Baylor football is moving past the issues that have plagued the program in recent years, but depth issues still abound after major attrition in the Class of 2016.
Twelve players from that class departed to other programs. Another 12 from Baylor’s two-deep depth chart graduated or left for the NFL draft. That doesn’t count Travon Blanchard, who is still suspended.
However, Baylor took steps to beef up its roster in the offseason. Head coach Matt Rhule recruited a big class, including a couple of early enrollees. The Bears also added a graduate transfer at quarterback who could contribute right away.
Baylor needs these players to contribute and help rebuild depth.
True freshman contributors
Baylor experienced major attrition at wide receiver after last season. Junior KD Cannon and sophomore Ishmael Zamora both left early for the NFL. The previous coaching staff expected Zamora to step into a starring role.
The Bears’ leading returning receiver is junior Chris Platt, who caught 35 passes for 567 yards and 4 touchdowns last season. Blake Lynch posted 404 receiving yards as a redshirt freshman. Baylor earned a reputation as “Wide Receiver U,” but suddenly that position group is a major question.
However, Platt believes the incoming group of freshmen will contribute early.
“They look ready already, just fresh out of high school,” Platt said. “I think some of them are ready to play right away.”
The Bears recruited three wide receivers in the Class of 2017, and Gavin Holmes, R.J. Sneed and Trestan Ebner were three of the top four recruits in Baylor’s recruiting class. All had offers from schools such as Notre Dame, Alabama and Ole Miss.
Platt was especially high on Sneed, who was one of three early enrollees in the class. At 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, Sneed has perhaps the most college-ready body of the new receivers.
“He’s definitely one of those guys [who will play early],” Platt said. “He knows the playbook really well and he knows what the coaches want him to do and he gives it his best.”
Early-enrollee Jalen Pitre believes the staff emphasizes integrating young players.
“They did a good job trying to do that,” Pitre said. “The spring put me in a great position this summer to just be ahead of other people and just have a good mindset going into the fall.”
Baylor added quarterback Anu Solomon as a graduate transfer from Arizona this offseason. The coaching staff wanted to add quarterback depth, especially considering the Bears have only one returning scholarship quarterback on the roster.
Zach Smith returns under center after being thrust into action as a true freshman after Seth Russell hurt his leg against Oklahoma. Smith played admirably down the stretch, throwing for 1,254 yards and 11 touchdowns in four starts.
Solomon starred as a freshman at Arizona, throwing for 3,793 yards and 28 touchdowns. However, injuries derailed his junior season and limited him to just five games.
“He’s a very accurate quarterback,” Platt said of Solomon. “His release is kind of weird, but I’m getting used to it by now. He looks ready.”
The pair of quarterbacks, along with early-enrollee Charlie Brewer, are deadlocked in an open competition that will continue into fall camp.