Monday, December 29th, 2014

'Great News', Hospital Visit Punctuate Baylor's Day

Photo By: Photo by Ian Halperin, CBAA

Baylor remained squarely focused on Michigan State on Monday but didn’t mind getting good news for the 2015 season, too.

All-Big 12 defensive end Shawn Oakman announced that he would return for his senior season during a morning news conference for the 79th Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.

“I would classify it as great news,” Bears Head Coach Art Briles said. “Any time you have two guys the caliber of Oakman and Spencer Drango come back and help maintain your program and escalate it, hopefully, to even higher levels, because we still have some mountains to climb, it certainly gives us a better opportunity [to compete for a national championship] when you come out of the gates with guys that have been there.”

Drango, who is Baylor’s junior left tackle, made nine first-team All-American teams.

Oakman said he decided to return to achieve more with his team and individually. He was projected to be a top 15 pick if he had declared for the 2015 NFL draft.

“I can be number one,” Oakman said. “That’s the way I see it. To me, I haven’t done anything spectacular. I just know that my work ethic and my potential is so much higher and the things I’m going to do with this off-season could just catapult me to number one. Why not stay?”

No. 5 Baylor (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) completed its third practice at AT&T Stadium in preparation for Thursday’s game against No. 8 Michigan State (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten).

“I kind of figured Day 3 would be a little bit of ‘Hey, let’s hurry up and get to the game,’-type day and that’s what it was,” Briles said. “We fought through it. Our guys are staying focused.”

Baylor spent part of the afternoon visiting young patients at Texas Children’s Hospital in Dallas. Briles said he wanted his players to “hopefully brighten their day and to make us understand how fortunate and blessed we are.”

The Goodyear Cotton Bowl celebrates its 79th edition on New Year's Day and kicks off a new era as a member of the College Football Playoff. Airtime on ESPN is set for 11:30 a.m. CST with kickoff slated for 11:45 a.m. For the first year, the Classic joins ESPN’s bowl lineup with Dave Pasch and Brian Griese on the call from the booth with Tom Luginbill reporting from the sideline.

For the third consecutive year, ESPN Radio returns as the Classic's national radio partner. Brad Sham, the "Voice of the Dallas Cowboys," teams with Kelly Stoufer in the booth and Ian Fitzsimmons from the sideline to describe all the action from AT&T Stadium. This will be Sham's 18th straight year as the Classic's play-by-play man and his 22nd overall.

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