Recruiting on the High Plains :: "Players are made when they get here."

Texas Tech Head Coach, Tommy Tuberville:  This class is very good. You won’t hear a lot of the experts say that ‘They didn’t rank in the Top 20 or the Top 10’. I coached at Miami for nine years. We won three national championships and we went to national championship games six times and we never had a Top 10 recruiting class. Players are made when they get here. You go back to and look at their athletic ability. They obviously are going to have to have some. It’s the determination and the attitude and how they grow and how they proper so to speak when they get on your campus. This group is a very good class and I think there’s going to be some areas that will be better than others just because of numbers. But, I’m excited about it and I know our coaches are and we’re looking forward to getting them here on campus.

Scouring the Interwebs

The LAJ has a partial transcript to Tuberville's press conference from yesterday.  This is a must read and there are so many things to pull from this, that the best thing that you can do is go read the whole thing.  The DT posted a couple of minutes of video of yesterday's press conference.

LAJ's Don Williams asks and answers 6 questions about the current class and among other things, Don gives some insight about having a relatively limited class next year (maybe only 13 scholarships available) and which players might not qualify and will be headed to the JUCO route:

Tuberville said he’d like to have more like 20 scholarships because of the depth of talent in Texas high schools next fall. It could work out that way because of the 25 new players, Tuberville said it’s likely only 18 to 20 will meet initial eligibility requirements.

Running back Delans Griffin, offensive lineman Aleon Calhoun and defensive end Lawrence Cayou are among those who might be detoured to a junior college. Tuberville said he believes every player he signs can earn a degree at Tech. But everywhere he’s coached, he said he’s placed signees in junior colleges with plans to re-sign them two years later.

"Each one of my coaches, they’ve got to find at least one great player that they can put in a juco,’’ Tuberville said. "You do that with seven, eight, nine of those a year, you can win a lot of games (down the road) like that.’’

FWST's Jimmy Burch writes that Tuberville didn't win any wars yesterday, but it was good enough:

Tom Luginbill, ESPN's national recruiting director, sympathizes deeply with first-year coaching staffs on National Signing Day.

Coaches with programs in transition mode, such as Texas Tech's Tommy Tuberville, always find themselves pulling double duty in the film room during a pivotal stretch of the recruiting calendar when peers have honed in on the final handful of prospects they seek to sign.

That makes it hard to match recruiting grades with established coaches such as Texas' Mack Brown and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, who have been at their schools for at least a decade and -- again -- finished 1-2 in the league's annual talent haul, as judged Wednesday by recruiting analysts.

No surprise there. Programs with the longest-tenured coaches typically win recruiting wars in every conference.

And Burch talks with ESPN analyst Tom Luginbill about the message that Tuberville is trying to get out to recruits:

"I've had conversations with coach Tuberville [recently] and the No. 1 thing he's done is tried to make sure the message has gotten across that he's not trying to re-invent the wheel offensively," Luginbill said. "He views this challenge to be purely defensive. By improving that, he could elevate them to a level they could be a team to contend with in the Big 12."

Miscellaneous Links:  LAJ's Courtney Linehan writes that Tuberville did okay considering the time . . . LAJ's Don Williams writes that defensive line coach Charlie Sadler has officially retired and hired is Tarleton State's head coach Sam McElroy and there are a couple of snipets to highlight from this article, as Tuberville is putting a premium on coaches than can recruit:

"I can hire a lot of people that can put Xs and Os on the board,’’ Tuberville said. "We’re going to have recruiters here. Guys that enjoy recruiting, that No. 1 can evaluate, and that No. 2, can do a great job of representing Texas Tech and selling what we have here.

"There’s not one guy that I can say, ‘He’s a little bit weak in recruiting.’ That’s not going to happen with us. You have to have nine very good ones.’’

. . . and Tuberville announced where his staff will coach:

Other than offensive coordinator Neal Brown and defensive coordinator James Willis, Tech has not announced any of the new assistants. However, Tuberville outlined their assignments Wednesday in his national signing day news conference.

McElroy will coach nose tackles and defensive tackles, Willis will tutor inside linebackers, and Robert Prunty will oversee outside linebackers. Travaris Robinson will coach defensive backs with help from graduate assistant Duane Price, who was a safety and a cornerback during his Tech playing career.

Tuberville also confirmed his offensive staff assignments: Brown (quarterbacks), Chad Scott (running backs), Matt Moore (linemen), Sonny Cumbie (inside receivers) and Tommy Mainord (wide receivers). Cumbie was recently promoted from the offense’s graduate assistant, so that position is open.

"I’m going to be head special teams coach — and get ready,’’ Tuberville said with a chuckle.

Surprises

I had no idea that either DE Lawrence Cayou and ILB Cqulin Hubert were even on Texas Tech's radar.  Cayou had originally committed to SMU and Hubert was originally committed to Iowa St.  Here's their information:

Lawrence Cayou
Position: DE : YouTube: N/A : Rivals Profile: Scout Profile: ESPN Profile 40 Grade
Ht: 6'4" : Wt: 255 lbs : Forty: N/A : High School: McDonogh 35 (New Orleans, LA)

Cqulin Hubert
Position: OLB : YouTube: Clip 1 Clip 2 : Rivals Profile: Scout Profile: ESPN Profile 76 Grade
Ht: 6'1" : Wt: 215 lbs : Forty: 4.90 : High School: Eisenhower (Houston, TX)

We'll get into this a bit later, but these projects, like Cayou, Hubert, Whigham, Warren and Jones, are all projects that are built on either being really fast or being a projectable athlete.  I've read that Hubert ran a 5.16 in the 40 because he was injured, but his film says that he's faster than a 5.16 and a player like that doesn't work himself into the backfield like that if he runs that slow of a 40 time.  The ESPN profile had Hubert at a 4.90 and that wouldn't be too bad for an inside linebacker, but he still looks quicker than that.

I think it's also important to point out that Tuberville dropped DE Kedrick Dial (6-4/215) and he looks like he'll eventually become a solid 4-3 defensive end, probably topping out at around 240.  Meanwhile, Tuberville went out after Cayou, who already has the size to play as a 3-4 defensive end and with a little time in the weight room, he could be up to 270 by the time he's ready to play.  Cayou is projected to be more of a project than Dial, but truthfully, if Dial were going to stick at Texas Tech, he's have to play outside linebacker.

What's the Difference

I can say one thing for certain, that I believe (and this thought isn't original) that both recruiting services intentionally keep how they score classes and rank teams marked "TOP SECRET" in order to keep the buzz around the whole process. In fact, last year, a USC fan created a Google Spreadsheet where he apparently cracked the mythical Rivals.com code when there was an uproar as to why Alabama passed LSU at the last minute of the "recruiting national championship". Just for fun, here's the teams that finished in front of Texas Tech in the final recruiting rankings:

Team Commits Avg. Star Rivals Points
Texas 25 3.92 2,728.00
Oklahoma 29 3.55 2,213.00
Texas A&M 23 3.35 1,587.00
Missouri 23 3.30 1,446.00
Nebraska 21 3.24 1,407.00
Oklahoma St. 27 3.19 1,170.00
Baylor 23 3.09 1,025.00
Texas Tech 25 3.00 986.00

 

Nationally, Texas Tech finished with a 3.00 average star per player, which was better than the 38th ranked team in Mississippi St. and the 40th ranked team in BYU. Miami (Da U) finished with 28 commits, which is 3 over the 25 limit and that means that 3 players won't qualify or some player on their team won't have a scholarship starting in the fall. The Canes had an average star of 3.09, 6 4-star players and 18 3-star players. Rivals seems to reward teams that over sign on players and someone will have to explain why Miami finished with 361 more Rivals points yet only had 1 more 4-star player and 3 more 3-star players than Texas Tech. In the top Rivals top 10 recruiting classes, 5 teams over-signed on the 25 clas limit (Florida 28; Auburn 32, Alabama 26, Oklahoma 29 and LSU 29). I'm sure I'm missing something here, but that just doesn't seem that there should be some sort of reward for signing too many players.

Let's look at Baylor. The Bears finished with 2 less recruits, 1 less 4-star player, but had 2 more 3-star players and as a result finishes with a higher Rivals score score. Does 1 4-star player outweigh 2 3-star players? I have no idea, but apparently Rivals does.

Something similar could be said about Oklahoma St. The Cowboys also signed 5 4-star players and 22 3-star players, but they also oversigned in their class by 2, which means that 2 of this group won't qualify. Should those guys be counted in the ranking points? The same could be said for Texas Tech as I'd imagine that not every player that's signed will qualify, but you get the point.

It's silly.

Yet, we cuss and discuss the rankings and thoughts, but the truth is that there's only so much that can or will make sense.

Texas Tech Offense

Year # 5* 4* 3* 2* 1-0* Avg Delta
2002 10.00 - 1.00 3.00 5.00 1.00 2.30 -
2003 8.00 - - 3.00 5.00 - 2.38 0.08
2004 12.00 1.00 2.00 2.00 7.00 - 2.75 0.38
2005 10.00 - - 7.00 3.00 - 2.70 (0.05)
2006 15.00 - 2.00 9.00 4.00 - 2.87 0.17
2007 15.00 - 1.00 11.00 4.00 - 3.00 0.13
2008 8.00 - 1.00 5.00 2.00 - 2.88 (0.13)
2009 8.00 - 3.00 5.00 - - 3.38 0.50
2010 8.00 - 2.00 5.00 1.00 - 3.12 (0.25)

 

Down, but Slightly Down

So the offense had a slight decline over 2009 for reasons discussed 1,000 different places. Had Boone and a couple of the other offensive linemen signed then perhaps the average is a bit better, but overall, I think the offensive class is fairly solid. Obviously, you'd prefer that guys like Boone attend Texas Tech than some other school, but I'm not crying over his decision either.

I updated this spreadsheet from last year just to give you an idea as to where this class sits in respect to previous years, and DTN contributors LondonRaider and TTUMAR have given their two cents as well, but I don't think it's a stretch to say that this class is fairly on par with last year.  The only discrepancy is missing out on Boone, which I don't think is going to be an the worst thing ever.  Keep in mind that in last year's class, players like Aaron Fisher, E.J. Celestie, Derrick Mays and Eric Ward all were highly touted, especially Ward.  In fact, Ward is a couple of inches shorter than Boone, but runs a 4.4 rather than a 4.5 or 4.6.  Ward is a guy that's practically forgotten, but he shouldn't be.

I'd also like to add that Texas Tech has already essentially signed a 4-star WR in Javares McRoy for the 2011 class by securing the services of his brother RB/WR Benjamin McRoy this year.  Ben will greyshirt all of this year, which means that he's taking the path similar to Lyle Leong and he won't count against the 25 scholarship limit this year, but Ben and Javares will start at Texas Tech at the same time.  I know it's fashionable not to give too much credit to the current staff, but the fact that they were able to secure the McRoy brothers already puts the 2011 class on the right foot.

And it's been mentioned before, that this offense (and really you could say this about just about any offense) has been predicated on excellent play from the quarterback position, and Texas Tech signed the best one in the state of Texas.  Here's Tuberville on his future signal caller:

He brings a lot of athletic ability to the table and I think that he’s going to be an exceptional quarterback. Again, there’s a lot that out there that has to be determined on whether he can handle this kind of scenario. But, just visiting with him, he’s a very mature young man that I think is going to be a heck of a quarterback for us. He’s got some good older guys in front of him that he’ll be able to learn from. I like his release. I like the way he gets rid of the football. He’s very competitive which is a big attribute for a quarterback playing at the college level.

Texas Tech Defense

Year # 5* 4* 3* 2* 1-0* Avg Delta
2002 14.00 - 1.00 6.00 7.00 - 2.57 -
2003 17.00 - 2.00 8.00 7.00 - 2.71 0.13
2004 14.00 - 2.00 4.00 8.00 - 2.57 (0.13)
2005 11.00 - 1.00 5.00 5.00 - 2.64 0.06
2006 19.00 - 2.00 13.00 4.00 - 2.89 0.26
2007 11.00 - - 7.00 4.00 - 2.64 (0.26)
2008 8.00 - 2.00 5.00 1.00 - 3.13 0.49
2009 10.00 - - 9.00 1.00 - 2.90 (0.23)
2010 17.00 - 3.00 10.00 4.00 - 2.94 0.4


All About Speed and Athleticism

Only one year since 2002 did Leach recruit more players on defense.  For those of you who don't remember that 2006 class, Leach signed 34 players (yep, you read that correctly) and 19 of those 34 players were defensive players.  Still, this year's class is all about potential and speed.  Looking at the players that were no longer committed at Texas Tech, it seems as if Tuberville put a bigger emphasis on speed, speed, speed.  Here's Tubervile:

Also in this class, we looked for speed. And this entire team will be built on speed as long as I’m here. Speed will win games for us. I don’t look at the height. I don’t look at the weight. I look how fast they can run and how quick they are. If they can have a couple of those qualities, this football team will get better and better.

Of the players that Tuberville signed, including some of the surprise players mentioned above, Tuberville went for a defensive back that runs a 4.38 in Phillip Warren and another defensive back that may be one of the better athletes of the class in Lavaughn Whigham.  Tuberville put a premium on speed along the defensive line, signing smaller defensive tackles in Mike Jones, but Jones also has the ability to be incredibly quick along the line. 

I think there's also something to the idea that when a team signs a class, it's a crap-shoot in more ways that one.  I've done this before, but the truth is that any given recruiting class you can take about half of those players and they won't have an effect on the program in any meaningful way.  But with more players to work with, the coaching staff will have an opportunity to hopefully mold some of these players into solid contributors.

The other thought is that Tuberville is definitely putting an emphasis on defense, in particular the defensive line.  Here's Tuberville on the defense:

There’s a reason for that. We need more defensive players. The one area we really need players was at the defensive linemen position and we signed eight. That will pay dividends for us. I’ve told people for years, they look at all these recruiting ratings and the great players-the four and five star players. However, you can throw it all out and grade the defensive linemen that you recruited.

Never has the offense to defense ratio been so lopsided.  Leach's biggest criticisms was that he was too loyal to those around him, which included holding onto DC Lyle Setencich too long and maybe promoting DC Ruffin McNeill from within the program rather than look outside the program.  There's nothing wrong with that and I believe that McNeill did a terrific job last year in grabbing a handful of players that are projected to be impact players, but the tables may be turned a bit, at least for this year, in that Tuberville obviously wanted to put an emphasis on the defensive side of the ball, maybe inject a bit of new blood into a unit that hasn't received proper attention under Leach until he allowed McNeill to do his thing.

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