Photo via Gordon DeLoach, TexasHSFootball.com

 

The Baylor Bears are heading into the first year of the Matt Rhule era, a year that will challenge and stretch them. The new head coach has the opposite identity that the rest of the Big 12 (and Baylor’s former regime) does, he likes to play the defensive game while the rest of the conference is remembered for their wide-open offense. Baylor is going to have to make some major adjustments going into the upcoming season, and these 5 players will help ease that transition period.

Linebacker Taylor Young

The beefy senior, who is built more like an old-school linebacker than the new breed, who are trained to defend the pass more often than the run, can lay the wood. He racked up 17 total tackles in one game against Iowa State last year, and will be counted on to play nearly every down, as Baylor will be struggling with depth.

Running Back Terence Williams

If there’s anyone who can keep the time of possession battle in Baylor’s favor, it’s Williams. He’s a big bulldozer of a running back who also has just enough breakaway speed. He was excellent in the old Baylor system, and now with an even bigger emphasis on running the ball, he might just thrive.

Defensive Lineman K.J. Smith

With K.J. Smith, Rhule will get a great pass rusher who can conceivably put pressure on the passer from any position on the defensive line. I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see him lining up on the outside of a tackle on second down and then flipping to a head up “0” shade over the center on some long third downs. Defensive line might be Baylor’s deepest position on the defense in terms of experience, and Smith will definitely lead that charge.

Wide Receiver Chris Platt

K.D. Cannon is gone, as well as Ish Zamora. Enter Chris Platt, one half of a wide receiver duo that could end up being just as good as their predecessors were. Platt has had flashes of greatness in 2016, but the bigger name guys got the most targets. He finished third on the team in receiving yards. Now, with those two gone, he’s more than likely going to be the go-to guy for whoever comes out of that quarterback race.

Wide Receiver Blake Lynch

Lynch isn’t exactly under the radar if you’re a hardcore Baylor fan, but he’s definitely not a household name in the rest of the conference. That might all change in 2017. The tall, strong inside receiver has a knack for making plays after the catch, and can get open relatively easily.

 

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