For tight ends coach Tom Osborne, recruiting good tight ends to Oregon is becoming an increasingly easier job. With four tight ends on current NFL rosters (Dante Rosario, Brandon Williams, Ed Dickson, David Paulson) and Oregon’s recent history of success, the Ducks are a premier destination for elite high school players at the position. No position group on Oregon’s roster has more talented depth. Even if Colt Lyerla leaves after this next season to enter the 2014 NFL draft, the Ducks are in good hands with a guy like Evan Baylis waiting in the wings.
Baylis is a 6-foot-6 244-pound product of Grandview High School in Aurora, Colo. A member of the 2012 recruiting class, Baylis garnered a 4-star ranking from Scout, Rivals, 247Sports and ESPN. Although Baylis ultimately signed with Oregon, he had received offers from Stanford, UCLA, Michigan, Arizona and Boise State among others. He was widely regarded as one of the top 10 tight ends in his class.
Baylis’ high school film is impressive. While recruited as a tight end, his defensive film leaves little doubt that he could be an effective BCS-level linebacker. On the offensive side of things Baylis comes across as a prospect with great size and speed. He’s a natural pass-catcher with good, soft hands. Baylis’ size makes him a red-zone weapon and he’s a good intermediate route-runner. He doesn’t have much wiggle; won’t be making Division I defenders miss in the open field. It’s hard to tell what kind of blocker he is, but based on his defensive film, Baylis certainly shows the nastiness and physicality to be effective in this area. At the college level his success will depend on an ability to get stronger and become an effective blocker; there’s little reason to believe these things won’t happen.
Enrolling early, Baylis was able to get a head-start and participate in Spring Practice last year. He wasn’t able to beat out Pharaoh Brown for the backup tight end spot, but a redshirt season likely helped him learn the offense and physically mature. In 2013 Baylis will have a tough time earning minutes with Lyerla and Brown ahead of him on the depth chart, but there are some reasons for optimism. By all accounts Lyerla, barring injury, is going to enter the 2014 NFL Draft. With Colt’s departure, Baylis should have a great opportunity to earn playing time, especially considering that fellow tight ends Koa Ka’ai and T.J. Daniel may ultimately end up on the defensive side of the ball.
If all else fails, Baylis could always move to inside linebacker, which he appears to have the skill-set to play. As evidenced on his defensive film, he takes great angles and plays downhill with an exciting violence to his game. That said, a switch to defense doesn’t seem likely. Baylis was brought in as a tight end and although immediate playing time might not be in the cards, he’s only one injury away from getting a chance. Additionally, he’ll have a great opportunity to play in 2014 as a redshirt sophomore.
This next season Baylis should focus on continuing to develop physically and learn the playbook inside and out. Depending on what happens with Ka’ai and Daniel, Baylis could end up as the third string tight end. Come 2014, expect him to compete with incoming freshman Johnny Mundt for a spot in the two-deep. Baylis might be an unknown commodity, but he’s a talented prospect with the potential to be a difference-maker at Oregon down the road.
Featured image at top of page – courtesy Kevin Cline
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