July 6, 2012

The Baylor Blitz

In case you missed our interview on 1660AM ESPN, we invite you to take a listen to Thursday's visit on "You Make The Call". Beginning with this entry, this is a regular feature that we will include in The Blitz every week.

Rivals Underclassmen Challenge is Sunday afternoon at DeSoto High School. About 250 of the state of Texas' and likely around the region are expected to attend the event.

There are plenty of Baylor 2014 targets who should be there especially in the secondary including Mansfield Timberview's Brandon Simmons, Houston Lamar's John Bonney and Hebron safety Jamal Adams. Adams is slowly but surely adding more attention as time goes on.

Baylor was the latest to offer the lanky 6-1, 195-pound Adams. That adds to the ones he already has collected from Kentucky, West Virginia and TCU. But the word was getting out during his sophomore year when he shared then-District 8-5A Newcomer of the Year honors. That district was comprised of the Lewisville, Plano and Allen schools. His stock continued to rise when he camped at Texas A&M, Texas and TCU in June.

"I can play corner or safety,'' he said. "Wherever somebody needs me to play, I'll do it. I'm really taking this process day by day. I don't want commit early like a lot of people do.''

Adams comes from NFL legacy. His father George spent six seasons in league between the New York Giants and New England Patriots.

But it's clear that Baylor's coaching staff has locked into playmakers who have the size to match. Remember, Bonney is 6-1 as well.

Adams said his strength is running downhill, being a ball hawker and hitter. But he knows that if he plays more cornerback this year, he's going to have to work on his backpeddling skills and overall footwork.

"That's something my coaches are doing with me all the time,'' Adams said. "I'm starting to get know Baylor a little more since I met with coach [Jim Gush]. He seems like a really good guy. They're a good program and maybe I can get down there and watch them play this fall.''

Though Baylor only offered Victory Valley CC defensive tackle Abens Cajuste in the past 10 days, the California JUCO product had prior knowledge of the Bears.

"I knew a little bit about Baylor before the offer," said Cajuste, who got the offer from and is in somewhat frequent communication with Baylor assistant coach Jim Gush. "They're on the rise and had a great lear last year. I do know they sent a defensive lineman to the Cleveland Browns (Phil Taylor), who transferred from Penn State."

At least 10 other programs had already offered Cajuste, a Miami (Fla.) product who originally signed with Central Connecticut State, but Cajuste intimated that Baylor is on level footing with the other programs in pursuit.

"There is interest there," he said. "I'm excited about the offer and I like Baylor. I'm thinking about going to see Baylor. I haven't visited a single program yet, but I like Baylor and would like to get down there."

My conversation with Cajuste was brief, so I'll be reaching out to him more this summer to monitor how his recruiting unfolds. If Baylor stays on him, the Bears should have a solid chance at landing him.
- Jake Shaw

He hasn't been timed in the 40-yard dash nearly two years, but it doesn't a combine event to know Dallas Skyline 2014 defensive back Cedric Collins is a high caliber Division I recruit.

Collins already has 11 offers including Baylor. And you don't have to worry about his speed. His personal best in the 200 is 22.1 seconds and personal best in the 400 is 49.54. He also runs a leg on the 4x100 relay.

But Baylor coaches Brian Norwod and Carlton Buckels have done their part to get into Collins' thinking process.

"I really feel comfortable around those guys,'' Collins said. "They like me at cornerback because they like my ball skills and technique. But the best thing is that they will be truthful with you and will push you to get you to play better.''

It's going to be a busy July for Collins. On Sunday, he will be attending Rivals' Underclassmen Challenge at DeSoto. He's also planning on attending TCU's camp on July 12, LSU's camp on July 15 and Baylor's camp on July 20. The visit to Waco will be the fourth one this year. He attended the March 4 junior day, the March 21 pro day and the spring game in April.

Should he go to LSU's camp, that's when he thinks the Tigers will offer him. Then the fun really begins. Skyline is already Dave Campbell's Texas Football pre-season No. 1 Class 5A team and is looking to play for a state championship this fall after losing a heartbreaker to Southlake Carroll in the state semifinals.

"It's really kind of humbling,'' said Collins who is going to be three-year starter. "I'm not going to talk about my offers unless somebody asks. I'm really good with my man press but have to work on my off man coverage space. I have a way to go.''

On June 30, Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard ceded his chairmanship of the Big 12 athletic director's committee to Texas' DeLoss Dodds.

It's just a procedural move in which the position rotates to the end of the fiscal calendar. But Pollard spoke for a conference membership in which at a time in which there was great change. The conference watched Texas A&M and Missouri leave and West Virginia and TCU join.

The conference is also about to close a 13-year deal with ESPN and FOX in which members are going to clear about $20 million per season because of equal revenue sharing. Plus, the conference members gave the league the grant of rights for the same time period. So SicEmSports.com visited with Pollard about some of the pressing issues:

Regarding the recent announcement of the conference allocating an all-time high $19 million per team from the 2011-12 season.

"It's significant. It calmed the waters of two years of turmoil of who was where and what it meant for survival. It's vital to all our programs with coaching salaries and operating budgets. It was critical. But we were already ahead of it. Our school president wanted to take advantage of what we knew was coming. We will open a new track, soccer, baseball and indoor football complex. We were moving forward when many people were saying the sky was falling. We wanted to get something longterm.''

As for the recent change in the NCAA deregulation of communication with recruits. Basketball coaches could start contacting recruits in all forms in mid-June. Football coaches can start in 2013.

"It was long overdue. You were in a situation where you policing things that you couldn't. As a result, it became a bureaucracy. I know Baylor just went through something like that. But the time had come. Really, it's going to come down to student athlete determining when enough's enough.''

Pollard also shared his thoughts on conference realignment.

"I'll speak to what I feel. I've said all along that if I had my druthers, I'd stay at 10 teams in the conference. But my head isn't buried in the sand either. If it comes to a point where it will be fully explored then fine. But I think a lot of the dust has to settle first with the television deal and working through the details on the playoff format.''

Pollard's view has been pretty much the common denominator we've been hearing about the Big 12's pursuit of expansion. We shared a report that the conference would only look to expand with Notre Dame in emails that were exchanged earlier this year.

Given the talk of Florida State's recent interest, sources close to Florida State tell us that everything has become pretty quiet on that front. Plus, there are three other elements that either have slowed or completely eroded FSU's chances of leaving the conference - at least in the short term.

First, Tuesday's announcement of ACC's 12-year extension with the Orange Bowl pretty much solidified that conference in being a part of the new playoff format. If the ACC has a team in the semifinals (Florida State or whoever), another ACC team would go to the game. If one of the national semifinals is played at the Orange Bowl, then the ACC champion - if it's not in that game - will play in one of the six bowl games that will be a part of the rotation. While money distribution has yet to be determined, this really doesn't give FSU a lot of room to complain.

Second, outspoken FSU Board of Trustees chairman Andy Haggard is no longer the chair. The role has transitioned to Allan Bense who appears to share the same sentiment with president Eric Barron of remaining in the ACC.

Third, if Florida State is going to notify the ACC it intends to withdraw, it would have to notify the conference by Aug. 15. Time is running out there and you didn't hear of a lot of behind-the-scenes movement at this time this year like you did at this time last year when the Texas A&M-to-the-SEC talk was heating up. Anything can happen but there appear to be a lot of moving parts.

Emptying out the notebook:
* Regardless of the outcome of his legal issues, it appears defensive end Tevin Elliot's tenure with Baylor is over. A source confirmed to SicEmSports.com that he will be transfer Central Arkansas. "If it all works out, that's where he'll go," the source said. Elliott was indefinitely suspended. He was arrested and later charged with sexual assault.

* It was another all-time high for the Bear Foundation. Earlier this week, the athletic department announced it had raised more than $8.2 million from its nearly 3,000 members in scholarship support. For the most-recent fiscal year, which ended May 31, the Bear Foundation contributed a record $8.2 million for scholarship support of Baylor's 19 intercollegiate programs through annual giving ($6.0 million), endowment interest ($1.3 million) and sky box revenues ($832,195).

The BBF's 2011-12 contribution is an increase of more than $600,000 over its 2010-11 then-record gift of $7.6 million, and its annual giving total was also a Foundation record. The Bear Foundation's year-end totals do not reflect any capital gifts received during the year.

Publisher Todd Wills contributed to this report.

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