When Tara High School offensive guard Prince Pines signs a scholarship Wednesday with Baylor University, he can reflect back fondly four years ago to when it all began.
Three games into his varsity football career, while still a freshman at University High, Pines was shifted from the defensive line to offensive guard, where he became a starter on the Cubs’ Division II state championship team.
“I didn’t know much about the O-Line,” Pines said. “I was able to compete with high-level players when I made the move. It made my passion stronger for football. I appreciated being given a chance to play early on. I knew what position I liked to play in the future.”
The 6-foot-5, 327-pound Pines distinguished himself as one of the state’s top offensive linemen, earning first-team Class 3A All-State acclaim in 2016 before transferring to Tara for his senior year.
Pines, a three-star recruit and the nation’s No. 45 guard prospect according to 247 Sports, verbally committed to Baylor on Friday — the day after Bears head coach Matt Rhule and five other assistants came for an in-home visit.
“It was amazing to feel that somebody really wants you in their program,” said Pines, who also considered TCU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, SMU, Missouri and Texas Tech. “He had to put the phone down, came back and put me on the phone with all of the coaches.”
Pines began his an association with Baylor this summer, attending the Bears' summer camp, where he earned a scholarship offer — one of 18 he received.
Baylor recruited Pines throughout his senior season, eventually setting up an official visit to the Waco, Texas, campus on Dec. 8.
Pines credited Baylor redshirt freshman defensive end Justin Harris of East Ascension for serving as one of his hosts for the weekend and providing necessary insight into the program.
Pines said his final decision, which he made with his family, was also based on the direction of a family-based program clouded by past scandal.
Rhule helped build Temple into a winner — 20-7 and consecutive bowl appearances his final two years — and has Baylor’s current recruiting class ranked 26th nationally and fifth in the Big 12.
“I believe my class can come in with the people coming back and really make a difference and bring Baylor back to its glory days,” Pines said. “It’s what football’s about. Getting up when somebody knocks you down. I can’t wait to go and compete.”
Broncos pick schools
Two members of the Zachary’s Class 5A state champions made commitments, with defensive tackle Ke’Shawn Sullivan selecting Army and place-kicker Martell Fontenot opting for Southern.
Sullivan, a 4.0 student, had 57 tackles and 7 sacks as a senior. Fontenot received his offer from the Jaguars the week before the Broncos defeated West Monroe in the semifinals.
“I made the decision a long time ago; I was waiting on my parents,” Sullivan said. “I was trying to tell them why, trying to get them to support it, and they have. So I decided to commit.”
Advocate freelance writer Charles Salzer contributed to this story.