August 3, 2012

Baylor Blitz: A look at 2014

Every Thursday at 5:15 p.m., a member of Sicemsports.com goes live on ESPN 1660 AM in Waco to talk all things Baylor. If you missed Kevin Lonnquist's appearance yesterday, you can click on to this link. Next week is Todd Wills.


Kansas DE is Popular
It didn't take long for Peyton Newell to earn the respect from Division I programs. Without question he is one of the top 2014 strongside defensive ends.
And he keeps track of everything including the order in which he received his offers. Baylor was his third back in April.

"It's definitely exciting and overwhelming,'' Newell said. "We're just getting started with this. But I'm not picking a final four or five and then make a decision until next summer.''

The Hiawatha, KS native said he has been receiving heavy interest from Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska and Oklahoma State. However, Baylor linebackers coach Jim Gush has made his impression.

"I've really built a good relationship with coach Gush,'' Newell said. "Baylor is definitely a great academic school. I hope I can get down there and visit. The good thing is that it's in a conference (Big 12) where I want to play.''

Blessed with raw strength and a rigorous offseason strength and conditioning program, Newell recently just set school records in the power clean (315 pounds), bench (350), squat (630) and front squat (515).

His camp schedule was pretty hectic including a visit to the Rivals underclassmen challenge July 8 in DeSoto.
Right now, he has planned unofficial fall visits to Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Oklahoma. That doesn't mean anything good or bad for Baylor. It's just a matter of seeing how the schedule can work.

"This season, I want to show the nation why I have this many scholarship offers,'' Newell said. "I've really worked hard in the offseason to get ready this fall.''


Coppell's Thomas Knows Baylor
Then, there's Coppell 2014 defensive end Solomon Thomas who has also started to gain some attention from quality programs.

Thomas has an offer from Baylor as well as several others including Stanford, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Clemson and UCLA. The rising talent went to camps at Stanford, UCLA and Texas. He attended Baylor spring game back in April.

"They're definitely a building program,'' Thomas said of Baylor. "It's a very nice community and they have the room to get better. But I don't look at a program if it's going to help me get to the NFL. I want to go there for a great education and see if that school is always going to support me no matter what. Baylor has some of that.''

Thomas said he doesn't have any favorites at this point. He's still very early into his college evaluations. He's talked with assistant coach Jim Gush and is looking into attending a game or two this fall.


Alaka Growing up Fast
There was a reason Cy Falls linebacker Otaro Alaka was told by his coaching staff to attend Baylor's June 2 camp - the first of the camp season -- at the high school.

"Coach [Kirk] Eaton told me that if I went to the camp, that Baylor might offer me,'' Alaka said. "So I thought I better do that.''

And that turned out to be the case. The Bears were the first to offer the budding 2014 outside linebacker. Oklahoma State and Arkansas have since followed with offers.
Alaka's rise in 2011 was pretty impressive. He began the season on the junior varsity before being promoted for the second game of the year. However, he didn't start until the latter half of the season.

So while his numbers may look so-so - 36 tackles - realize that he got the maximum out of his playing time. He collected 22 solos, nine tackles for loss and three sacks.

Cy Falls' defense bases out of the 3-4. Alaka can be used as a contain player on the perimeter in which he can be used as an extra pass rusher but has the flexibility to cover the inside receiver.

While some schools may be leery of hi 4.7 speed, it's obvious there are other intangibles in play because two Big 12 schools and a SEC school would not have offered unless they felt he could compete at a high level. Plus, he still has a developing frame at 6-2.

Alaka didn't play with his 7-on-7 team because of a minor knee injury. He was held out more for precautionary reasons but said he is healthy for the fall.

"I just have to get faster,'' he said. "Schools like my size and I guess they could see how I picked up the defense. I just have to make more of an impression this year.''


Emptying the Notebook
* Hemphill athlete Justin Twine is a pretty good baseball player. He's a shortstop for his select team, which was playing in a tournament this past weekend in Georgia. The 2014 standout is trying to determine if he can do both baseball and football when he's in college. Twine, who was offered by Baylor when he attended the June 8 camp in Marshall, said the Baylor coaches kept him at running back when he went through that camp. He's been playing wide receiver at others. That's probably where he's going to be in college, although he's going to be a three-year starting quarterback with his high school program. Twine said he is receiving some interest from Texas A&M, TCU and Texas. However, Baylor is his only offer.

* Aug. 15 will be the date that everyone will know Hebron athlete Kiante' Griffin's fate. That's the date Baylor coaches should know if he will be ready to go to school. He is the lone player from the 2012 class who has yet to report. Thus, Griffin is not starting workouts on Friday. Those of you who have followed his story know that he has had a challenging academic road. Baylor starts its fall semester Aug. 20.

* With dirt already being moved, Baylor Stadium is on course to open in 2014. The contracting firm of Flintco Constructive Solutions, which has an office in Austin, has been selected for the 45,000-seat stadium. The "last" hurdle is for the Waco City Council to give its final approval Tuesday at its scheduled meeting. That's pretty much a formality. The university has raised between $100-150 million but the momentum is such that the necessary $250 million will be secured within a reasonable timeframe.



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