Red vs. Black, Spring Position Battles:  Receiver

A position-by-position look at the Texas Tech Red Raiders heading into spring practice. "Classifications" are based on entering school next fall. "Probable Roles" are merely guesses and welcome comments, thoughts and suggestions.

RECEIVER

X

Edward
Britton

Rashad
Hawk

Aaron
Fisher

Derrick
Mays

Height: 6-1 6-4 6-3 6-1
Weight: 174 183 175 170
Classification: Senior Sophomore Freshman Freshman
Probable Role: Starter Second String Probable Redshirt Definite Redshirt

I'm a little curious as to exactly how this is going to work, on all four positions. In any event, I think this is Britton's spot without a doubt. Britton does a great job of stretching the field and there were games where he simply disappeared and he cannot afford to do that without a Michael Crabtree complimenting him on the other side. I would really like to see him work on his mid-range game.

I love Hawk's natural ability and this is the perfect position for him, especially with his height and general athletic ability. Hawk needs to make a name for himself this year, he needs to assert himself.

Maybe it's just me, but I see Fisher as being a guy that has the game of an inside receiver, but the body of an outside receiver. I know that I have him outside for now, but I could envision where he moves inside at some point in his career and Ward moves outside (more on him later). I know that suggesting Fisher goes inside and Ward moves outside goes against conventional thinking, thus far, but Leach & Co. generally put the guys on the field where they feel like will perform best and I just see Fisher being a great inside receiver target.

Mays is a burner in the mold of Edward Britton. I have no doubt that Mays will sit this year out, but he has the potential to step into this role in due time.

H

Eric
Ward

Cornelius
Douglas

Adam
James

Adrian
Reese

Height: 5-11 5-9 6-3 6-7
Weight: 190 190 217 207
Classification: Freshman RS Freshman Sophomore Senior
Probable Role: Battling to Start Battling to Start First Tight End Second Tight End

Part of me thinks that there's no way that Ward starts, especially as a true freshman, but Ward is talented enough to do so. So, right now, I have Ward as a slot receiver, but traditionally, Texas Tech's most talented receiver plays the "X" position, and I think that Ward grows into that role in due time. When we learned that Crabtree was a little over 6-0, I started thinking that Ward's dimensions are similar and although I can't verify that Ward's 40-time is actually 4.4, that is a bit better than Crabtree's listed 40-time of 4.5. We're all expecting that Ward stays inside, but is it possible that to truly utilize his speed, he needs to be on the outside? In any event, Ward is an incredible talent and it would not surprise me to see him on the field immediately.

Douglas is an interesting guy. He played quarterback, cornerback and returned punts for his high school squad. No one really knows that Douglas can do, other than those who have watched Thursday night practices. The biggest question mark is if Douglas is ready to produce as a starter after only one year at the position (sound familiar?). If there is one thing that we know, it's that he's a football player, and he makes plays. Guys like that get on the field.

I've lumped James and Reese here together. Initially I had James starting and was talked out of it, although I think that part of Leach would like to see what happens if he had a blocking tight end starting at the slot receiver. Would this open up some running lanes, create some mis-matches on the field with James probably going up against a smaller defensive back? I may be alone on this, but I think it's a possibility. It's been a long time since Reese caught a pass and I wonder if he's physically big enough to play the tight end position. Hopefully, he's gained some weight, and if he's at all competent catching the ball, he could be a tremendous red-zone target.

Y

Detron
Lewis

Jacoby
Franks

Austin
Zouzalik

Landon
Hoefer

Height: 6-0 6-1 6-1 6-1
Weight: 209 194 181 200
Classification: Junior Sophomore RS Freshman Senior
Probable Role: Starter Battling for Second String Battling for Second String Fourth String

This is another position, where I think I'm going against conventional wisdom after Lewis. There's no doubt that Lewis starts and he's projected to be the star of the receiving corp. He has the most returning catches and yards of the returning receivers, but only managed 3 touchdowns this past year. Lewis has to focus on figuring out how to get in the endzone because 3 touchdowns just isn't going to do the trick. There's no reason why Lewis can't improve those numbers and a big reason why they were so low was because Crabtree was simply gifted at getting in the endzone.

I think most folks have Franks as an outside guy, but he's got similar size to Lewis, and is actually a bit faster than Lewis. I could see Franks moving inside just to take advantage of a relative lack of experienced depth at both inside receiver spots, especially if it takes Ward a little longer to adjust to the college game. Franks is someone to watch this spring, without a doubt.

Zouzalik is another former quarterback turned slot receiver. Supposedly, Zouzalik may be the fastest guy on the team (electronically timed at 4.38) and if Leach was looking to really run the wildcat formation with a legitimate passing threat (2,908 yards passing his senior year) and running threat (971 yards rushing his senior year), then Zouzalik is your guy. Much like Douglas, Zouzalik is a playmaker and it would not surprise me to see him on the field in some capacity this year, whether it be in punt or kickoff coverage, returning punts or kickoffs, or catching passes.

Honestly, I don't know much about Hoefer and if he played it would be generally in mop-up duty.

Z

Lyle
Leong

Tramain
Swindall

Rashad
Hawk

Eric
Ward

Height: 6-1 6-3 6-4 5-11
Weight: 165 175 183 190
Classification: Junior Sophomore Sophomore Freshman
Probable Role: Probable Starter Battling for Second String Battling for Second String A Possibility

Keep in mind that Leong and Potts were high school teammates and Leong's best attribute is that he catches everything, a trait that I'm sure Potts and every other quarterback is well aware. Also a tremendous high-jumper, Leong has the ability to go get passes and this is another attribute that will come in handy for a first-year quarterback. Leong doesn't have break-away speed and I believe that there was a time during 2008 that Leach pushed him back to the scout team, so putting Leong first isn't an absolute, although he may have the most talent of the candidates.

Swindall is similar to Leong in that he doesn't have the speed of Crabtree, but at 6-3, he should be a guy that excels at the outside receiver position. Coming out of high school, Swindall needed to add quite a bit of weight, but he's a guy that should excel out the outside simply because he should normally have a distinct size advantage over his opponent.

I've got Hawk backing up on both outside positions and think that the staff will decide on one position or another, but for now, I could see where he might play both at first.

This is a contingency plan, although I realize that there's quite a few players who are capable of playing outside and putting Ward here may be a bit redundant. My general thought is that if Ward is your best playmaker, and by all accounts, he is the highest rated player at receiver, and the X receiver is traditionally your best playmaker, then perhaps this is the position that he should play.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There's probably quite a few arguments about where a player should be slotted and we'll more than likely have quite a few answers after spring practice is completed. There's a ton of athleticism at the receiver position, perhaps more than any other time that I can remember at Texas Tech.

Thanks to kayakyakr for helping out.

Previous Battles: Quarterback :: Running Back ::

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