WACO, Texas — Dave Aranda has been doing his best to come to grips with the new normal in this country.
"We don't really have a playbook for something like this happening," Aranda said.
Instead of roaming the practice field, the Baylor first-year head coach will be working on his cell phone and laptop until further notice.
"I'm working through our roster, calling about 15 or so guys a day and spending time with them," said Aranda. "I'm getting to know their families and getting to know their daily routine."
Aranda was brought in to lead the program in mid-January after Matt Rhule left to become head coach of the Carolina Panthers. The 43-year-old spent the last four seasons at LSU, where he helped lead the Tigers to a College Football Playoff National Championship.
Without spring football, programs all across the country are forced to get creative. Like many schools, Baylor is relying on zoom for daily meetings.
"We get on that 'Zoom' call and see all of their faces and everyone lights up," Aranda said. "It gives us some kind of normalcy to all of it. I know we get along good and I know they enjoy the time with the players and connecting with them."
One challenge Aranda will face when the season kicks off in September is finding replacements for Denzel Mims, James Lynch and Grayland Arnold. Mims graduated while Lynch and Arnold bypassed their senior seasons to enter the NFL Draft.
Since playing in the Sugar Bowl, Mims has caught the eye of NFL scouts. He shot up the draft board after a terrific Senior Bowl.
Mims then had a spectacular NFL combine where his numbers were in the elite category for wide receivers.
"What you want to do is nail the process," ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. "Have the great year, all-star game, combine and if it all comes together positively, you are going to soar up the board and Mims did that."
In his latest mock draft, Kiper Jr. had the Minnesota Vikings selecting Mims at No. 22 in the first round to help replace Stefon Diggs, who was recently traded to the Bills. Mims didn’t appear in either of Kiper’s first two mocks.
"I think Mims and Jefferson along with Higgins are all vying for that fourth receiver off the board spot," says Kiper. "That is going to determine the team you go to so it is a great spot for Mims since he could go anywhere from 19 to 25"
James Lynch had a massive junior season, recording 19.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and five passes defended to earn unanimous All-American honors and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Kiper Jr. says he has a fourth round grade on Lynch and looks for him to get drafted early on day three.
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