WACO, Texas -- As you exit I-35 and head toward Baylor University, the first thing you see as you pass by is a small, quaint little cemetery off to the side of the road. For years - decades, really - it was a fitting sight for a football program that until last year had an overall record five games under .500. If anything was representative of how the Bears were viewed by those outside Waco, the darkened tombstones across from campus were an apt metaphor.

Continue a little further down University Parks Drive however, and Baylor of the present comes into view. The Simpson Center's white columns and stoic facade are the entrance to one of the nicest facilities in the country. Next door is the Allison Indoor Practice Facility, built along the banks of the Brazos River and providing plenty of air-conditioned refuge for players on a hot or rainy day. If you're looking for the program's future, you merely have to check out the renderings for the proposed on-campus stadium. No doubt the statue out front is of the school's first and only Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III as it is the house that he built.
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Baylor has never been in this position, never had to deal with these expectations, never had to worry about what's next. As Griffin threw in front of nearly 200 credentialed media and NFL personnel, you understood that this wasn't RG3's last time to throw the football around on campus but an act in a carefully orchestrated play.

"I think all you have to do is look around. NFL Network, ESPN, all the major brands out here and all you're going to see is Baylor all over the screen the next few days," head coach Art Briles said. "That's insurmountable because we've never had this kind of exposure. I proud for our players and our university."

The details reflected as much. There was a specially designed Pro Day logo for the festivities Wednesday afternoon. Parking was so limited that the school setup a shuttle service. There was food for the swarms of media and former players in for the event and boosters sat on metal stands that were brought in for the event. Two networks televised the workout.

Baylor's only exposure used to be the 30-second commercial on the school during football games, now it had a three-hour infomercial on turning recruits into draft picks.

"It's a great day for Baylor, it's a great day for me personally," Briles said. "Honestly this is the way it should be, it's something our football program has earned. When you go out and accomplish things like our guys have on the field, and you have the talent that we have stored at Baylor right now, these kinds of things happen."

Briles displayed the look of a proud father, discussing things with Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith, patting Washington's Mike Shanahan on the back and letting loose a fist pump on a particularly good Griffin throw. The head coach was not concerned with saying goodbye to the best player in school history, he was celebrating what they did together. Behind the podium, Griffin grinned when talking about how far he's come.

"Just a few weeks ago it seems like I was a freshman, 198 pounds. Now I'm at my Pro Day, getting ready to go to the NFL," he said. "When I got here, the fans expected us to win. We had two seasons that weren't conducive to doing that but we turned it around.

"For us to watch it grow, you can't put that into words. New facilities, new jerseys every couple of years, it's been amazing to win 10 games and get a Heisman and win a bowl game."

Just a few hours after watching his star pupil make Indianapolis' decision regarding the first pick in the NFL Draft that much harder, Briles was outside on the practice fields yelling to get his point across to the next wave of players that will continue this renaissance on the Brazos. While the football team practiced, both the men's and women's basketball teams were preparing to fly out to their respective Sweet 16 match ups.

Across the state, there has never been a better time to wear the green and gold.

"It's up to us. The great thing about momentum is when you've got it, you have to run with it," said Briles. "We've got momentum as a university and our national brand is as good as it has ever been. What we have to do and what my job is, is we he have to maintain it. I've got to keep it going and understand that we have to continue to climb.

"I hope we find out next February. This is a big time deal and in our business, recruiting, that's what it's all about.  We're on the 2013 class right now and if I were a high school junior, I'd be saying hey, I'd love to go to Baylor and get some of that."

A coach cannot simply replace a once-in-a-generation talent like Griffin but there's no question that the Bears have plenty to work with.

The school signed a very highly regarded recruiting class last month and hosted several of the state's top juniors on Wednesday. Nick Florence will be tasked with replacing RG3 at quarterback but impressed filling in last season against Texas Tech and in nine games in 2009. Most of the defense and three receivers return along with Oregon running back transfer Lache Seastrunk becoming eligible next year.

It's taken time, a special player and a few lucky bounces but Briles has the Bears right where he wants them.

"Whenever you take a job you say let's get good right now," he added. "That's what our mission is."

Only time will tell but for now, the future is bright.