America's highest-scoring college football team the Baylor Bears will have their fastest receiver back for the Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 1 and that should improve the explosive offense which faltered at times without him, according to a recent Associated Press article.
Tevin Reese, who missed Baylor's only loss of the season to Oklahoma State, said the cast on his injured right wrist will be removed Friday. He expects to play for the No. 6 Bears against the University of Central Florida. While this year's Baylor team has already entered new territory by winning 11 games for the first time in the school's history, the Bears could climb even higher in the final polls if they can win the Fiesta Bowl.
This Art Briles team is clearly his best version since he came to the Waco campus seven years ago and led the Bears from the wilderness of being the worst team in the tough Big 12 conference to being the best by winning the conference championship with a dramatic 30-10 win against a good University of Texas team in the final game of Floyd Casey Stadium. That game was Texas Coach Mack Brown's last regular season game as the Longhorn coach.
Motorists driving along I-35 have a view of Baylor's new stadium as it appears to rise from the Brazos River only a few feet from the busy interstate. Briles brilliant coaching played no small part in inspiring Baylor alumni to make huge donations to help fund the scenic stadium which may be reached by either crossing a bridge or by boat along the Brazos.
Reese dislocated his wrist when he fell awkwardly to the field after a play against Oklahoma on Nov. 7. While the Bears were able to finish with a 3-1 record and win the Big 12 championship without him, many wonder if Baylor might be looking at a possible national championship if he had been available for the team's only loss at Stillwater.
Baylor roared to a perfect 7-0 record and was in the national title hunt while Reese was catching 33 passes for 824 yards and eight touchdowns before his injury. He was averaging 103 yards a game before the injury ended the senior's chances of being named first team All-American. He will be playing in the National Football League next year.
While Baylor's offense continued at a record pace without him, the Bears lost their "vertical game" downfield without the speedy Reese who could burn defenses by blowing past defenders for deep passes, according to Baylor alumnus Bob Balch, a Wichita Falls, Tex. attorney.
Reese hopes to practice with the Bears on the Waco campus before they break for Christmas after a workout Sunday. The team will fly to Arizona on Dec. 26 to continued their preparations for the school's first BCS bowl game in history.
While this year's Baylor team is possibly its best ever, legendary Baylor coach John Bridgers led one of his teams to a No. 2 national ranking before it dropped a heartbreaker 7-0 to the University of Texas in the early 1960s. That Bridgers team was led by All-American quarterback Don Trull and wide receiver Lawrence Elkins. Bridgers was offensive co-ordinator for the Johnny Unitas-led Baltimore Colts team which defeated the New York Giants in the NFL championship game in the lates 1950s. That televised overtime game is widely regarded as the most important game in NFL history because it popularized the sport across the nation as it never had been before.
Bridgers later served as athletic director for Florida State University where he hired Bobby Bowden.
The hiring of John Bridgers from the Baltimore Colts was widely considered as one of the best decisions the Baylor athletic department ever made prior to the hiring of Art Briles who is considered an offensive guru in the world of football. He has introduced a new style of offense with receivers frequently scattered from one sideline to the other which forces defensive players to spread out and often opens the way for runs inside the tackles as well as long passes downfield to receivers like Reese, Levi Norwood and Antwan Godley.
Current quarterback Bryce Petty, who was nammed All-Big 12 conference quarterback this year, praised Reese's fast recovery. Petty, who broke his hand earlier in his career, said he was surprised at how fast his speediest receiver was coming back.
Petty finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy voting this year making that award a possibility for him in 2014. Only Robert Griffin III has won that award as a Baylor player. Don Trull had also finished high in the Heisman Trophy voting in the 1960s.
Reese gave God credit, saying, "Time went on, doctors said the X-rays say I'm way ahead of schedule. God put me through something, and he brought me out of it."
Baylor is a Christian university which at one time was believed by many to be too small to compete with larger schools like Texas and Oklahoma in the Big 12. With three victories over UT and two against OU, Briles has proved that belief incorrect.
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