Twenty days after he became Baylor’s head football coach, Dave Aranda added five players to the Bears’ 2020 signing class on Wednesday’s NCAA national signing day.

Baylor’s class is small with only 17 players, including 12 from the early signing period in December. But Aranda addressed some needs by signing quarterback Blake Shapen, offensive lineman Micah Mazzccua and a trio of safeties in Mike Harris, Chateau Reed and Alfahiym Walcott.

“I’m so proud of our staff for putting together a recruiting class,” Aranda said. “A lot of the connections that the previous staff had made, we were able to build off of that. There’s a few that when I came that were guys that I knew about. But the majority of them were guys that we were on, that we had identified.”

Aranda hit the ground running after he accepted the Baylor job on Jan. 16 following a four-year stint as LSU’s defensive coordinator that culminated with a national championship on Jan. 13 when the Tigers beat Clemson.

In 10 days, Aranda and his staff visited a mind-boggling 270 Texas high schools. Though Baylor didn’t sign any Texas high school players on Wednesday, Aranda began laying the groundwork for future classes.

Aranda has relied a great deal on the three former Texas high school coaches he retained from Matt Rhule’s staff, including outside linebackers coach Joey McGuire, tight ends coach Shawn Bell and football relations staff member David Wetzel.

“It was a great reception,” Aranda said. “Having the opportunity to meet with coaches and see some of the top talent out in the state, see some of the kids coming up here in the years to come was a benefit to us. So we will get it started quickly and I’m excited about that start.”

An ESPN four-star recruit, Shapen chose Baylor over USC, UCLA and Arizona State. He had previously been committed to Arizona State but reopened his recruitment in early December.

The dual-threat quarterback passed for 2,049 yards and 24 touchdowns while rushing for 324 yards and five scores as a senior for Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport. Rated the No. 1 shortstop in Louisiana in the 2020 class, Shapen also plans to play baseball for the Bears.

Aranda worked with BU baseball coach Steve Rodriguez in helping to convince Shapen to sign,

“I’m so proud and happy to be associated with Coach Rodriguez and his staff,” Aranda said. “They really hit it out of the park and were a big, big help in landing Blake. What I love about that, No. 1, is just the team effort in recruiting. And then No. 2, just the athletic potential for someone that plays two sports and the dedication and the pure athleticism it takes. So that’s a win-win for us.”

Mazzccua had been previously committed to Michigan before he flipped to Baylor on Jan. 19, just three days after Aranda became the head coach. The massive 6-4, 340-pound offensive lineman from St. Frances (Md.) Academy is projected to play guard for the Bears.

“I have known about Micah for a while,” Aranda said. “I was very excited to build a connection with Micah and his ability to play offensive guard for us and fill those interior spots. He can pull, he can base, base-block with the best of them, and finish people.”

Reed had already verbally committed to Baylor before Rhule left to coach the NFL Carolina Panthers. At 6-2, 175 pounds, the Lawton (Okla.) High School star brings good size at safety.

“Chateau Reed is such a raw and lanky athlete,” Aranda said. “A guy that has a lot of flexibility. We are looking at him at safety, but he has played multiple positions. I think his best playing days are surely ahead of him. I’m looking forward to utilizing him in the center field, as well as the deep half.”

Harris is a highly-recruited safety from Phenix City (Ala.) Central High School who chose Baylor over Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. As a senior, he collected 75 tackles, two interceptions and recovered a fumble.

“I remember Mike from back when I was at LSU,” Aranda said. “We had him at camp and were always impressed with his tape. Mike is going to have the ability to play nickel, safety, blitz, cover, and set edges. He is an explosive athlete and I’m so excited to see what we can do with Mike.”

Walcott is a transfer from Butler (Kan.) Community College who will have three years of eligibility remaining for the Bears. As a freshman, the 6-2, 187-pound defensive back amassed 70 tackles and 14 pass breakups while intercepting three passes.

“I like his length, his size and speed ratio, his play-making ability,” Aranda said. “He can play corner, he can play safety. There are times that he could be down in the box and be back in the half at the middle of the field. His flexibility allows for us to have a great tool in terms of attacking with our back end.”

Aranda said he signed the three safeties because of their flexibility to play different positions.

“There are some safeties that will grow into linebackers, there are some safeties that could play nickel,” Aranda said. “There are some safeties that could be cover safeties, other safeties that could be back end, deep middle of the field or half-field safeties. A lot of those guys run really well, which allows you to build those units with really good speed. We had a shortage there, and I feel like we’ve addressed that. And I think that’s going to be a real strength for us moving forward.”

Aranda and his coaching staff have had a chance to meet many of the 12 December signees, and he’s glad they’re on board for the new era of Baylor football.

“We were able to bring quite a few of them back on campus,” Aranda said. “There were a few that came this last weekend. Throughout the state recruiting, in a lot of the schools that we visited, we would stop by and I would visit with families and we invited them to come on back. It was great to connect, and for them to meet their coaches and for them to spend time with me.”

Baylor hoped to sign a sixth player on Wednesday, but Manor defensive lineman Princely Umanmielen signed with Florida. Aranda said Baylor could still add some players before next season if they fit the team’s needs.

“We’ve got a couple spots available,” Aranda said. “I think you’re always going to look at what comes our way transfer portal-wise. I think we’re going to keep our eyes open and our ears close to the ground, kind of see what comes of it.”

Trib Top 100: Texas’ best 2020 high school recruits and where they’re headed

Trib Top 100: Texas’ best 2020 high school recruits and where they’re headed

*Top 30 recruit

+Top 50 recruit

#Committed, not signed

Name Ht Wt School Signed with
Name Ht Wt School Signed with
Hudson Card* 6-2 170 Lake Travis Texas
Haynes King* 6-2 175 Longview Texas A&M
Ja’Quinden Jackson* 6-2 219 Duncanville Texas
Malik Hornsby+ 6-3 180 Ford Bend Marshall Arkansas
Deuce Hogan+ 6-4 205 Grapevine Faith Chr. Iowa
Chandler Morris+ 5-10 172 Highland Park Oklahoma
Brendon Lewis 6-3 205 Melissa Colorado
Ken Seals 6-3 191 Weatherford Vanderbilt
Running backs
Name Ht Wt School Signed with
Zachary Evans* 6-0 195 Houston North Shore Undecided
Jase McClellan* 6-0 190 Aledo Alabama
Kevontre Bradford* 6-0 180 Lancaster LSU
Seth McGowan* 6-0 215 Mesquite Poteet Oklahoma
Taye McWilliams+ 6-1 205 Lamar Consolidated Baylor
Ty Jordan+ 5-9 180 West Mesquite Utah
Tahj Brooks 5-11 218 Manor Texas Tech
Jay’Veon Sunday 5-11 188 Connally Washington
Will Nixon 5-11 185 Midway Nebraska
Frank Brown 6-0 180 Houston Sterling Arizona
John Gentry 5-10 196 Houston North Shore Utah State
Wide receivers
Name Ht Wt School Signed with
Jaxon Smith-Njigba* 6-1 185 Rockwall Ohio State
Demond Demas* 6-3 180 Tomball Texas A&M
Loic Fouonji* 6-4 194 Midland Lee Texas Tech
Quentin Johnston* 6-4 190 Temple TCU
Parker Washington* 5-11 195 Richmond Travis Penn State
Savion Williams+ 6-4 200 Marshall TCU
Marvin Mims+ 6-1 168 Frisco Lone Star Oklahoma
Troy Omeire 6-5 202 Ford Bend Austin Texas
Ja’Lynn Polk 6-3 185 Lufkin Texas Tech
Thaddeus Johnson 6-0 180 Beaumont West Brook SMU
Dajon Harrison 5-10 178 Hutto Texas
Daniel Jackson 6-2 210 Cibolo Steele Iowa State
Lawrence Arnold 6-4 190 DeSoto Kansas
Devin Price 6-3 185 A&M Consolidated Texas A&M
Money Parks 5-11 172 Aledo Utah
Collin Sullivan 6-1 195 Round Rock Purdue
Latrell Caples 6-0 185 Lancaster Boise State
Trent Pullen 6-2 271 Connally Oklahoma State
Caleb Medford 6-2 190 Henderson TCU
Seth Jones 6-0 180 Pearland Shadow Creek Baylor
Tight ends
Name Ht Wt School Signed with
Jalen Conyers* 6-5 220 Gruver Oklahoma
Elijah Yelverton 6-5 235 Cedar Hill Trinity Chr. Iowa
Blake Smith 6-5 240 Southlake Carroll Texas A&M
Nick Patterson 6-4 325 San Antonio Chr. Undecided
Drake Dabney 6-6 230 Cypress Ranch Baylor
Brandon Frazier 6-7 237 McKinney North Auburn
Allen Horace 6-4 250 Crockett UTSA
Offensive linemen
Name Ht Wt School Signed with
Nate Anderson* 6-5 260 Frisco Reedy Oklahoma
Akinola Agunbiyi* 6-4 315 Sugar Land Kempner Texas A&M
Garrett Hayes* 6-5 290 Athens TCU
Jake Majors* 6-4 284 Prosper Texas
Andrej Karic+ 6-5 280 Southlake Carroll Texas
Ty’Kieast Crawford+ 6-7 310 Carthage #Kilgore College
Jaylen Garth+ 6-5 285 Port Neches-Groves Texas
Michael Nichols 6-4 255 Justin Northwest TCU
Smart Chibuzo 6-5 311 Missouri City Hightower Texas A&M
Damieon George 6-7 345 Houston North Shore Alabama
Courtland Ford 6-6 300 Cedar Hill USC
Logan Parr 6-4 278 Helotes O’Connor Texas
Joshua Bankhead 6-4 325 The Woodlands College Park Texas A&M
Tyler Bailey 6-5 290 Edinburg Vela Undecided
Derek Bowman 6-5 250 Magnolia Houston
Defensive linemen
Name Ht Wt School Signed with
Bernard Broughton* 6-6 285 Cypress Ridge Texas
Alfred Collins* 6-6 284 Bastrop Cedar Creek Texas
Chad Lindberg* 6-6 297 Clear Creek Georgia
Princely Umanmielen* 6-4 234 Manor Florida
James Sylvester+ 6-5 240 Newton Baylor
Robert Wooten 6-3 230 Stafford Virginia Tech
Alec Bryant 6-3 230 Pearland Shadow Creek Virginia Tech
Name Ht Wt School Signed with
Drew Sanders* 6-5 212 Denton Ryan Alabama
JoshWhite* 6-1 205 Cypress Creek LSU
Prince Dorbah* 6-4 215 Highland Park Texas
Brennon Scott+ 6-2 233 Dallas Bishop Dunne UNLV
Corey Flagg 6-0 215 Houston North Shore Miami
Defensive backs
Name Ht Wt School Signed with
Jaylon Jones* 6-2 185 Cibolo Steele Texas A&M
Xavion Alford* 6-1 184 Pearland Shadow Creek Texas
Jerrin Thompson* 6-0 175 Lufkin Texas
Jahdae Barron* 5-11 175 Pflugerville Connally Baylor
Jahari Rogers* 6-0 175 Lufkin Florida
Ryan Watts+ 6-3 186 Little Elm Ohio State
Chr. Gonzalez+ 6-1 180 The Colony Colorado
Bryson Washington+ 6-3 192 Houston King Oklahoma
RJ Mickens+ 6-0 187 Southlake Carroll Clemson
Jalen Kimber+ 6-0 167 Mansfield Timberview Georgia
Joshua Eaton+ 6-2 185 Aldine MacArthur Oklahoma
Kitan Crawford+ 5-11 190 Tyler John Tyler Texas
Avery Helm 6-2 170 Fort Bend Marshall Florida
Lorando Johnson 6-1 176 Lancaster #LSU
Chris Thompson 6-2 190 Duncanville Auburn
Darius Snow 6-2 205 Carrollton Hebron Michigan State
Collin Gamble 5-10 185 Argyle Liberty Chr. California
Chris Thompson 6-2 199 Duncanville Auburn
Name Ht Wt School Signed with
E.J. Smith* 5-11 194 Dallas Jesuit Stanford
Devon Achane+ 5-9 170 Fort Bend Marshall Texas A&M
Devon Graham 6-1 175 Keller Central Oklahoma
Jaden Hullaby 6-2 200 Dallas Timberview Texas
Kelvontay Dixon 6-0 175 Carthage Texas
Myles Price 5-9 165 The Colony Texas Tech
Michael Henderson 6-3 225 Irving Ranchview Oklahoma
Brian Darby 6-0 200 A&M Consolidated Oklahoma
Korie Black 6-0 165 Connally Oklahoma State
*Top 30 recruit
+Top 50 recruit
#Committed, not signed

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