Since Art Briles took over at Baylor in 2008, the Bears football program has been on a rapid upward trajectory, highlighted by Robert Griffin III's Heisman Trophy last season.
Briles, a long-time high-school football coach in Texas with a vast network of in-state contacts, has been steadily improving the program's profile on the recruiting trail, going from outside of the top 50 in 2009 to No. 39 in 2010 and No. 46 in 2011.
Now, after the school's most successful season in over a generation, he's continuing that momentum on the recruiting trail, with his 2012 class rated No. 36 by Rivals in the days before National Signing Day on Feb. 1.
And while Baylor doesn't have a great tradition, they are located in the heart of one of the deepest recruiting hot-beds in the country along I-35 from Austin to Dallas, with 22 of their 23 commitments coming from the state of Texas.
The Bears have verbals from three four-stars: Corey Coleman, a 5'11 180 WR with 4.3 40 speed from Richardson, Javonte McGee, a 6'5 260 defensive lineman from San Antonio and Brian Nance, a 6'3 210 LB from Euless.
Briles beat out most of the Big 12 for McGee, the No. 65 rated player in the nation.
Their other 20 commits, which include two junior college players on the defensive side of the ball (LB Eddie Lackey and DT Joey Searcy) who should be ready to step in and play immediately, are all rated as 3-stars by Rivals.
With rumors swirling in the days before recruits can first sign their Letters of Intent, Baylor is still in the mix for three four-star recruits who could send their class ranking shooting up the board: WR Thomas Robinson, who still has a dozen schools on his list, QB Jeremiah Briscoe, who also made official visits to Lamar, Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin, and OT Thomas Hines, who is also looking at Oklahoma State and Houston.
Currently, the Bears have the 5th highest rated class in the Big 12, although that could change in what's sure to be a frenetic final 36 hours before National Signing Day.