Long a position where the Bears were taking walk-ons, former 6-man football stars, and pretty much anybody that they could find to not only improve depth but to have starters. Now though, the Bears have recruited some top-end talent as good as any in the country, with depth and experience behind them.
CURRENT STARTERS – 9
|2 career starts, 30 tackles in 2013, with 4 TFL, .5 sacks||Sat out 2013 due to personal reasons, DE in 2012, played in 10 games||12 career starts, 33 tackles in 2013 with 6 TFL, 2.5 sacks||7 career starts, Key reserve in 2013, 21 tackles including 3.5 TFL|
With two sophomore along with a junior listed as starters for the Bears, the talent Baylor has at the defensive tackle position is as good as it has ever been. Led by sophomore Andrew Billings, the Bears have one of the strongest players in the nation anchoring their defensive line. In a key backup role to start the year, Billings earned a starting role late in the 2013 season due to his dominating run defense and ability to simply push the line of scrimmage back.
Alongside Billings is returning sophomore Javonte Magee. One of the top recruits of the Art Briles era, Magee left the football program in 2013 due to personal reasons, but is back and is battling junior Beau Blackshear for the tackle starting spot. Magee is a former 4-star recruit (as is Billings) and is one of the most purely talented defensive linemen to ever come through Waco.
POSITIONAL DEPTH – 10
|Defensive Tackle Eligibility|
With five players having starting experience on the defensive line (Blackshear – 12 starts, Byron Bonds – 7 starts, Trevor Clemons-Valdez – 7 starts, Andrew Billings – 2 starts, Sue Masumbuko – 2 starts), the Bears have experienced depth 6-deep at the tackle position. Whoever loses the starting competition between Beau Blackshear and Javonte Magee will be a top backup, rotating in with last year’s starter Byron Bonds and two guys that started games earlier in their career in Valdez and Masumbuko.
This position can go three lines deep and still have players that are proven Big 12 players, something that no other position on the Bears can say. The backup rotation of Bonds, Blackshear, Valdez and Masumbuko is as good as most defensive line rotations the Bears have had in the last 20 years.
CLASS BALANCE –9
With 1 senior in former junior college transfer Terell Brooks, and a representative for every class, the Bears class balance is also exceptional. The only thing missing is a 2015 commitment for the Bears. The Bears two starters right now are two sophomores that have at least 1 more year on campus, and should have all but Brooks back next year, so it is not imperative for the coaching staff to get multiple defensive linemen in the 2015 class. Look for them to load up in 2016 though.
NEXT YEAR – 10
With all but the senior Terell Brooks coming back, the Bears should have an even better defensive line next year. Billings should have a full year of starting under his belt, and will only keep getting better and better. Magee will not have the rust factor next year, after sitting out all of 2013. The depth could even be better, with Andrew Morris and Josh Malin redshirting in 2014. This is a position that is absolutely loaded for 2014 and 2015 at least.
FUTURE YEARS – 3
After the next two to three years though, the strength of this position is a question mark. With no signings for the 2015 class so far, and not more than 1 expected, the Bears don’t have that 5-year guy in the system. Josh Malin profiles as a top level DT, but will have to bulk up a bit to get there. Andrew Morris is more of a project, but has a good frame. With the commitment of Darrion Daniels or a top 2016 DT recruit, this grade would look much better.
The defensive tackle spot is a key aspect of the Bears defense, as they have to hold up against the run, with smaller linebackers behind them. The Baylor defense depends on them holding strong at the line of scrimmage, and forcing the pocket back to allow the ends and blitzers time and a better angle to get to the quarterback as well.
TOTAL – 45
For the next 2, maybe three seasons, enjoy some of the best defensive tackle play the Bears have had in a long time. Andrew Billings is a true star in the making, with supernatural strength and a developing game. Javonte Magee is as talented as any lineman in the country, and is looking at rewriting his history after last year’s issues. With those two anchoring the line for the next few years, Baylor has a strong front two to be the foundation of an improving defense.