Red Raider Gridiron | Kennard Signs, Impact of JUCO Receivers and Welker is Part Genius

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DTN College Football Bowl Pick'Em:  For those of you who would like to whip my rear in picking games, feel free to join the DTN College Football Pick'Em at Yahoo.  The Group ID # is 30161 and the password is "redraiders".  Very original, I know.

Post-Practice Presser:  Head coach Tommy Tuberville held a post-practice press conference last night and here's my non-transcript, which is totally aweomer than anything you'll see today, and the reporter questions are in all-caps because I love yelling at you:

Tommy Tuberville | Good to get back out, last day of classes.  Think we did pretty good.  We've worked hard this semester to get guys on track, hopefully they'll finish strong on their finals.  New signee today, Marcus (Kennard) is a good player, have to replace two senior wide receivers.  Think he will fit in great.  Will also have some high school players in as well.  Proud of the coaches and players and the players have to be the salesman and they have to let the recruits know what it's going to be like at Texas Tech.  First practice this week, will have two more.  Will be a little cooler.  Started game-planning.  Watched a lot of film of Northwestern.  Put a lot of the game-plan in.
WHEN WILL THE FIRST PRACTICE AFTER THE HOLIDAY BE?  First practice will be the 26th, day after Christmas.  Going in a day early.  Maybe just a walk-through.  When you throw the ball, you can sometimes loses timing. 
IS THERE A SET FORMULA FOR PRACTICES AFTER THE BREAK?  Practice in the morning so the players can get used to getting up early since they'll have a lot of activities in the afternoon.  Have the players get up early, eat breakfast, lift weights and workout.  Will be doing quite a bit between 6:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.  
WHY DID YOU RECRUIT A JUNIOR COLLEGE RECEIVER?  Been thinking about it all year and would not have taken one if we didn't think he could play.  Is a good jumper, 38" vertical and a 6'8" high jumper.  Got very good speed.  JUCO team didn't throw much.  He liked it here.  His parents spent time here in the past.  Has some height, similar to Darrin Moore, but more speed. 
HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO LOOK AT NORTHWESTERN?  Northwestern is a spread team that likes to run the ball.  Have had tough luck with their quarterbacks and are probably excited about having QB get some extra time.  They play hard and they play fast.  They execute well.  They have a RB that runs well inside and outside.  Defensively, they have a LB that's a little beat up, but runs sideline to sideline.  Run a lot of multiple fronts. 
TALK A BIT ABOUT THEIR BACKUP QUARTERBACK?  The backup played a game and a half, they're excited about doing more with him.

Kennard Signs:  The big news yesterday, hat-tip to TallMike's FanPost, is that Butler County C.C. receiver Marcus Kennard (DTN profile) signed his letter of intent yesterday.  Texas Tech even had an official press release with Tuberville talking a bit about the type of player that Kennard is:

"We are pleased to have Marcus Kennard join our football team, "said Tuberville. "He is a long target and an explosive player that will give us a downfield threat. That was something we really felt like we were going to need heading into next season because we are losing two seniors who were All-Big 12 performers."

I know, I'm usually the guy that gets overly excited and overly optimistic about players that make an impact. But whether a player is a freshman or a JUCO player, you have to be realistic. There were five receivers on Rivals JUCO Top 50 prospects from the 2010 class. I know that we all get excited, and I fall into this too, but the players that actually contribute to a program their first year are more rare than not, whether they're high school players or JUCO players. It takes time to adjust.

Think about last year's defense for Texas Tech, which was decimated by injury, how many true freshmen played on defense?  Tre' Porter, Cqulin Hubert and Dartwan Bush.  If I'm forgetting anyone, I apologize, but without a doubt, Porter was huge, but Hubert and Bush have both played backup roles this year and are gaining valuable experience, but none of them were game-changers this year.

I think this is part of the problem with recruiting is that recruiting services feed off of the idea and tell you that "what's not here is going to be better than what's here so you better get excited". Yesterday, Scout.com's Greg Powers was on the Williams and Hyatt Show, and he listed a handful of players that he thought could play early.  That's just not realistic.  Other than Ben McRoy, is there another true freshman that made a contribution on offense?  Again, it's the hope that players contribute, but it's just not realistic for a player to sign and make an immediate impact.  It takes time.

Don't get me wrong, I'm super excited about guys like TE Jace Amaro, but consider that Amaro is the #4 ranked tight end in this year's recruiting class. Last year's #1, #4 and #6 TE didn't catch a pass for USC, the #2 TE didn't catch a pass for Florida, the #3 TE didn't catch a pass for Oregon, and the #5 TE didn't catch a pass for Iowa. I know, those teams probably didn't have the need that Texas Tech does, but I'm just saying to temper your expectations.  It's tough to make an impact immediately.

In any event I was actually talking about Kennard.  Got a little distracted.  I also wanted to temper your expectations about Kennard too.  Here's the top 5 JUCO receivers from last year:

Kenbrell Thompkins | #10 JUCO | 4-star | Cincinnati | Signed with Cincinnati last year, but didn't play this year because Tennessee refused his release. Can't blame Thompkins for not being able to play, but he didn't play.

Michael Lindsey | #23 JUCO | 4-star | ???? | Couldn't find where Lindsey wound up, so he didn't make an impact at any university.

Chris Young | #36 JUCO | 4-star | Iowa St. | Didn't catch a pass this year for Iowa St. I'm pretty sure he's on the team, but he didn't make an impact.

Kelvin Bolden | #44 JUCO | 3-star | Southern Mississippi | We have a winner! Bolden caught 41 passes for 667 yards and 6 touchdowns for the Golden Eagles. Both the leading receiver for yardage and catches so this is definitely a success.

Dexter Ransom | #49 JUCO | 3-star | Utah | The Rivals page says that he signed with Arizona, but he actually signed with Utah last year and he had 2 receptions for 12 yards and no touchdowns.

I hope like hell that Kennard can make an impact, and all I had time to do this morning was to take a look at the 2010 class and have no idea if the 2009 or the 2008 classes were any different, but I'm just throwing a bit of caution out there. 

NU Defense Taking a Break:  Chicago Sun Times' Tina Akouris writes that the Northwestern took a bit of a break to take their finals and are getting back to basics:

"We’ve spent more time on fundamentals and individual drills, and I’ve seen the benefits so far," Hankwitz said. "It was a long season, and we played two tough teams at the end when we were beat up. We’re not forgetting about what happened, but we’re not dwelling on it, either."

Welker in SI:  SI.com's Charles P. Pierce has a fantastic article about former Red Raider and current New England Patriot Wes Welker.   You need to take 20 minutes out of your day to read this:

Part of genius is realizing that to look is only to begin to see. Someone looks at a block of marble and sees David. Someone else looks at a river and sees a boy and a man on a raft, one white and one black, floating through the purple twilight in a country facing the bargain that allowed it to grow but betrayed its ideals. Someone else looks at an ocean and sees a continent on the other side, real and solid, even though he has yet to step onto its shores. The eyes are the windows to the soul and all that rot, but they are something else as well. They are the engines of imagination. Geniuses see what isn't there but ought to be, damn well should be, inevitably will be. In this, seeing truly is believing.

Wes Welker's eyes are blue-gray and wide. Their gaze is steady, and their focus is like something alive. It misses nothing in a circular field of vision that seems greater than other people's. Welker sees spaces that nobody else sees. He looks at a field where everyone seems to be colliding and sees a place to run. He looks at a game played by much bigger men and sees a place in which a man who stands 5'9" and weighs 185 pounds can create a kind of art. An old friend of his remembers a broken love affair and sees the words of a song, a deep blue tint on every syllable. Wes Welker looks at a noisy, crowded, violent profession and sees a career.

Watch him yourself. You can look at what he does, but you won't see what he's creating, not until after he's made it. Watch him dart 22 yards through the Indianapolis secondary early in a game in November. A linebacker, Pat Angerer, comes up to cover him. Welker is looking at Angerer, but he's seeing the play he's going to make. He dips inside and then breaks outside—sharp, quick moves of no more than a single step. Angerer goes altogether gelatinous. The passing lane, the space that Welker saw even before he left the line of scrimmage, opens up, and Tom Brady delivers the ball. Welker cantilevers a bit in the air and makes the catch for a touchdown.

Miscellaneous:  Hail to the Purple's Jonathan Hodges (a Northwestern blog) has an excellent preview of the Texas Tech vs. Northwestern game . . . Per ESPNDallas' Tim MacMahon, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wants to end the BCS . . . EDSBS' Spencer Hall has some fantastic pictures of former Texas A&M head coach R.C. Slocum . . .

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