Monday, June 20, 2011
The Revolving Door: Baylor
By ESPN.com staff
I've done it. You've done it.
"Hey, is that guy still around?"
Even with two fewer teams, it's hard to keep track. Our next series, which we did last year, too, takes a look at two key players for every team in the league who are taking their talents elsewhere, returning to campus, or arriving to try to write a legacy of their own.
So really, this series isn't so much for the fans of the teams in the posts, but more for everyone else. It wouldn't be a bad idea to bookmark these.
Today, we wrap up the series with the Bears of Waco.
Jay Finley, RB
Finley emerged as a huge threat for the Bears running game, ending the season as one of the Big 12's most underrated talents. He rushed for 1,218 yards -- fourth in the Big 12 -- and 12 touchdowns. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Corsicana, Texas, native battled back from an injury-plagued 2009 season to stake a claim as one of the Big 12's best, leaving Baylor with a big hole to fill after being drafted in the seventh round by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Danny Watkins, LT
Watkins was a constant for two seasons at left tackle for the Bears, and had one of the most interesting stories of any player in the Big 12. A former fireman from British Columbia, Canada, Watkins first took up football at junior college in California, and after just a few years playing the game, became a first-round pick for the Philadelphia Eagles. He's the third first-round pick in three years for Baylor and coach Art Briles. Jason Smith went No. 2 overall in 2010 and teammate Phil Taylor was drafted in the first round in 2011.
Robert Griffin III, QB
Griffin answered any questions about lingering effects from his 2009 knee injury, returning as a better quarterback than ever and leading Baylor to its first bowl game since 1994, ending a maddening streak. He threw for 3,501 yards, 22 touchdowns and just eight interceptions while running for 635 yards and eight scores. The Bears have bigger things in mind for 2011 than last year's 7-6 finish, and if they're going to get there, Griffin will be the guy to take them.
Kendall Wright, WR
Wright returns as Griffin's top target after catching 78 balls for 952 yards and seven scores in 2010. He's been the Bears' top receiver during all three of his seasons on the field, and don't look for that to change in 2011, even with the likely rise of Josh Gordon, a bigger target. Wright is just 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, but though he's unlikely to jump over many defenders, he'll run past most. The speedy big-play receiver is apt to beat defenses deep for the big play.
Spencer Drango, OT
Drango was the nation's No. 14 offensive tackle and the Bears' top prospect in the 2011 class. The offensive line looks fairly set for this year, so don't look for the 6-foot-6, 264-pounder to contribute right away, but he'll add good depth and learn behind a good line in 2011.
Phil Bennett, defensive coordinator
Baylor's freshman class didn't have a lot of headline makers, but Bennett made a few by coming to Waco after engineering a top 10 defense at Pittsburgh last season. The coaching veteran has been the head man at SMU and made stops at Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and LSU before landing on Art Briles' staff. Briles made a big effort to bring Bennett in, and we'll see how fast he can shape up a defense that needed a lot of help in 2010.
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