Baylor added strength up front to its 2018 recruiting class as offensive lineman Johncarlo Valentin from ASA College in Brooklyn signed his national letter of intent on Wednesday.
The 6-5, 330-pound Valentin is the No. 21 junior college recruit in the country and the No. 1 junior college offensive guard, according to ESPN. He was a four-star recruit out of Imhotep Institute Charter School in Philadelphia who originally signed with Oklahoma but went the junior college route.
Rhule recruited Valentin when he was coaching at Temple University and believes he will give Baylor some much needed offensive line experience.
“He’s a big, strong, powerful young man, and when this opportunity became available I was glad to get him on board,” Rhule said. “With his maturity, size and toughness, he will help us this year. He’s athletic enough to play tackle and powerful enough to play guard.”
The addition of Valentin will give the Bears 22 signees in a 2018 class that’s ranked No. 23 nationally by ESPN. Twenty-one players signed in the new early period in December.
Two players coveted by Baylor chose other schools Wednesday as Schertz Clemens wide receiver Tommy Bush signed with Georgia and Alief Taylor linebacker Joseph Ogunbanjo signed with California.
After his 1-11 debut season, Rhule believes Baylor addressed many of the team’s needs. Last month’s addition of Temple University graduate transfer cornerback Derrek Thomas will give the Bears more experience in the secondary.
“I think we did what we had to do to build along the offensive and defensive lines and bring a lot of speed to the class,” Rhule said. “Derrek Thomas will probably be an early draft pick next year. I think we’ll have a great mix. There’s always a possibility we could add to the class. It would probably be a graduate transfer.”
Baylor’s offensive line was an obvious weakness last season, prompting Baylor to sign five high school players, including Katy’s Connor Galvin, Bryan’s Ylijaah Hall, Southlake Carroll’s Jackson Kimble, Franklin’s Casey Phillips and Baton Rouge (La.) Tara’s Princeton Pines. Additionally, former Clemson offensive lineman Jake Fruhmorgen will be eligible to play in the fall after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Highly recruited dual-threat quarterback Gerry Bohanon from Earle, Ark., is the only new quarterback in the class. But Rowlett senior quarterback Preston Weeks announced Sunday that he’s coming to Baylor as a preferred walk-on to give the Bears more depth behind sophomore Charlie Brewer and Bohanon.
Crosby’s Craig Williams is the only running back in the class, but Baylor signed four wide receivers including Silsbee’s Kalon Barnes, Cedar Hill’s Joshua Fleeks, Mansfield’s Jackson Gleeson and Miami (Fla.) Washington’s Tyquan Thornton. Baylor also signed tight ends Christoph Henle from Arlington Oakridge, Cuero’s Bralen Taylor and San Antonio Clark’s Ben Sims.
Jalen Hurd, a senior transfer from Tennessee, is also expected to give the Baylor receiving corps a boost after he redshirted last fall under NCAA transfer rules.
Six defensive players signed with Baylor in December, including DeSoto cornerback Byron Hanspard Jr., Friendswood Clear Brook cornerback Mark Milton, Porter safety Christian Morgan, Cibole Steele safety J.T. Woods, Houston Lamar defensive end Josh Landry, and Marshall defensive end Marje Smith. Issac Power from Parker (Colo.) Ponderosa rounds out the class.
Baylor will begin spring drills March 15 and the annual spring game will be April 21.
Baylor picked up a 2019 verbal commitment from Hakeem Vance, a 6-2, 194-pound safety from Olive Branch, Miss. Vance chose Baylor over Kentucky, Mississippi State and Louisiana-Lafayette. He’s the third Baylor commitment in the 2019 class.