By Cody Soto
Baylor football is in its golden age, something this program has not seen before. With one Heisman winner and a Big 12 championship under its belt, Baylor Nation should not expect this excitement to go away any time soon.
The Bears will continue to see success under the reign of head coach Art Briles and the current coaching staff, which has turned around this program just in the seven years that Briles has been at Baylor. Under Briles, the Bears have been ranked in the AP Top 25 for a school-record 19 straight weeks. Baylor is 17-2 in the last 19 games, an .895 win percentage.
Baylor is currently the most successful FBS program in the state of Texas since 2011 with a win percentage of .756 (31-10). Before Briles, attendance at games was mediocre and still was not great during the era of Heisman winner and former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Students and fans are now scrambling for tickets and selling out the stadium, something that has not happened in the history of Baylor football.
The brand new McLane Stadium is a testament to the national attention that this team is receiving and the hard work that is paying off for the Bears. Baylor has yet to allow any team to score in their “Palace on the Brazos.”
Part of Baylor’s success is coming from the transfers that have come to play for the Bears. Former running back Lache Seastrunk transferred from Oregon and had over 1,100 rushing yards and ran for 11 touchdowns in the 2013 season. Other transfers include Phil Taylor (Penn State), Demetri Goodson (Gonzaga), and Jordan Najvar (Stanford). This Senior defensive end Shawn Oakman is also a transfer who originally played for Penn State.
Also, Briles continues to bring new talent to Waco, and Baylor’s recruiting classes is climbing the national charts in skill level and overall impact. The Bears currently have 12 commits in the 2015 recruiting class and are ranked 36th overall by Scout.com. The 2016 class already has five commits, including four-star prospects at running back, wide receiver and cornerback, as well as a quarterback poised to rise up boards. If Baylor has another successful season in 2014, the recruiting rankings will continue to climb.
To top it off, many underclassmen players will lead the team after the current senior class departs this year. Sophomore quarterback Seth Russell has already received some valuable playing time this season with a record-breaking half against Northwestern State.
Freshman wide receiver K.D. Cannon will also return to the offense as well as many members of the “Gang Green” defense. Baylor is benefiting from having the underclassmen out on the field that will help the team in the long run. With more starts and more experience, leaders will emerge from the underclassmen.
Even after their time on the team, former players are still finding themselves in the national spotlight as they enter into the NFL Draft, another place where Baylor leads the state of Texas with 15 draft picks over the past three years. Five players were
drafted in the 2014 NFL Draft, and many more eventually signed training camp deals with NFL teams.
With Baylor’s rise of success in the past three years, Baylor Nation should not worry if their team will bring home more victories next season. Experience, expectations, and future recruits will lead this team year after year to prominence.
The Bears look to continue their growth at 7 p.m. on Friday against Buffalo. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.