In our effort to provide a solid conference recap I reached out to my
Techspert, dedfischer. Though a seldom commenter and reader of Inside Texas, as
the husband of a Texas grad, ded has excellent knowledge of Texas football. I
solicited his thoughts on Texas Tech and he provided the goods, plus some good
insight into conference recruiting on the whole. Dedfischer is in tight with
the Tech staff and is a guest writer for the Red Raiders Rivals site. Thanks,
While overall this certainly wasn't the Red Raiders highest ranking class, Kliff Kingsbury and staff did an excellent job of filling need positions with solid Big 12 prospects. They also managed to hang onto elite QB prospect Davis Webb. On the something to be desired scale, they failed to land any DT players to round out an otherwise solid and well-scouted class.
1. WR - Tech
landed the top WR class in the conference, largely due to scale. Devin Lauderdale, Gary Moore and Dylan
Cantrell offer a variety of skill sets and rank as some of the top players at
their respective position in the state.
Georgia signee D.J. Polite-Bray comes with an interesting offer list
that includes Tennessee and Ole Miss, but chose some bizarre visits (Utah and
Middle Tenn. St?) that seem to suggest a coaching staff change for the Vols and
an Ole Miss class that filled up might have eliminated those options. Or, possibly a transcript, but allegedly his
grades are in order. Regardless, he's
got elite speed and a guy the Tech coaching staff chose him over Hunter
Jarmon. Manvel's Carlos Thompson was
also an intriguing take in that Tech had several more coveted options knocking
at the door. However, this was a
Kingsbury personal demand and Thompson put up some of the most eye-popping
stats in the country (67 catches, 1,427 yards, 21 TDs) on his way to district
offensive MVP. He'll be a good test case
to follow in Kingsbury's ability to evaluate talent.
2. QB - Elite 11
standout Davis Webb stuck with Tech through the coaching change to his
benefit. I've seen several of the
state's top rated QBs this year in person and Webb can spin it with any of
them, except he's four inches taller than everyone sans Cody Thomas. I agree with Trent Dilfer: Webb is a watch
list NFL passer down the road. He'll
follow up a series of wow throws with some questionable decision-making, so his
development will be a matter of the game slowing down for him.
3. OL - Behind an
outstanding Longhorn class highlighted by OT Kent Perkins and C Darius James,
the Red Raiders ranked firmly in second place on the conference scale. Baylen Brown is capable of throwing his hat
in the conversation for the top guard prospect in Texas, while Georgia's Josh
Outlaw pretty much had his pick of schools.
Together, they give Tech two elite interior OL players. The camp system also found one of the most
underrated players in the state in Cody Hayes.
The Red Raiders had to fight off a late push by OU, TCU and Arizona
State, but were able to maintain his loyalty.
I had the chance to see Hayes at a Lancaster summer camp and he was the
top performer overall I've seen in two years of attending. Extremely athletic, strong, physical and a
work ethic that exceeded four star prospects with double digit offer
lists. Tech did a good job of keeping
Hayes under wraps. This dude has a
toolbox full of everything you need and I'm penciling him in as a three to four
year starter after a redshirt season. I'm
not exactly sure on the recruitment details of Michigan's Poet Thomas. At one time, he held offers from Florida,
Kansas, Colorado and SMU. His finalists
were Tech and Arkansas Pine-Bluff, which screams of a grade risk. Thomas is obviously a nice physical talent,
but I'll be curious if he makes it to campus.
Tech backed off of Maurice Porter because of grades, so Thomas must be
closer than that. Aaron Bennett was a
JUCO take out of left field, so I don't really have any info on him.
4. DB - This was
a dire situation for Tech and success is graded by the numbers game. Luckily, Kingsbury arrived in a somewhat deep
year for talent, but on the conference scale, everyone signed a great class and
this unit certainly ranks in the bottom half of the league. Elite, ready-made DBs haven't looked Tech's
direction in years, so evaluation will be critical here. Former secondary coach John Lovett did the
right thing by attracting athletes playing other positions to summer camps and
offering them based on performance, size and speed. Munday's Dee Paul is the most celebrated and
he's exactly the type of guy Kingsbury will need to win over going
forward. Paul is also jumping up from 1A
ball, so I doubt he's ready to compete. I'm
a bit more intrigued by a silky-smooth receiver/defensive back from the
Rockwall camp, who posted a sub-4.5 that day.
Justis Nelson earned his chops in the Mesquite Fiji League, but if his
good speed and 6-2 frame can successfully transition to FBS cornerback, he'll
pass the eyeball test, which is more than I can say for the existing roster. Tech desperately needs Big 12 caliber
cornerbacks on the roster as they've never filled the vacancy left by Jamar
Wall. It's been seven years since Tech
signed Wall. They haven't come close to landing
another legit CB prospect (sans Will Ford) over that time primarily due to bad
evaluations under Leach and a revolving door of coaches under Tuberville. Paul and Nelson end that streak with good
Caleb Woodward, from Blake Gideon’s alma mater, was another summer
camp offer at safety. Woodward put up big rushing numbers as a QB last
fall. No idea what kind of safety he'll
make, but at least he won't be doubling as a field-turf gnome during warmups at
6-1, 190 pounds. Surely someone has seen
him play in the Austin area. I'm not
sure about his speed.
Considering Iowa State's secondary personnel would have
started at Tech for the last three years, it was probably a good idea to steal
Paul Rhodes best Texas DB commit. Jalen
Barnes of PA Memorial was that guy and an Oklahoma State offer seems to support
Rhodes' evaluation. Tech finished off
the defensive back position with two JUCOs, Dorian Crawford and Martin Hill,
that are capable of playing either safety or corner. I don't have any insight on the quality of
prospects they are, other than a little film.
If they can form tackle, break the 4.7 barrier and display any semblance
of discipline, they will start immediately.
Tech had to sign a big class and, if they can land two solid starters out
of six prospects, then progress has been made.
Batting .333 on the recruiting is all it takes to compete and win in this
league, so I'll keep my fingers crossed.
5. OLB - With the
transition to a 3-4, the pass rushing targets have transformed a bit and Tech
went to the Georgia well again. I'm a big
fan of what Zach Barnes (6-4, 230 pounds, offers from Tenn, BYU, Indiana, Cincy)
brings to the table from an edge rusher perspective. Barnes is a really agile athlete, who closes
well in space. Jacarthy Mack's offer
list would suggest he's the more highly coveted prospect with offers from South
Carolina, Kansas State and Louisville.
His film wasn't as impressive to me, but at 6-3, 205 pounds, I'm
guessing Tech's 3-4 will be adapted more in the form of SMU under Tom Mason and
A&M under Tim DeRuyter than it will the San Francisco 49ers. It's tough to say where this group places on
the league grading system as all the other programs are recruiting pass rushers
for an even front. On paper, OU, OSU and
KSU mopped the floor with the rest of the league at said position and I would
say they did Tech as well.
6. ILB - The only position more atrocious
than Tech's cornerback recruiting over the last 7 years is the inside
linebacker position. Bront Bird and Brian Duncan seem like a mirage now. New DC Matt Wallerstedt took the job in a
good year to solve that issue. I'm
fairly confident this is the best LB class the state of Texas has produced in
the last five years, if not decade.
While Kahlee Woods and Malik Jenkins don't rank in the 2013 elite
category, they are an upgrade for Tech's situation. Neither is fast by clock standards, but
that's the only quality keeping them from elite. Players with an appropriate combination of
size, physicality and intelligence will have a chance to be a four year starter
at MLB. Woods isn't the top overall LB
prospect in the state, but he is the best player at stuffing the run between
the tackles. This quality will get him
on the field early for the Red Raiders.
Woods is 20 pounds heavier than Tech's best option, more physical and
has received better coaching in high school than what the Big 12 has recently
been offering. Jenkins was a dominant
force on a loaded Ennis defense and has the frame that could eventually send
him to OLB. For conference rankings,
this is a middle of the pack group and should probably rank above the DBs were
it not for the numbers difference.
Shockingly, West Virginia and Baylor found themselves atop the LB class
in the Big 12. I would flip a coin between
OU and OSU for dead last, but I assume the need wasn't critical with only one
prospect classes. Welcome to the era of
7. DT/DE - Tech
only signed one JUCO prospect named Demetrius Alston, who will play as a 3-4
end. Without even checking, I'll rank
this as the bottom of the barrel in the Big 12.
It's not a dire situation at this point, but Kingsbury will have to
over-compensate in the 2014 class. Tech
is still in the mix for late bloomer DeQuinton Osborne, which would help.
[Editor’s note: Nope, ded, Demetrius Alston single handedly
defeats Texas’ defensive line class. What an animal! Thanks for the
contribution, my friend.]