Anticipating national signing day, Kam Martin doesn’t expect to get much sleep Tuesday night.
The star Port Arthur Memorial running back plans to sign with Baylor as soon as he wakes up Wednesday morning. Verbally committed to Baylor since July 2014, Martin can’t wait to pen his name on the dotted line.
“I’ve had every offer in America,” Martin said. “Schools are still coming after me. Oregon, Texas, Alabama and LSU have been leaving me voicemails. But you stay loyal to people who stay loyal to you. My biggest deal was Coach (Art) Briles and his staff said they were going to take one running back in this class and we’re going to stick with you.”
Martin will be one of many highly rated recruits who will sign with Baylor. The Bears’ 20-player 2016 recruiting class is ranked 11th nationally by Rivals.com, easily the best of the Briles era. That class could grow by a few more players as Wednesday’s signing day approaches.
The Bears’ class is a product of the success the program has enjoyed over the last five years as it has gone 50-15 with back to back Big 12 championships in 2013-14. Baylor’s class is rated the best in the Big 12 and is one spot ahead of national champion Alabama.
TCU’s class is ranked 15th while Oklahoma is No. 32 and Texas No. 46.
“This is about as star studded of a class as Baylor has had,” said Jason Howell, mid-South recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. “It’s not like they’re going out and reaching on guys. They’re getting guys people want who have been scouted and have played against top level competition.
“Things are definitely trending toward Baylor the last several years.”
Baylor’s class is loaded with premier offensive talent like Silsbee offensive lineman Patrick Hudson, Navasota receiver Tren’Davian Dickson, Sachse receiver Devin Duvernay, Copperas Cove offensive lineman J.P. Urquidez and Grandview quarterback Zach Smith.
“Hudson is one of these big hulking guys,” Howell said. “When you see him walk around, he immediately impresses you. Brandon Bowen has high jumped 6-9 and brings ridiculous athleticism to the table. Duvernay is a world class sprinter. Zach Smith has all the tools and is one of those guys Baylor can develop well.”
The Bears’ 2016 class began with Smith who verbally committed in June 2014 and is already enrolled at Baylor. He graduated from Grandview in December to be able to play spring football at Baylor.
Smith threw for 3,877 yards and 46 touchdowns as a senior and surpassed 10,000 career passing yards and 114 touchdown passes for the Zebras.
“Baylor was my No. 1 from the get-go,” Smith said. “I could have visited a whole bunch of other schools, but I wanted to go to Baylor. I think I’m a good fit and it’s a good offense to sling the football.”
Martin committed a month after Smith following a sophomore season in which he rushed for 1,047 yards. Martin has been so solid in his commitment that he’s got a big BU tattoo on his left arm.
“I like the offense and how Coach Briles puts amazing people in the NFL,” Martin said. “Baylor has come from the bottom and we still have big goals like reaching the national championship and winning the Big 12. People never thought Baylor would do that.”
A few days after Martin committed, Baylor landed two big 2016 recruits when Hudson switched his commitment from Texas A&M and Dickson chose the Bears. Hudson is one of the top-rated offensive linemen in the country while Dickson is a gifted receiver who had 211 career catches for 4,505 yards and 76 touchdowns at Navasota.
Dickson switched his commitment to Texas before coming back to Baylor last November. Like Smith, he signed a financial aid contract with Baylor for early enrollment this semester.
After landing Martin and Hudson, Baylor continued to mine the Beaumont area when Arnold committed in November 2014. Though he played both receiver and defensive back for Kountze, he’s projected to play defense for the Bears.
“Cornerback is what he likes playing best,” said Kountze coach Duane Joubert. “He’s a guy who can cover one-on-one because of his athletic ability.”
Baylor picked up its sixth commitment with Lancaster defensive back Kenan Ivy in March 2015. A month later, Copperas Cove’s 6-6, 300-pound offensive lineman J.P. Urquidez decided to stay in Central Texas and play at Baylor.
“I’m really comfortable with the coaches and I like the proximity to home,” Urquidez said. “Everything they do, I like to do. I feel like we can win a national championship.”
The Bears added a pair of defensive backs from Frisco in the spring of 2015 with Lone Star High School’s Chris Miller and Centennial’s Raleigh Texada.
But Baylor’s 2016 class really took off in the summer of 2015. During June and July, Baylor landed five players, including Daingerfield receiver Denzel Mims, Mesquite Horn receiver Jared Atkinson, Spring defensive lineman Bravvion Roy, Prestonwood Christian linebacker Deonte Williams and College Station defensive back Rajah Preciado.
Preciado chose Baylor mostly for its academics. He wants to be the CEO of his own business someday.
“The atmosphere was great, but I’m most interested in what the school can offer academically,” Preciado said. “Baylor is a great school in that regard and it’s close to home, so it was a perfect fit.”
After the 2015 season began, Baylor picked up another defensive back when Sachse’s Donovan Duvernay got on board. Two months later, his twin brother Devin committed as a wide receiver.
The Bears continued to build their defense by getting Fort Bend Hightower defensive end Micheal Johnson and Garden City (Kan.) Community College lineman Jeremy Faulk. Baylor added experience to its offensive line by signing Brandon Autry from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College.
On New Year’s Day, Baylor added one of the premier defensive linemen in the state when Bowen chose the Bears over Oklahoma, TCU, Oregon and Oklahoma State.
“Baylor has recruited me since the end of my sophomore year,” Bowen said. “They have a nice family atmosphere that I want to be around.”
The Bears could get a commitment from Kilgore College defensive lineman DeQuinton Osborne, who is visiting the Baylor campus this weekend. La Vega defensive back Parrish Cobb and Nacogdoches safety Brandon Jones are also possible late-hour additions to an already strong recruiting class.
Martin has been a Baylor commitment for so long that he’s already made friends with many players in the 2016 class.
“I know everybody who has committed,” Martin said. “We talk to each other. Devin Duvernay is going to be my roommate, so it’s a blessing.”