September 7, 2012

Baylor Blitz: Athletes Aplenty

Bryan 2014 DB Starts to Appear
Baylor's coaching staff should have a reason to keep coming back to Bryan besides checking up on Chris Johnson. Assistant coach Randy Clements was in Bryan last week to watch Johnson but also continued to monitor 2014 athlete V.J. Banks. Coach Ross Rogers calls Banks one of the best athletes on his team.
Versatile to play either side, Banks is one of Johnson's targets as a flanker. But he played free safety in 2011.

"Wherever you want to put him, he's going to excel,'' Rogers said. "He's that kind of athlete. As a defensive back, you could tell on film that he has a great sense on when to break on the ball. But his hands are very good and that's why we want him on him offense.''

Baylor assistant Jeff Lebby first identified Banks back in the spring. Texas A&M has been tracking him because of a family connection. However, Rogers said that it doesn't mean the Aggies are in the lead.

In fact, this junior year could be very telling to see how many Division I programs really track him and eventually offer.

"He's going to be our quarterback next year,'' Rogers said. "He's that quick. He's that versatile and I think there are some people who will see what kind of a player he is. I know Baylor is interested. Art [Briles] and I are good friends.''

Bears looking at another Canadian
Baylor has successfully recruited the Great White North (i.e. Canada). But the Bears -- and their competition -- won't have to go as far for a certain Canadian.

That would be Canadian, Texas QB Ben Arbuckle, a Class of 2014 prospect who absolutely lit up the opposition in his first game as Canadian's starter. Arbuckle threw for 359 yards and 7 TDs in a season-opening 51-21 win over nearby Amarillo River Road.

Canadian, located near the top of the Texas panhandle, has been one of the best small-school programs in Texas the past six to seven years. It has won multiple district titles, two state championships, and has sent several kids to the next level, including two players to the DI ranks in 2011. And though its had some great QBs, the 6-foot-3 Arbuckle should be the first that advances to the FBS ranks.

"He has really good footwork," said Arbuckle's head coach, Chris Koetting. "It's really good. He's a smart kid. He understands the game and understands coverages. He loves football. He's a good teammate, and he can just flat throw the ball. And he has the size. We've had some really good quarterbacks that got overlooked because they were short or whatever. He will continue to get bigger and fill out. He really worked hard in the weight room this summer. I can seem him being 215 in a couple years."

Arbuckle drove all the way down to Waco for Baylor's season-opener against SMU. His father said Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Houston have started to recruit him. Baylor first showed interest when Arbuckle came to town for a summer camp.

Koetting has been with the program for years, so he and his staff spotted Arbuckle's talent a while ago. He sees it as a luxury now that Arbuckle has taken over the starting job.

"He's actually the tallest quarterback we've ever had," Koetting said. "We've never really had over 6 feet. Its been nice having a guy almost 6-4 back there. We knew he was going to be a pretty good-sized kid. He has a natural throwing motion."

For more on Arbuckle, check out his highlights from Canadian's win this past weekend.

- Jake Shaw

Keep an eye on this 2014 slot WR
When he moved from Phoenix to Colleyville Heritage Kaelin Deboskie already had the attention of the Arizona and Arizona State coaches.

But should he keep thriving in the Panthers' turbo spread attack, he could be fit as a slot receiver for somebody at the Division I level. He's only 5-9 but shifty, elusive and willing to deal with contact in the middle of the field.

In Colleyville Heritage's 54-38 victory over Denton Guyer, formerly ranked No. 1 in Class 4A and now 0-2, Deboskie caught a 17-yard touchdown pass on fourth and goal. The play came down the seam where Deboskie kept the corner off of him and cradled quarterback and Oklahoma commit Cody Thomas' strike at the goal line - maybe. It looked like he was down outside the goal line. The play brought redemption after Deboskie fumbled early in the game.

"My coaches in Arizona told me that if you fake it, and act like you scored, the referees will give it to you,'' Deboskie said. "I think this offense will show that I can work with the spread and make plays.''

He's just two games into his varsity career, so there's a lot more of this offense for him to learn. But Deboskie is one of those players a Division I program should investigate. Baylor's never had a problem inserting this kind of receiver in its attack.

"There's still a lot for him to adjust to,'' Colleyville Heritage coach Mike Fuller said. "The more exposure he gets, the better off he will be. He's a playmaker. I think he can help somebody in Division I.''

Since I was at the Colleyville Heritage-Denton Guyer game, there were plenty of 2013 and 2014 prospects. Here's my assessment:

* Colleyville Heritage quarterback Cody Thomas: I've always been a fan of his and love his competitiveness. There are some mechanical things he needs to work on. But I don't his style would have ever been a fit for Baylor.

*Denton Guyer wide receiver Ellis Jefferson: He's committed to Arizona State but could be a player that Baylor would want to look at if the staff needed to find a big target. He can fill out a uniform and his size is intimidating. Without question, he's a Division I player. Hands are pretty good. However, I don't think he's a contact guy. When a team puts a physical cornerback on him, he kind of backs off. He needs to fight for the ball more.

*Denton Guyer quarterback Jerrod Heard: You all remember I had him in a blitz earlier this summer before he committed to Texas. There's no doubt why Art Briles liked him. He's a great dual threat. He broke off a 75-yard touchdown run in the game and was smooth in doing so. Having said that, there are still a lot of things he has to work on with his passing mechanics. Heard doesn't have the touch ball and the ball doesn't fly out of his hands. Those are things to work on. He's not as tall as Chris Johnson so that's where Johnson may have the advantage. You can see why Texas wanted to lock him down. That staff wants another Vince Young type of quarterback.

Baylor Minor Leaguers finish season
Here's a look at how the players who were drafted in June completed their first professional season:

Catcher Josh Ludy
Lakewood, South Atlantic League, Class A, Philadelphia -- .271 1 HR, 12 RBI, .365 OBP, 19Ks Notable: In 107 at bats, 11 of 29 hits were doubles.

1B Max Muncy
Burlington, Midwest League, Class A, Oakland -- .275 4 HR, 23 RBI, 41BB, 37K in 229 ABs Notable: Muncy batted.400 over the last 10 games.

LHP Josh Turley
Connecticut, NY-Penn Short Season A, Detroit - 4-0, 1.06 ERA (4 ER/ 34 IP) in 12 appearances no starts, 23 hits, 25K, 5BB, .193 OBA
Notable:To be mindful of the team-leading 110 innings he threw with Baylor, Turley threw no more than four innings in any appearance

Big 12 Power Rankings
Every week in this space, provides its Power Rankings for the Big 12 conference. We unveiled our first edition in late August. Agree or disagree, this makes for great water cooler talk:

1. West Virginia (1-0) - Geno Smith and the Moutaineers deliver the most impressive performance of the weekend.

2. Oklahoma (1-0) - Sooners were not sharp mentally or physically at UTEP

3. Texas (1-0) - QB David Ash has the start coaches wanted

4. Baylor (1-0) - The Bears can move ahead of Texas if the Longhorns are unimpressive against New Mexico

5. TCU (1-0) - Horned Frogs getting ready to open the new Amon Carter Stadium

6. Oklahoma State (1-0) - We learned nothing about the Cowboys last Saturday

7. Kansas State (1-0) - RB John Hubert starts quickly

8. Iowa State (1-0) - Q
B Steele Jantz takes an important step

9. Texas Tech (1-0) - Red Raiders could be facing a huge trap at Texas State Saturday

10. Kansas (1-0) - QB Dayne Crist unimpressive in the opener

Big 12 Weekend
Miami (Fla.) (1-0) at No. 20/21 Kansas State (1-0)
11:00 a.m., Saturday, Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, KS. (FX)
The Skinny:
An experienced KSU team won in Miami last year. The 'Canes are even younger this year but rallied from an early deficit to win on the road last week at Boston College. Kansas State needs a quicker after struggling against Missouri State. Pass rush is a concern.

Iowa State (1-0) at Iowa (1-0)
2:30 p.m., Saturday, Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA (Big Ten Network)
The Skinny:
This is the annual battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy. It currently resides in Ames. But the Hawkeyes lead the overall series, 39-20. ISU QB Steele Jantz got his season off to the right start. Iowa has been devastated by RB ACL injuries but Texas product Damon Bullock emerged and helped the Hawks escape Northern Illinois last week, 18-17.

Rice (0-1) at Kansas (1-0)
2:30 p.m., Saturday, Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, KS. (Fox Sports Net)
The Skinny:
The Jayhawk defense produced four interceptions in last week's season opening win against South Dakota State and are looking to start 2-0. Rice was gutted by UCLA last week, 49-24. The Owls are expected to be doormats in Conference USA.

Florida A&M (0-1) at No. 5/5 Oklahoma (1-0)
6:00 p.m. Saturday, Owen Field, Norman, OK. (FS-Oklahoma/ PPV)
The Skinny:
OU coach Bob Stoops wasn't really happy with the mental busts and lackluster offensive line play against UTEP last week. The Sooners were sluggish in a 24-7 victory. The Rattlers lost their opener at Tennessee State, 17-14. That school is in the midst of a band hazel scandal.

Grambling State (0-1) at No. 17/20 TCU (0-0)
6:00 p.m. Saturday, Amon Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX (Fox Sports Southwet)
The Skinny:
The Horned Frogs play their first game as a Big 12 member and should cruise in the new ACS. The program is also trying to move forward after it was rocked by a drug scandal that surfaced in February.

Texas Tech (1-0) at Texas State (1-0)
6:00 p.m. Saturday, Bobcat Stadium, San Marcos, TX
The Skinny:
Tech quarterback Seth Doege was solid in his debut against Northwestern State throwing for nearly 200 yards and a TD. Texas State, under former TCU and Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione, scored a huge 30-13 upset at Houston last week. Now a D1 school, Texas State is looking to pull a second consecutive upset.

New Mexico (1-0) at No. 15/17 Texas (1-0)
7:00 p.m. Saturday, Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin (Longhorn Network)
The Skinny:
Texas wasn't overpowering in its 37-17 victory over Wyoming last week but the running game produced two 100-yard rushers in Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown. New Mexico is now being led by former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie.

No. 16/18 Oklahoma State (1-0) at Arizona (1-0)
9:30 p.m. Saturday, Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ. (PAC 12 Network)
The Skinny:
Arguably the game of the weekend with the untested Cowboys facing a challenge with Arizona, now under Rich Rodriguez. The Wildcats survived in overtime against Toledo, 24-17, and were explosive with 624 yards. They were stymied by three turnovers and breakdowns. The Cowboys manhandled undermanned Savannah State. Freshman QB Wes Lunt needs to be ready.

Baylor and West Virginia have the week off

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