Notable signings for Briles & Co.
Javonte Magee, DL
Magee ranks as the No. 7 defensive end on Rivals.com and is listed as a blue chip recruit and top 100 prospect.
Corey Coleman, WR
Coleman is a national top 250 recruit.
Brian Nance, LB
Nance is a defensive All-American and top 100 national prospect.
Seth Russell, QB
Russell is ranked as the No. 47 quarterback in the nation, according to ESPN.com.
By Tyler Alley
Head coach Art Briles announced Wednesday that 23 student-athletes have signed their National Letter of Intent to play football at Baylor.
“All things kind of follow in a progression or process,” Briles said. “We signed an extremely talented class this year, which I think is by far, top to bottom, the most talented class we’ve signed. I think it’s all reflective of how our 2011 season went. Putting 10 wins on the table, winning a bowl game, having numerous All-Americans, having the single trophy that they give out for the nation’s top player in the Heisman, with Robert [Griffin III] winning that.”
Defense was a focus for the Bears in this recruiting class as 13 of the student-athletes come from the defensive side of the ball, including four linemen, four linebackers and five defensive backs.
“The thing we tried to really address this year was the defensive side of the ball,” Briles said. “We really feel like, without question, we landed some guys that will be All-Americans and play on Sunday. Our philosophy has always been if we don’t think they’re All-Americans or have the ability to play on Sunday, we don’t need to be recruiting them.”
Baylor boasts three four-star recruits in its 2012 class.
Lineman Javonte Magee, from Sam Houston High School in San Antonio, comes in as one of the most highly touted defensive recruits in Baylor history. He earned All-American honors and 2011 Class 3A All-State honors as a senior and ranked as the No. 7 defensive end on Rivals.com.
“I think you’d have to dust off a few Texas football magazines to find someone as heralded as Javonte Magee to sign with Baylor,” Briles said. “Coming out of high school, this guy could have gone anywhere he wanted to in the nation and he chose Baylor. He chose Baylor because he came down here numerous times since his freshman year in high school.”
Linebacker Brian Nance from Trinity High School in Euless is also a defensive prep All-American. He ranks as the No. 18 linebacker according to ESPN.com and No. 27 on Rivals.com. At 6 feet 2 inches and 210 pounds, Briles said he is a big physical linebacker.
“He’s an impact player,” Briles said. “He’s a downhill player and a tough guy. He’s a good leader. That’s the thing that I really appreciate about him. He’s going to be a great addition for us.”
Baylor also looked to improve its secondary with this signing class, bringing on five defensive backs, the most of any unit. One particular standout is Aiavion Edwards, a defensive back from Stephenville High School who was rated as the No. 31 safety in the nation according to Rivals.com. Briles was asked if Edwards could be moved to other positions next season.
“We recruited him as a safety,” Briles said. “That’s where we’ll start him out. There’s a chance he could move closer to the box because he has that ability. He’s a big kid that can run.”
The defense only lost three starting defensive players — linebacker Elliot Coffey and defensive linemen Nicolas Jean-Baptiste and Tracy Robertson — and though the squad ranked last in the Big 12 in yards allowed in 2011, there is talent on the team and things could be looking up with the 13 players signed.
Seven offensive players also signed their letter to Baylor: two linemen, three receivers, one running back and one quarterback.
“We just kind of picked and chose offensively to what our needs were,” Briles said. “We really know we hit some big-time players there. We’re extremely excited about the class, anxious to get them on board here this summer and turn them loose and let them be Baylor Bears.”
Receiver Corey Coleman of Pearce High School in Richardson, Baylor’s third four-star recruit, is a national top-250 prospect. He racked up 69 catches for 932 yards and 11 touchdowns, 567 rushes and 15 touchdowns on 84 rushes and even threw for 106 yards as a senior.
“Corey is going to be the guy,” Briles said. “He’s a big-time player and a great young man with tremendous upside. Once he gets involved in our system, the sky’s the limit and we’re going there. We were very excited about him committing to us early. He fought off people and stayed loyal to Baylor. He’s going to have a great career here.”
With the departure of senior receiver Kendall Wright, Baylor added three receivers in this class — Coleman, Kiante’ Griffin from Hebron High School in Carrollton and Kaleb Moore from Cy-Fair High School in Cypress — hoping to fill the gap Wright will leave behind.
“If you feel like you lost your diamond earring off your left ear there, we found it lying under the haystack,” Briles said.
Baylor also added quarterback Seth Russell from Garland High School in Garland. Briles said Robert Griffin III declaring for the NFL Draft played a role in Russell’s recruitment.
“Without question it came into play,” Briles said. “If Robert would have decided to stay in college we probably would not have taken a quarterback this year. We had six or seven camps and we probably saw 620 quarterbacks between last spring and last summer in camps. And Seth Russell was far and beyond a guy that we could not take our eyes off of or take our mind off of once we saw him in camp.”
Three athletes also signed with Baylor: Rashodrick “Shock” Linwood from Linden-Kildare High in Linden, Terrance Singleton from Memorial High School in Port Arthur and Lynx Hawthorne from Refugio High School in Refugio.
All but one of the signees is from Texas, and all but one is an incoming freshman. Linebacker Eddie Lackey is the exception for both as he is from Riverside Community College in Murrieta, Calif.