There’s good news and bad news for Baylor football fans. First, the good news: After escaping (for now) a potential NCAA death penalty for truly deplorable Title IX violations amidst a purported (and pretty well-proven) series of rape cover-ups, Baylor and new coach Matt Rhule are successfully recruiting talent to the program again.
While still relatively early in the 2018 recruiting cycle, Rhule already has 18 commitments after the Tuesday pledges of Joseph Ogunbanjo and Connor Galvin. It’s an encouraging start for Rhule’s time in Waco on one hand, but on another it could serve as a concern for Bears fans, for one reason: So far, Baylor’s Class of 2018 looks a lot more like a typical Temple recruiting class than an old school, Art Briles Baylor class.
As of August 1, Baylor has 18 commits but just one ranked as a four-star or better. That’s Joshua Fleeks, a Cedar Hill (Texas) wide receiver who still holds scholarship offers from Georgia, Tennessee, UCLA and Texas Tech, among others. If you think any of those programs are giving up on Fleeks, think again.
The rest of Baylor’s class is comprised entirely of current three-star recruits.
In fact, if one goes back to 2015, when Rhule was leading Temple and Baylor was at the peak of Art Briles’ power, the Owls landed a class that was eerily similar to the one Rhule is putting together this year.
Meanwhile, Briles’ 2015 class was far different than the current one heading to Baylor. Compared to Fleeks’ lone status as an incoming four-star Baylor commit, the 2015 Baylor recruiting class included three four-star recruits, including star quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
Temple’s 2015 class? It also featured 18 members. None of them were four stars.
That disparity between 2015 and 2018 Baylor underscores how hard it will be for the Bears to continue keeping pace. Compare Baylor’s current class with the one sported by new Texas coach Tom Herman, which features a five-star, 10 four-star and three three-star recruits, and it’s not hard to see how a talent disparity could emerge, and quickly.
All of this fails to demonstrate what yeoman’s work it has been for Rhule to keep the program level-headed and moving forward. It’s been nothing short of a miracle for Rhule to both keep the program’s head together and moving forward amidst the maelstrom created by each slow drip of information about the school’s rape scandal.
Still, it’s not good enough to keep pace with the Longhorns of the world. It may have been effective to keep Temple near the top of the American Athletic Conference, but it will be difficult to continue treading water in the Big XII. Only time will show how Rhule adjusts.