Recruiting Trends: Quarterbacks and Running Backs

The 2009 recruiting class will be the 6th recruiting class where Captain Leach takes just 1 quarterback on scholarship. Thus far, Leach has recruiting Graham Harrell, Chris Todd, Taylor Potts, Stephan Loucks, Seth Doege, and Jacob Karam in successive recruiting classes. Over a year ago I opined that this was a pretty obvious trend with Captain Leach to take at least one quarterback with each recruiting class, and for how Leach runs his system, this works out well.

It got me thinking about the recent running back classes and it occurred to me that Leach has done the same type of thing at running back.

Below is a handy table along with recruit for the particular year and the Rivals.com recruiting stars.

Position
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
Quarterback Graham Harrell
(6'3"/205)
Chris Todd
(6'2"/220)
Taylor Potts
(6'5"/218)
Stefan Loucks
(6'1"/171)
Seth Doege
(6'2"/207)
Jacob Karam
(6'1"/197)
Running Back Shannon Woods
(5'11"/194)
Kobey Lewis
(5'6"/166)
Baron Batch
(5'11"/200)
Aaron Crawford
(5'11"/199)
Harrison Jeffers
(5'9"/210)
Eric Stephens
(5'8"/177)

I should probably note that in 2007 and in 2008 Leach technically recruited 2 running backs. In 2007 Jared Flannel and in 2008 Brandon Reid were each recruited as running backs. This past spring, Jared Flannel was moved to cornerback and just in case you're wondering, he's been an absolute special teams ace this year with 11 special teams tackles. That's good for 17th for the team. Watch out for #34 on special teams, he's usually around the pile more times than not.

Brandon Reid was also recruited at running back, but it was made clear from the beginning that the 6'2"/208 running back would transition to linebacker.

That leaves one quarterback and one running back for each class.

Quarterbacks:

It also got me thinking what is it about each one of these quarterbacks and running backs that Leach makes them "the one" for that recruiting year?

Taylor Potts:
This guy is
the future.

My initial thought is that the quarterback has to make quick decisions and mentally, they have to be able to handle the thought process of reading a defense quickly. In Leach's offense, it's more important to get the ball off quickly to the right receiver then to have a cannon for an arm. This somewhat explains why Leach doesn't necessarily sign "name-brand" quarterbacks. There must be something that he sees with each one of these guys that makes him think that they have both the size, relative arm strength and mental make-up to be a quarterback for Captain Leach. The exception here of course is Potts, who doesn't fit that mold at all. He is the strong-armed quarterback who has typically held onto the ball a little long, at least in spring games and mop-up duty the past two years, sans last week against OSU.

But the other guys seems to fit that mold in every way. Again, it's not necessarily about physical measurables with Leach, but I think it's about decision making skills. And this in itself is interesting to me because I think Leach does an excellent job of upgrading talent all over the field, but seems content with finding that one guy at quarterback, ratings and 40-yard times be damned.

Aaron Crawford:
Only has 2
carries this year,
but watch out
for next year.

Running Backs:

With the running backs, it's a little more difficult for me to figure out just one theory. I would imagine that each of these guys need to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield, but I seem to recall that Aaron Crawford had quite a bit of catching up to do last year in that department. There's really not a real rhyme or reasons as to the actual size of the running back, although I think it's important to note that Woods, Batch and Crawford are not smurf-like running backs, which is probably not in line with many peoples' stereotypes about Texas Tech running backs. Jeffers is also a decent size, but obviously Lewis and Stephens are on the small side.

Although I don't believe it's always about how big or strong a quarterback is for Leach, I think that he's more than happy to recruit the more physically talented and highly rated running backs. That's certainly a trend that I can handle.

Thoughts:

Of course the upside to this type of recruiting is that there's continuity if there's an injury.  If one guy gets hurt then there's someone there who has experience to hopefully continue in place of the starter.  The downside is that with all of these talented players there's quite a bit more competition and guys are only likely to play one year, two years at the most.  However, Leach has shown that he's more than happy to play two running backs and he prefers experienced quarterbacks (see Cumbie, Hodges, and Symons) even if they only play for one year.

I'd love to hear your theories, and as a bonus, vote on which quarterback and running back tandem you think will have the most success at Texas Tech.

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