receiver T.V. Williams, a 2014 prospect. Williams caught everything. He showed tremendous speed. He's only 5-foot-8 and 145 pounds. But he can most definitely play. And he likes Baylor. He currently holds an offer from Houston.
"I love their offense," Williams said of Baylor. "They throw it a lot. Any throwing team I really like. And they use a lot of speed. It's a quick offense. It matches with me perfectly. I used to be a big TCU fan, but when I watched Baylor's exciting win over TCU last year, I became a big fan."
One thing is certain by the way - the up-and-coming recruits have taken notice of Baylor's fast break offense, especially the receivers, who can't speak a word about Baylor without talking about its use of speed and the Bears' quick offense.
--Kevin Lonnquist and Todd Wills