The stunning twist of the football winds in Waco, Texas have unleashed a sudden shift in Big XII and national recruiting, with now former coach Art Briles’ walk to the exits following outrage over the handling of football-related sexual assault cases precipitating a raft of defections from the Bears. It’s not just running back Kameron Martin, who has already asked for his release despite sporting an enormous Baylor tattoo on his arm. It’s also two other Class of 2016 recruits who were planning to enroll for the summer semester, and at least four members of their expected Class of 2017, according to reports.
Odds are that more may follow, too.
Martin was the first big move away from the Bears’ recent might, with the running back asking for his release shortly after Briles was officially pushed out. Two others, four-star offensive linemen J.P. Urquidez and Patrick Hudson, a consensus top-50 recruit in the Class of 2016, have both refused to enroll in the summer classes they had planned to take. It’s not known if those two star lineman comprise two-thirds of the group that ESPN cites in knowing that three signees have already asked for their release.
If the losses ended there, that would be one thing. The issue is that it’s very likely that will be far from the case. ESPN is also among the outlets noting the decommitments of four-star wide receiver Hezekiah Jones and three-star safety Donovan Stiner. They follow four-star tight end Kedrick James and Jadeen Peevy, a three-star defensive tackle.
That leaves only two commits for 2017 — quarterback Kellen Mond from IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) and safety Jalen Pitre from Stafford, Texas. Mond was already viewed as wavering even before Briles’ firing with Auburn and Ohio State among the favorites.
It goes without saying that the Bears will have to completely start over with other top recruits who they had aggressively chased under Briles’ leadership.
Just how far the taint in the Bears recruiting efforts goes from here remains to be seen. It’s likely that Martin, Hudson and Urquidez won’t be the last to leave Baylor behind, but they may already be setting a dangerous precedent that could erode even more of the power that Briles had built up so impressively with strong results on the field in recent years.