COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The 2017 Baylor recruiting class got off to a impressive start last summer with pledges from ESPN 300 standouts Kellen Mond, Baron Browning, Hezekiah Jones, Jhamon Ausbon and Kedrick James. The star-studded group had a hashtag (#SuperTeam17), a lot of hype and a lot of hope.
But Browning and Ausbon backed out of their pledges this spring, and the rest of the class fell apart following the firing of coach Art Briles in May. Five decommitments later, #SuperTeam17 is down to one verbal pledge: Jalen Pitre.
Pitre, a three-star defensive back from Stafford (Texas) High, is staying loyal to the Bears. The Baylor coaching staff took a chance on him when they accepted his commitment last July. When Pitre suffered a torn ACL last October, they stuck by him. So he’s sticking with them.
We caught up with Pitre on Thursday at the Texas 7-on-7 championships in College Station to discuss his loyalty and his expectations for Baylor’s future.
How does it feel to be the only recruit committed to Baylor right now?
Jalen Pitre: Um, it can be lonely at times. I don’t have any other commits to talk to. But it’s still good. I’m trying to see the big picture of college and trying to go get an education for free. I’m just really blessed to be able to do that.
Have you talked much with the Baylor coaching staff since Briles was let go?
Pitre: I haven’t talked to Coach [Jim] Grobe, but I’ve talked to Coach [Cris] Dishman recently. He just told me to keep working, keep getting my knee stronger and he wants me to make the best decision for my family. I’m trying to head up to one of their practices and want to build up a good relationship with Coach Grobe.
How did you feel when Hezekiah decommited?
Pitre: That was kind of tough, since he’s like my brother. But I can’t knock him for his decision. Everybody is different. I didn’t really think about decommitting. I love Baylor. That’s been one of my favorite schools ever since I was little. When I got the offer, I was so happy. It’s home. It’s meant for me. They showed me they believed in me, so I’m sticking loyal to them and staying with them. I didn’t want to switch on them like that.
How do you assess the situation at Baylor?
Pitre: I just feel like, it’s … it’s not really good. But I really don’t believe some of the stuff that’s been coming out. That’s why I’m really sticking with them and I still believe in them. I just see it as a minor setback to a major comeback. Baylor is so rich in tradition and they have the juice to get the players they need back.
If Baylor hires new coaches this offseason, how would that affect your plans?
Pitre: It would have a big effect, but I think I would still stay. Hopefully the coaches that would come in believe in my skill and stick with me. The staff there told me to keep working and believed I will come back stronger and faster.
Are you proud of the fact that, when everyone else was backing out, you stayed loyal to Baylor?
Pitre: I am proud. I’m firmly committed. I’m trying to be an early enrollee in January and just trying to get to work. I’d be happy to help recruit for this class. My parents have been very supportive about that and told me they’re with me wherever I go. I just felt like the education would be great for me and I can do something good there. I’m going to stick with Baylor. I think it’s my best bet to get in there early and try to work hard and get playing time.