By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer
Last season, Baylor football saw tremendous success. Its 12-win season culminated not only in a Big 12 title but also in a Sugar Bowl victory. Its triumphant season caught many by surprise, and now one question remains: How will the reigning conference champions follow up arguably the best season in program history?
“Last year we took everybody by surprise, but this year it’s no surprise,” fifth-year senior cornerback Mark Milton said. “Every game is going to be their Super Bowl … It’s not really any added-on pressure, because if they knew or didn’t know, we were going to do the same thing.”
It can be easy to get comfortable after a historic season, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with the Bears. Senior wide receiver Gavin Holmes said despite the success last season, the team remains focused and hungry, especially with a new target on their back.
“We’re just all juiced up, but we’re all humble and we’re ready,” Holmes said. “We have something to prove. Working hard on not being complacent, knowing that there’s always another game, there’s always more to accomplish — that’s our mindset.”
With the season just around the corner, preseason polls have Baylor ranked No. 10. Despite the high praise, senior defensive lineman Brayden Utley said the team does not pay attention to things like this throughout the season; he said they are more focused on playing to their best ability.
“We just keep doing our thing,” Utley said. “We just keep working, keep playing the way we are and keep playing as a team. That’s the best way we can combat anything coming from the outside in terms of pressure or expectations.”
During the offseason, the team lost multiple standout athletes, including six players who were selected in the NFL draft. With the departure of so many seasoned vets, there are big shoes to fill for the Bears lacing up their cleats this year.
Junior linebacker Garmon Randolph gave one solution to handle the nerves of stepping into those roles.
“We have to raise the bar,” Randolph said. “Everybody that’s coming back — we have to make up for our guys that’s gone. We’re going to do it, too.”