With the departure of star players such as Jace Amaro, Kerry Hyder, Will Smith, and Eric Ward, Texas Tech football needs to develop its young talent. Fortunately, Tech has some promising young talent that could help Coach Kliff Kingbury build on the momentum from last season’s upset Holiday Bowl victory over Arizona State. Here’s a look at how the top three positional battles are shaping up:
Number One – Wide Receiver
Texas Tech’s receiving corps took a huge blow when it lost two of the leading receivers in school history, Jace Amaro and Eric Ward. The two accounted for 57 touchdowns combined during their college careers. Kingsbury is looking for a third and fourth receiver to step up and help fill the void, and Jakeem Grant and Bradley Marquez emerged from spring training as the top targets for quarterback Davis Webb. Both had touchdown catches in the spring scrimmage. The battle for the third and fourth spot involve the promising Reginald Davis, track star Derrick Edwards and the hyped junior college transfer Devin Lauderdale. Davis gained notoriety last year when he returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the Holiday Bowl. He’s worked with the first team throughout the spring and should be a lock for the number three spot. Edwards has great speed and height, as he showed in the spring game with a catch and sprint down the sideline for a touchdown (although it was called back). His competition, Lauderdale, had a costly fumble returned for a touchdown by the defense in the same game. Edwards has the edge for the fourth position, while Lauderdale may become more of a return specialist.
Number Two – Running Back
The running back spot remains up for grabs. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury has already declared Kenny Williams will return as the starting tailback, but with Williams’ newly acquired defensive role, Deandre Washington ended up taking all the starting snaps in the spring game. Williams has been labeled as a top contender for the starting position at outside linebacker. With Tech’s excruciatingly up-tempo offense, the likelihood that Williams could play both ways in the Big 12 conference seems slim. Washington showed his play-making ability this spring as the starting running back. If Williams gains a larger role on defense, look for Washington to emerge as the eventual starting back, despite Kingsbury’s comments.
Number Three – Corner Back
For years Tech has been looking for a lock-down corner to step forward as the leader of the secondary. Now, the coaching staff hopes incoming signee Nigel Bethel II can be that guy. In high school Bethel made a name for himself as one of the best corners in the state of Florida. He was a surprise commitment for Tech amid speculation he would accept a scholarship offer from Miami. Now that Tech has him, he could be an immediate starter for the Red Raiders. He will compete with the likes of Jeremy Reynolds and Tyler Middleton for the second starting corner position behind Justis Nelson. Nelson showed he could be a starting shut-down corner for the Red Raiders, coming on strong in the second halt of the season. He had interceptions against both Baylor and Arizona State.