Dallas Colleges: Trevor Clemons-Valdez

Weak and Strong: Baylor Bears

April, 17, 2013
Turnover is an annual tradition in college football, but with that, teams' strengths and weaknesses constantly shift, too. Today, we'll wrap our series looking at the biggest strengths and weaknesses for each Big 12 team.

We'll close with those Baylor boys in Waco.

Strongest position: Running back

Oregon transfer Lache Seastrunk emerged as the Big 12's best running back over the final month of the season, sprinting to a 1,000-yard season and returning to Waco for a highly anticipated encore. He's the Big 12's most dangerous player with the ball in his hands and will get plenty of chances to showcase his game-breaking speed. He's sometimes a bit too ambitious and and takes losses in the backfield, but it's definitely worth it, and he's working on being more north-south through the first line of the defense this spring.

He's not alone, either. Running back Glasco Martin "runs angry," Bears coach Art Briles told me on my visit earlier this month. We've seen that to be the case over his career, but the duo definitely balances each other out well. Martin is a more physical runner capable of earning tough yards, and he'll come in handy in short-yardage situations this season. The depth is impressive, but the Bears' 1-2 punch at running back is the Big 12's best entering the season. I don't know if I buy talk of them both hitting 1,000 yards this year, but they're going to be tough to handle all season.

Weakest position: Defensive tackle

Beau Blackshear and Javonte Magee have potential, but both combined for just 1.5 tackles for loss in spot duty last season, and they'll be forced into starting duty this season. Neither of them have a career start, though reserve Trevor Clemons-Valdez made three last season before being passed up on the depth chart this spring. Baylor's had issues stopping the run, and though it should be better at safety and defensive end this year, that development won't look nearly quite as impressive if the teeth of the defense doesn't toughen up a bit.

The position isn't a huge weakness, but when you look at the rest of the Bears' roster, it pops out to me as the biggest question mark on a defense that should be improved.

Big shoes to fill: Baylor Bears

March, 7, 2013
We're moving on with a new series today looking at the players across the Big 12 who have to replace program legends. We might as well call this the Nick Florence Memorial team, but today we'll tackle his old team, the Baylor Bears.

Big shoes to fill: Baylor's defensive tackles

We've talked about filling Florence's shoes, and even those left behind by Terrance Williams and Lanear Sampson. We're looking a little closer at Baylor today, and I'm staring right at the front of Baylor's defense. Both defensive tackles, Nick Johnson and Gary Mason Jr. are gone, and Baylor's left with a hole in the front of the defense that only about 600 pounds can fill.

Smart money is on rising sophomore reserves Beau Blackshear and Trevor Clemons-Valdez stepping up to replace Mason and Johnson. Clemons-Valdez made four starts a year ago and should be a strong replacement, and the duo combined to make 21 tackles a season ago, including a tackle for loss from Blackshear and a fumble recovery from Clemons-Valdez. Baylor's trying to build its defense, but if it starts getting gashed up front, any development elsewhere will ultimately be for naught. Filling those emptied spots is paramount this spring.

See more shoes to fill.

Baylor suffers big loss days before opener

August, 28, 2012
Baylor senior defensive tackle Kaeron Johnson will miss the 2012 season and will undergo back surgery later this week, according to a report in the Waco Tribune-Herald.

Johnson, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound Cuero, Texas native, got his only start of 2011 against Oklahoma and recorded two tackles, but was expected to start full-time in 2012. Johnson, a fifth-year player, isn't expected to apply for an NCAA medical hardship to receive a sixth year.

"It's very unfortunate because Kaeron had a great spring and summer," Briles said, according to the paper. "But he's had those back issues that we've been trying to get right. Our first thought was to not play him this year and bring him back next year. But the advice he got was for him to go ahead and live a normal life."

Redshirt freshman Trevor Clemons-Valdez is expected to replace Johnson in the lineup. Johnson also played fullback in 2010.

Baylor's defense needs all the help it can get, so this is the last thing the Bears needed just five days before kicking off its season against SMU. Who knows if Johnson would be a big-time player this year, but you can't replace experience.