The Bears offensive line has been a strength the past few seasons primarily in the eyes of the NFL. Since 2009, the Bears have had 5 offensive lineman drafted, including 2 in the first round. Two Baylor graduates were chosen in the 2012 NFL draft, with Philip Blake being the second starting center in a row to be drafted by the Denver Broncos (J.D. Walton, 2010) and Robert Griffin being chosen in the last round of the draft by the New York Jets.
With the loss of Blake, the Bears had a big hole at the center position going into the offseason. The staff decided to take 3 year starter Ivory Wade and move him to center, after being a starter at guard and tackle earlier in his career. New to the position, Wade struggled during the spring with his snaps and reads.
The center position demands quite a bit in the Bears offense, so Wade needs repetitions to get more comfortable. Wade has excellent size for the center position, and if he can learn the nuances of the position, he could be an even higher draft pick than his two predecessors.
With Wade leaving his right tackle position, the Bears opened up another hole in the offensive line. Troy Baker slid into that position in the spring and the former Waco native hopes to stay there. Baker got limited action last year after his redshirt season, playing in 3 games.
Replacing the “other” Robert Griffin will be another senior in Cameron Kaufhold. At times last year, Kaufhold was the most steady of the Bears lineman. The former 2-star recruit will be in his 3rd year of starting for the Bears at either guard position. In total, he has started 38 games for the Bears, tied for most on the team with Jarred Salubi, Lanear Sampson and Terrance Williams.
Taking over for Kaufhold at the left guard position will be last year’s starting left tackle, Cyril Richardson. Cyril moves over to his more natural position of guard, due to his massive frame. At 335 pounds, Richardson is a mauler inside and should excel at the spot, as he struggled with speed rushers at times last year.
The final starter is the highest ranked offensive lineman to sign with Baylor in quite a few years. Spencer Drango came to Baylor as a 4-star stud, and if what we see early from this young man is any indication, he was underrated. Just looking at him, you see a left tackle in the NFL. He has a chance to be a 4 year (or 3-year if he leaves early) starter for the Bears. This is a Baylor program that has put two left tackles in the first round of the draft since 2009.
Drango has everything you could want in an offensive lineman. Even at a over 300 pounds, he carries the weight so well, you would never think he was that large from far away. And then you come closer, and with his long arms, huge hands, and massive legs, you can tell what recruiters from all over the country could see in him. If you can’t tell, I am a fan of his. This young man has a chance to be special.
Behind the starters, the Bears have a nice balance of experienced depth and young up and comers looking to carve out more playing time. The Bears redshirted 4 lineman last season, including Drango and all are looking to move up the depth chart. The most interesting of these players is LeQuan McGowan, a player that during the spring left the Baylor program for personal reasons, but is trying to make it back. He is a project, but players his size (6-8, 370) and with his athletic ability don’t grow on trees.
With the Bears bringing in a very large recruiting class the year before, Baylor only signed two lineman in 2012. Both were 3-star tackles, fitting the mold for what Briles and his staff look for in offensive lineman, height, great frame to hold more weight, and athletic ability.
Trevon Armstead is the more highly rated of the two players on Scout. He had some good offers and is probably the more ready to play right away of the two recruits. Kyle Fuller is a little lighter, but had the better offer list, and in my opinion has the better upside of the two incoming freshman.
With a small recruiting class last year for offensive lineman, and three seniors in the two-deep, the assumption was that Baylor would go for a larger line class this year, with 3 or maybe 4 recruits. That has not materialized yet, as Briles has missed out on some of the top guys in the state. However, there are still a few top guys left on the board with Baylor offers.
Current Depth Chart:
1, Spencer Drango - 6-6, 305, rFR
2. Kelvin Palmer - 6-4, 280, JR
1. Cyril Richardson - 6-5, 335, JR
2. Tim Smith - 6-4, 295, SO
1. Ivory Wade - 6-4, 335 SR
2. Stephan Huber - 6-4, 285 JR
1. Cameron Kaufhold - 6-4, 300 SR
2. Jake Jackson - 6-3, 310, SR
1. Troy Baker - 6-6, 310 SO
2. Pat Colbert - 6-5, 270 rFR
1. Trevon Armstead - 6-6, 280, 3-star (44th ranked tackle)
2. Kyle Fuller - 6-5, 265, 3-star (53rd ranked tackle)
2013 Recruits Offered:
1. Matt Beyer - 6-6, 275 three star (35th ranked tackle)
2. Maurice Porter - 6-5, 295 three star (16th ranked guard)
3. Caleb Benenoch - 6-6, 317 three star (23rd ranked guard)
4. Josiah St. John - 6-6, 280 unranked (tackle)