Why Baylor Football is Suddenly Becoming a Player on National Recruiting Scene

Lisa HornePac-12 and Big 12 Lead WriterJune 14, 2013

Remember when Baylor football was, well...Baylor football?

The Bears were almost viewed as a bye week for most Big 12 teams. In 2007, then-Big 12 member Colorado beat Baylor 43-23. The Bears posted a 3-9 record, and Colorado went bowling that year, losing to Alabama 30-24 in the Independence Bowl.

My, how things have changed. Since then, Baylor has won two bowl games and celebrated its first Heisman winner while Colorado has gone 17-44.

Baylor's success is due to head coach Art Briles.

After his hiring in 2008, Baylor endured consecutive 4-8 seasons. Since then, the Bears have gone 7-6, 10-3 and 8-5.

Baylor is still circled on most teams' schedules, but now it is viewed as an ''uh-oh'' game. This year that is especially true, because Baylor has another Heisman contender in running back Lache Seastrunk.

The Oregon transfer sat out 2011, but last year he showed why he is such a threat by finishing the season strong. In his last four games, Seastrunk rushed for 637 yards.

Briles is bringing in top-notch talent. His 2013 recruiting class was No. 27 in 247Sports' composite team rankings. Baylor's ranking was higher than Oklahoma State, West Virginia, TCU, Michigan State and Wisconsin.

The Bears' biggest catch was 5-star receiver Robbie Rhodes, who enrolled on June 2. He gives quarterback Bryce Petty another formidable weapon. The defense should also improve with the arrival of new faces from the same class, specifically 4-star linebacker Brian Nance and 4-star defensive tackle Andrew Billings.

Nance received offers from Oklahoma, Oregon and Notre Dame, while Billings received offers from Texas and Oklahoma.

And Briles is off to an even faster start with his 2014 recruiting class, which is ranked No. 8 by 247Sports

Two of Baylor's top three commits are defensive players. That in itself is a little shocking for a team known primarily for its prolific offense.

But there is more to this story. 

Briles has won over one of Alabama head coach Nick Saban's targets. Four-star safety Davion Hall received offers from Alabama, LSU and Texas.

Four-star linebacker T'Kevian Rockwell spurned offers from Michigan and Nebraska. Rockwell ran a 10.58-second 100-meter dash at the Plano Ron McNeil Invitational, according to 247Sports

Four-star running back Terence Williams received offers from Texas A&M and TCU. 

The assistants on Briles' staff are doing an incredible job, but one wonders, what is their secret?

Most assistant coaches are responsible for recruiting in a specific geographical area both in and out of state. The head coach or recruiting coordinator assigns a state or area to an assistant due to his ties to that area.

Prospects like to develop relationships with their position coaches starting from that first recruiting pitch. Because Baylor is in Waco, Texas, the state with the nation's most fertile recruiting territory, Briles' staff has the luxury of recruiting a local prospect with his future position coach. The relationship is developed at first contact.   

Hall was recruited by receivers coach Kendal Briles, Rockwell was recruited by linebackers coach Jim Gush and Williams was recruited by running backs coach Jeff Lebby. Each prospect has an established relationship with his position coach. 

That recruiting method is paying off for Baylor. Its recruiting staff can stay in-state and pluck up elite talent without ever having to set foot on a plane. Every prospect committed to Baylor is from Texas. 

The Bears are keeping their talent in their own backyard. That's why they've been successful.