Thursday, March 8, 2012
Spring superlatives: Baylor
By ESPN.com staff
We'll kick off a new series today we've done in the past.
In "Spring Superlatives," we'll break down each team's best and worst positions entering the 2012 season. We'll kick it off with Baylor.
Strongest position: Wide receiver
Don't fret too much about losing Kendall Wright, Bears. The team lost an NFL-caliber receiver in Josh Gordon before the season and loses Wright, a 1,600-yard receiver, after the year.
Coach Art Briles, however, keeps reloading at the position and new quarterback Nick Florence will have plenty of targets next season. Terrance Williams tops that list, and NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. lists him as the nation's No. 1 NFL prospect at receiver among players eligible for the 2013 draft.
Wright put together a Biletnikoff Award-caliber season last year, but Williams quietly put together a 59-catch, 957-yard, 11-touchdown season and finished fifth in the Big 12 in receiving.
That makes him the leading returning receiver in the Big 12. Who's No. 2? Funny you ask. How about Tevin Reese, another Baylor receiver who racked up 877 yards and seven scores on 51 catches.
West Virginia has a pair in Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey who were more productive in the Big East, but we'll see how they measure up.
Lanear Sampson fills out Baylor's receiving corps after grabbing 42 balls for 572 yards.
Weakest position: Safety
Baylor gave up loads and loads of big plays last year; they were one of four Big 12 teams to give up more than 200 plays longer than 10 yards. No Big 12 team gave up more plays of longer than 30, 40 or 50 yards, too.
Mike Hicks and Sam Holl both return. Is this good news or bad news for the Bears? Expectations will be low for the duo, but every year we see second- and third-year starters take big steps forward on the field. Baylor needs those guys to do that.
The duo combined for 218 tackles, and both picked off three passes, combining to break up six passes. Those numbers aren't good enough considering the yardage and points Baylor's defense gave up. Fixing this position has to be goal No. 1 during the spring.