Baylor Football students, alumni, and fans are still being rewarded by witnessing an impressive off season coming off of their most spectacular season where they secured a program-high 12 wins, recorded their first-ever Big 12 Championship title game victory, had first and only New Years 6 bowl win in the CFP era, and notched 5 wins over Top 25 opponents for their most top-25 wins in a season since at least 1974! The Bears made headlines when head coach Dave Aranda announced backup QB Blake Shapen would replace former starter Gerry Bohanon early into the spring (Bohanon almost immediately transferred to South Florida following the news) and have continued their news-worthy cycle with an ongoing collection of recruits committing to playing for Aranda and co. in the next couple of years. Shortly after five current Bears were named to the 2022 Preseason All-Big 12 Team (far more than last year’s two choices), two of the five—C Jacob Gall and TE Ben Sims earned Rimington and John Mackey watch list honors. Even more Bears were added to watch lists with DL Siaki Ika and LB Dillon Doyle making the Nagurski list while Ika, OL Connor Galvin, and Gall were named to the Outland one a few days later. Sims increased his watch list credentials by being named to the Wuerffel trophy list released by the All Sports Association. Now, Ika and Galvin were named to the Chuck Bednarik and Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List by the Maxwell Football Club and Rotary Club of Houston, respectively.
Ika—a Baylor favorite—dealt blows to O-lines across the Big 12 despite being double-covered in every game. In his first year with the Bears (he was previously an LSU Tiger), Ika recorded 25 tackles with 6.5 for a loss of 36 yards, 4.5 sacks for a loss of 30 yards, 4 QB hurries, and 1 pass deflected, earning him the 2021 Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year title. Being named to the Outland, Nagurski, and Bednarik watch lists is a huge feat. According to Baylor Athletics’ Jerry Hill (papa), “The Chuck Bednarik Award has been presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year since 1995.” Galvin was one of the main reasons why Baylor’s OL was a top-10 corps in the country allowing only 18 sacks on the season (let it be known that Baylor’s OL was never a shining star until OL coach Eric Mateos arrived on scene). His nomination to the Lombardi watch list along with his Outland designation offers him the honor of “college football offensive or defensive lineman, who in addition to outstanding performance and ability, best exemplifies the character and discipline of NFL Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi,” according to Hill.