Here are three takeaways from Baylor head coach Dave Aranda’s Monday press conference:
Aranda told reporters on Monday that the biggest goal for the offseason is to be more aggressive regarding NIL money in recruitment. He said his mindset on NIL is why there hasn’t been a major emphasis in that area.
“I think the way it stands right now just with our record and with the amount of freshmen that are playing on our team. …. We are kind of the perfect example of a team to be poached [by other teams,” Aranda said. “So, all that’s in play right now and is happening right now and is something that I’m spending a lot of time on.
“So, whether that’s NIL for the guys on our team and getting that to where that is way competitive. And then, for guys that are coming in, and that are going to be on our team and all that, I think it’s something that is a major focus.”
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Aranda isn’t into the whole name, image and likeliness thing. After all, he preaches a “Person Over Player” mindset that bleeds through the football program. There’s not much info on the monetary value of Baylor’s NIL presence, but he alluded to him preferring to have NIL money distributed as even as possible.
In short, all players get a similar amount of NIL benefits, the opposite of how most power conference teams execute NIL. Basically, USC star quarterback and 2022 Heisman winner Caleb Williams wouldn’t be able to make substantially more money than the backup left guard if he were at Baylor.
Even when Baylor had a down year in 2022, the team knew it had an NFL-ready player in Siaki “Apu” Ika, who’s now playing for the Cleveland Browns on Sundays. There are a couple of other guys from that squad who made their way to the NFL as well, but none were shoe-ins like Ika.
And now, with the Bears in the midst of a 3-8 season, is there a player on the roster who can make it to that level? Aranda believes defensive lineman Gabe Hall may be on that path.
“I think he’s got some invitations to things already,” Aranda said. “I think Gabe has always been one where all the talent is there and it’s just the mindset. … He’s playing his best football right now. And so I think he would be one for sure. I think we’ve got a couple of others that have a potential for a shot but I think he would be the clear one.”
Featured is Baylor’s Gabe Hall, who apparently hit 18.2 mph on GPS and can also bench 500 and clean 450 at 6’5 295.
Saying Baylor is desperate for a win would be putting it lightly. The Bears are 1-6 at home this season and are riding a four-game losing streak. With West Virginia rolling into town this weekend, Aranda said a win would mean everything to this squad right now.
“I think that for the team, it would be a relief,” Aranda said. “For the team, it would be, ‘This is what that feels like.’ For the team, it would be validation for working hard. For the team, it would be a way to send the seniors out winners. For the team, it would be that ‘I am a good player. I am on a good team. We can rise up and play our best when it matters.’”
Baylor opened the week as 6-point underdogs to the Mountaineers.