Baylor Bear Insiders
Come a year later Connor GalvinJunior defensive end fourth-year gift hall has seen Baylor’s left tackle develop into the top offensive lineman in the Big 12.
“As I’ve grown and gotten better, he’s grown and gotten better, too,” Hall said after Monday’s practice session. “My game had to adapt every day. I feel like we’re up against the best offensive line in training, so we’re getting better every day. And once we’re there in the games, we’re prepared.”
After claiming he wins about half of the one-on-one fights with Galvin in pass-rushing drills, the 6-6, 296-pound Hall was quick to quip, “Don’t ask him, please.”
“This is the best o-lineman in the Big 12,” Hall said. “If you want good work, if you want good competition, you compete against him. I just love competing against him.”
Senior defensive end in fifth year Braden Utley said “it’s a battle every day” when it comes to offense, “and that’s going to make us and the whole team better as the season progresses.”
“It’s just the best,” he said. “We have to bring our ‘A’ game every day and they have to bring theirs.”
Senior defensive end during the sixth year Cole Maxwell Says he’ll probably be fed up with those fights by the end of fall camp: “I know they’re the best in the country and they’re going to help us get better during this camp. We have two of the best O-lines and D-lines in the nation, I would say.”
PASS RUSH IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Highlighted by a Sugar Bowl record 10 sacks in the 21-7 win over Ole Miss, Baylor’s defense ranked among the nation’s elite pass-rushing teams with 44 sacks last year.
Hall, who had three of his six sacks in a road win at Kansas State, said the bears only scratched the surface last year.
“Oh, we’re still building and it’s going to be a lot better than last year,” said Hall, who was second on the team in sacks behind Linebacker Terrell Bernhard (7.5). “I’m really happy about our pass rush. We valued that and we’re getting better every day.”
Maxwell said the D line will “pick up where we left off.”
“We work on moves every day,” he said. “Getting off the ball, getting off the rock is a big part of that.”
DIVINE INTERVENTION: Utley graduated from Loyola High School in Huntington Beach, California, and had a few offers from Division III schools and a junior college before going on an email blitz.
“Honestly, I tried to talk to people in every way I could,” he said. “One of my high school coaches found an email from someone in the (Baylor football) office that I emailed and they then took it to recruiting. And they were actually the only school that answered me. Three weeks later, I actually had a chance to move on. So there was a lot to it, but it really was a divine intervention in a way that brought me to Baylor.
After skipping the 2018 season, Utley was a special teams staffer on the 2019 Sugar Bowl team and then made 20 tackles and a fumbled recovery in the COVID-shortened 2020 sophomore. Last summer, he earned a scholarship and made six starts that year, finishing with 24 tackles, two sacks and one interception for the 2021 Big 12 champions.
“It was pretty much everything I dreamed of and worked for,” Utley said of the scholarship. “I always had a dream of calling my parents and saying, ‘Hey, you don’t have to pay for school anymore. I had this opportunity a year ago and it’s been amazing ever since.”
DON’T LOOK AT ALL: The Bears, who were ranked eighth in last year’s Big 12 Coaches preseason poll, have apparently surpassed that by winning a school record 12 games (12-2) and their third conference title in nine years to have.
A year later, they are the preseason favorite and ranked 10thth in the poll of AFCA coaches released on Monday.
“Honestly, we don’t look at that stuff,” said the senior defenseman TJ Franklinwho was a third-team pick-on athlon Magazine’s Preseason All-Big 12 Team. “All we know is that we have a job to do, so we come out and grind every day. We know we have the potential to win the championship again and potentially go to the playoffs and win the national championship. So, I feel like we just gotta keep our heads down and grind every day and get better.
“THIS IS OUR FASTBALL:” Before eventually signing a football memorandum of understanding with Baylor in February 2017, Maxwell committed to playing baseball at the University of New Mexico as a first baseman and a hard throwing right-handed pitcher.
Now his fastball stops the run for Baylor’s defense.
“Our motto is to let the ball run and stop the run. That’s our fastball,” said Maxwell, who was second on Baylor’s defensive line last season with 27 tackles, adding 1 ½ sacks, two QB hoes and a fumble recovery. “We’re going to come out every day and run the ball and stop the run.”