• Baylor lines lead the way for 10th-ranked BU football in 2022

    Baylor defense takes down a Longhorn opponent

    The list of superlatives that the Baylor Bears carry into the 2022 football season is pretty glossy, and every fan can proudly recite them:

    This is rarified air for the Bears. But however lofty the praise, head coach Dave Aranda’s team enters the season aiming to once again ensure that the end is better than the beginning.

    This year’s version of the Bears blends an intriguing mix of veterans in the trenches and young talent at the skill positions. With six players drafted by NFL teams last year — the most of any school in Texas — the 2022 squad has multiple veterans to replace. A big reason for confidence despite the losses of stalwarts like Jalen Pitre, Terrel Bernard and Tyquan Thornton can be found up front: those good old Baylor (offensive and defensive) lines.

    On offense, the Bears’ line is widely considered one of the nation’s best. Connor Galvin, Jacob Gall, Grant Miller and Khalil Keith all decided to return for another year, providing Baylor with an enviable level of experience to protect a young quarterback in Blake Shapen. Galvin, the reigning Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year and a preseason All-American, leads the way for a group that allowed just 18 sacks in 14 games and paved the way for the Bears to lead the Big 12 in rushing.

    On the other side of the line, the Bears’ defensive line provides even more strength in the trenches — and, like the offense, is considered among the nation’s finest. Defensive tackle Apu Ika, another preseason All-American, anchors the middle, and he’s surrounded by veterans like Chidi Ogbannaya and Gabe Hall. Those returners are bolstered by Jaxon Player, a Waco native and grad transfer who amassed seven sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss over his last two seasons at Tulsa.

    Shapen, a redshirt sophomore, won the starting quarterback job in spring ball. He’ll look to build off an impressive close to last season, when injuries opened the door for him to start and win the season finale against Texas Tech and the never-to-be-forgotten Big 12 title game against Oklahoma State (where he completed his first 17 passes and earned Most Outstanding Player honors). While Shapen will be surrounded by young players at running back and wide receiver — and practicing against a new-look defensive backfield — talent abounds around the field.

    It all begins Saturday against Albany at 6 p.m.; tickets are available online.

    Sic ’em, Baylor football!

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