|2011 NATIONAL SIGNING DAY|
Today is supposed to be a day about superlatives. However, the truth is that perhaps half of the players listed below won't make it at Texas Tech for a variety of reasons. But today is a day of hope for each of these players, hope that they can all make an impact and play for Texas Tech.
There are so many links and stories that I'm not sure where to begin. The LAJ has a National Signing Day 2011 page and that's one place to start, but I think that most fans want to know what the national writers think about a recruiting class and how the class ranked overall.
Winner: #18 Texas Tech Red Raiders
Texas Tech closed with as big a bang as anyone on Signing Day, getting decisions and signatures from seven players. Particularly impressive was Texas Tech's ability to reach out of its normal recruiting area to get two stars of the Keystone State. Athlete Desimon Green (6'5/220) of Clairton, Pa. and linebacker Branden Jackson (6'4/225) of McKeesport, Pa. are 3-Star and 4-Star athletes respectively. The running game should get an infusion of talent as well with three 4-Star running backs including Kenny Williams (5'10/206) of Pflugerville, Texas.
19. Texas Tech
Head of the class: TE Jace Amaro, RB Kenny Williams
Buzz: The Red Raiders class was topped by a strong group of offensive weapons led by Rivals250 tight end Jace Amaro and running back Kenny Williams. Joining the duo at the top of the class on the offensive side of the ball is wide receivers Derek Edwards and Marcus Kennard. The top defensive prospect in the class is junior college defensive end Leon Mackey. The deep class did suffer one tough loss down the stretch when defensive back Marcus Roberson defected for Auburn before eventually signing with Florida.
Big fish that got away: DB Marcus Roberson
ESPN does not have Texas Tech ranked in their top 25, but did grade all of the Big 12 schools and gives Texas Tech a "B-":
4. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Top prospect: RB Kenny Williams has the compact bulk, power and load-back qualities to carry the rock early in Lubbock.
Name to remember: QB Michael Brewer lacks prototypical size but has the arm strength, quick delivery and great athleticism to make plays out of the spread.
Breakdown: Tommy Tuberville's first recruiting class is solid and spent much of the year in the top 25. The Red Raiders put an emphasis on the running back position with two four-star backs. Williams is a load with good downhill power and deceptively good feet through traffic. Bradley Marquez (Odessa, Texas/Odessa) is smaller but quicker and is a nice complement to Williams. He also has polished receiving skills. High-upside offensive tackle Le'Raven Clark (Rockdale, Texas/Rockdale) is an athletic lineman who has a good frame and matching athleticism to develop in Lubbock.
Texas Tech: While the Red Raiders ended up outside the MaxPreps Top 25 when Signing Day wound down, there's no denying that Tommy Tuberville brought in an impressive class of signees. Branden Jackson should eventually be an asset to a middling front four once he fills out his frame, and for the meantime Tuberville brought in two well-regarded JUCO defensive linemen. It'll be interesting to see what Tech does with the glut of high-profile tailbacks that signed; DeAndre Washington, Bradley Marquez, and Kenny Williams all look talented enough to start, but Washington and/or Marquez might be better suited to some sort of slotback role instead. It's a nice problem to have at a school that doesn't typically bring in strong recruiting classes.
Last but not least, 24/7 Sports via Sports Illustrated (a relatively new recruiting service) has Texas Tech ranked #23:
Headliners: TE Jace Amaro, RB Kenny Williams, DE Leon Mackey
The skinny: This is the best recruiting class in recent memory for Texas Tech. The Red Raiders enjoyed a banner signing day receiving letters of intent from defensive end Leon Mackey (Raymond, MS./Hinds C.C.), defensive end Desimon Green (Clariton, Pa.), defensive end Branden Jackson (McKeesport, Pa.), defensive end/tackle Donte Phillips (Meqon, Wi./Homestead), defensive end/tight end Cooper Washington (Muleshoe, Tx.) and running back Otis Wright (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Dillard) to go with what was already an impressive haul. Mackey and Washington, a signing day switch from Oklahoma, were the eye-openers. In Amaro, the Red Raiders are getting one of the most athletic tight end prospects in the country and Williams is a powerful runner. Tommy Tuberville and staff beat Texas A&M on both in-state stars. The Red Raiders signed seven defensive linemen.
The ones that got away: DE/T Jon Lewis, DT James Castleman
There's a ton of additional links out there, especially lots of links from local papers, but I only had time to look for the national recruiting services. Feel free to drop any additional links in the comments.
|SUPERLATIVES FOR EVERY SIGNEE|
AVAILABLE FOR SPRING PRACTICE
PLAYER THAT KNOWS HOW TO WIN | QB Michael Brewer | Brewer is a guy that just knows how to win and led his Lake Travis team to the 4A Texas State Championship. If there is a player that you can say that intangibles may make a difference, it's Brewer. Good runner and has a good arm
PLAYER THAT KNOWS THE ENDZONE | ATH Ronnie Daniels | Incredibly underrated and knows the endzone. Scored 42 touchdowns his senior season alone and rushed for over 2,841 yards. Had he not played in New Mexico, a 6-1/210 running back that supposedly runs a 4.40 to 4.50 40-yard dash don't happen every day.
PLAYER THAT LACKS MEASURABLES, BUT FINDS THE BALL | LB Blake Dees | Dees was a guy that was recruited by former DC James Willis and obviously enrolled early. He's clearly an inside linebacker and since we haven't heard from new DC Chad Glasgow, we're not sure how he'll fit in Glasgow's defense. Nevertheless, he's a guy that doesn't stand out in terms of athleticism, but seems to find the ball and make plays. His high school team won the state championship in Alabama.
PLAYER THAT WINS THE HIGH JUMP | WR Derek Edwards | A long and lean receiver, could be a Lyle Leong starter kit. Tend not to notice the fact that he's 6-3/163, which is a bit slim. Edwards has been on board with Texas Tech for a long time and along with Brewer, was instrumental in keeping in touch with his fellow commits.
TALLEST RECEIVER | WR Marcus Kennard | Yes, recivers can be over 6-0 at Texas Tech and Kennard fills a need in that the current Texas Tech receiving corps only has two receivers over 6-0, Alexander Torres and Darren Moore. With Kennard being on campus now, he should be a guy that could contribute next year and make an impact. There just aren't a bunch of receivers like Kennard currently on campus.
PLAYER MOST LIKELY TO BENEFIT FROM SPRING PRACTICE | DB Jeremy Reynolds | Reynolds is another guy that you really don't hear about, perhaps because he played high school football in North Carolina, but he was invited and did play in the National Underclassmen Game (along with ATH DeAndre Washington and DE Kindred Evans) and usually "just a guy" doesn't get invited to those types of events. Another guy that just doesn't have a college-ready body right now and will benefit from spring practice, although from the limited film I've watched, he can play some man coverage and looks comfortable doing so.
AVAILABLE FOR FALL PRACTICE
BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER | TE Jace Amaro | Watch the film and think about what a 6-5/240 player that out-runs opposing defensive backs could do for this offense. May be the best thing to happen to Texas Tech's offense since Michael Crabtree.
PLAYER WITH THE MOST GROWTH POTENTIAL | OL Le'Raven Clark | With Clark's frame he has the most growth potential and as aggressive and athletic as he is on his film, he could be a serious player in a couple of years, but not this year. Needs a redshirt year to hit the weights.
So much more after the jump.
BEST LONG TERM PASS RUSHER | DE Kindred Evans | Evans played in the National Underclassmen Game and although he's a bit light now, he's tall and so you think that he'll have the ability to add some weight without sacrificing much of his athleticism. Another guy that needs some development.
YET ANOTHER ALL-AROUND ATHLETE | ATH J.J. Gaines | Was an all-purpose player in high school and played quarterback, running back and reciver. Most likely, he'll play defensive back at Texas Tech and provide some depth at defensive back that's probably not as deep as you might think.
FASTEST IN A FOOTRACE | WR Jakeem Grant | Am waiting for the YouTube video in a race between Grant and RB Ben McRoy. Grant is one of three smaller, faster, game changing backs/receivers. Overshadowed by Johnathan Gray but had an incredible state final game.
BEST LOCAL PRODUCT | RB Bradley Marquez | The second of the smaller, faster backs (Grant and another below). Marquez knows how to scoot had absolutely ridiculous high school numbers his senior year (2,210 yards and 29 touchdowns), but may have been off of some schools' radars because he was injured a good part of his junior year. Lots of folks project that Marquez may eventually play receiver and he has the size to do it.
MOST OVERSHADOWED TWIN BROTHER | OL Alfredo Morales | The smaller of the Morales twins and like his brother, projects inside, most likely at guard. Is overshadowed a bit by his older brother, but he's a road-grader as well and Texas Tech doesn't have a lot of other options at the guard positions currently on the roster.
MOST COLLEGE READY OFFENSIVE PLAYER | OL Tony Morales | Texas Tech's most play-ready lineman. The fact that Texas Tech has all five returning starters may be the one reason why Tony doesn't play and start immediately like Louis Vasquez. He's that good.
MOST LIKELY TO START DAY ONE | DT Leon Mackey | From the very little that I've seen of Mackey the more I think that he will absolutely start on the defensive line from the very first day. Mackey may has some eligibility problems, but if he is on campus he's a difference maker.
RENAISSANCE MAN OF THE CLASS | ATH LaDarrin Robertson | Robertson can do it all and did it all for his Longview team. Played quarterback, receiver or whatever his coaches needed for him to do for the team to be successful. Most likely will be moved to defense and will be a versatile athlete there as well. I think he projects to a linebacker, but could maybe play safety in the 4-2-5 or if he puts on weight play at defensive end.
POSSIBLE IMMEDIATE PUNT RETURNER | DeAndre Washington (Playmaker) | Washington is the third of the crazy-shifty difference makers that could see time on offense (Grant and Marquez). Wouldn't be surprised if he is the one that does not redshirt this year and is returning kicks rather than or alongside RB Eric Stephens. It's strange to have to think of yet another original thought on a player like Washington when you've already had to write about two others that are similar. An embarassment of riches in terms of athletes.
BEST DEFENSIVE TACKLE | Dennell Wesley | No doubt that losing Castleman so late is tough and as of the time of writing this, Wesley is the only defensive tackle in this year's commitment list, which means that invariably, this team will need to recruit some JUCO players for the 2012 class and the 2012 class must have it's fair share of defensive linemen.
COLLEGE READY RUNNER | Kenny Williams | The most polished, college ready running back Texas Tech has. More of a bruiser type runner, not with great shiftiness but very hard to bring down. If he can catch onto the blocking schemes and show that he can catch the ball, he will be playing next season as he is a between the tackles the type of runner that the current roster probably lacks.
FROM UNKNOWN TO KNOWN | OL Matt Wilson | Wilson was a long-time Houston commit and a lot of people noticed Wilson's play during the Texas State Championship. I was very excited to hear about the commit of Wilson. Wilson is not college ready like Tony Morales and he doesn't have the athleticism that Le'Raven Clark has, but Texas Tech needs some depth at offensive line and it's good to take a shot on a kid like Wilson who has the frame to add some weight and become a reliable right tackle.
LINEBACKERS THAT PROVIDE DEPTH | LB Justin Cooper | LB Sam Eguavoen | Cooper is a player from Florida and we'll have to see if it's true that a Florida players often go a bit overlooked as I believe that both Florida commits from last year never made it on campus. Cooper's high school coach raves about his football IQ and like Eguavoen, he'll probably have to add some weight to play linebacker, but it's the speed that needs to be maintained. Haven't seen any film on Eguavoen, although he's said was initially a basketball player that's found his way to the football field his junior year, which is why a guy that's his size didn't have an extensive offer list. And he currently plays ball with current Texas Tech basketball signee, SG Toddrick Gotcher. You know he's going to redshirt and he probably needs time to just play, but he's got the athleticism to be a difference maker.
DEFENSIVE ENDS THAT I DIDN'T THINK WOULD BE SIGNED YESTERDAY | DE Branden Jackson | DE Desimon Green | DE Cooper Washington | If you had asked me yesterday, what chance did Texas Tech have to sign Jackson or Green, I think I would have thought 10%. Now, Texas Tech has both Jackson and Green as well as Washington. Truth be told, there's a handful of defensive ends on the team that are freshmen (i.e. will be redshirt freshmen or sophomores next year), so it's going to be interesting to see how three more defensive ends will contribute to this mix. And the athletic make-up of all three of these athletes are eerily similar, 6-5, about 220 and run a 4.60 to 4.70. If I had to guess, I'm not sure that Bront Bird or Brian Duncan (I still love you guys) could run a 4.70. It's all about upgrading speed.
A REAL LIVE FRESHMAN DEFENSIVE TACKLE | DT Donte Phillips | I shouldn't sweat Tuberville, he obviously had this under control, but I was a tad bit worried about the defensive tackle position moving forward and it's a relief to have a living-breathing defensive tackle in the mix other than Coby Coleman and Pearlie Graves past 2011 (excluding Wesley and Mackey). Phillips plays a bit tall, but he's another guy that you're hoping that can develop. He was also apparently offered late by Penn St.
CAN SETH C PLEASE STOP TALKING ABOUT ATHLETES | ATH Otis Wright | ATH Javess Blue | I'm including Blue in this paragraph because he did commit, although when he did commit, it was clear that he would be signing with Butler C.C. Wright is essentially in the same boat. Wright didn't have a Division I offer before yesterday. But in swoops new DB coach Otis Mounds and you've got two Florida players that might have some grade issues and might attend a JUCO, but also might end up at Texas Tech. The strange thing is that when I made the comparison of the type of athlete with Jackson, Green and Washington, you could make a similar comparison with Wright and Blue. Both are about 6'0, weigh 180 and run a 4.50 or faster. Those types of athletes don't grow on trees, but if either or both Wright and Blue workout, those are the types of athletes that can fill a number of spots on a team - cornerback, safety, running back, receiver, and possibly linebacker. Yes please.
SOME LOVE FOR THE PREFERRED WALK-ONS | DB Junior Osunde | DT Michael Odiari | When news broke that Osunde had committed to Texas Tech, the recruiting services included him on the commitment list, but it was apparently later learned that Osunde would be walking-on at Texas Tech, but had a full scholarship offer with Minnesota. Apparently Osunde has some legal issues that's keeping him here in Texas (I have no idea what they are and won't even speculate) so if Osunde does anything then consider it a blessing. The same goes for Odiari, sans the legal issues. When Odiari graduated from Hebron he was a 5-10/225 defensive tackle that pretty much didn't get a sniff from any major college. Odiari goes to California and plays a couple years of football for Butte College, grows 5 or 6 inches and gains about 35 pounds and now you've got a guy that might be able to give a team that lacks depth at defensive tackle a little more depth. Same thing goes with Odiari, which is if Texas Tech gets anything out of Odiari, consider it a blessing.
|THE 2011 CLASS|
I'm sure that there are some things that aren't entirely accurate, but by the time I finished this last night I was pretty tired and so if there are errors, please let me know. I've only included the players that signed letters of intent. At some point, we'll have to do profiles on the players that committed yesterday.
|Position||Commitment||Ht/Wt||School/State||Rivals||Rivals Rating||Scout||ESPN||ESPN Grade|
|QB||Michael Brewer||6-0/175||Lake Travis (Austin, TX)||3||5.7||3||3||78|
|RB||Kenny Williams||5-10/210||Hendrickson (Pflugerville, TX)||4||5.8||4||4||80|
|RB||Bradley Marquez||5-11/180||Odessa (Odessa, TX)||3||5.7||4||4||79|
|WR||Derek Edwards||6-1/163||Brenham (Brenham, TX)||4||5.8||3||3||79|
|WR||Marcus Kennard||6-4/205||Butler County C.C. (El Dorado, KS)||4||5.8||2||0||0|
|WR||Jakeem Grant||5-7/157||Horn (Mesquite, TX)||3||5.5||3||3||75|
|TE||Jace Amaro||6-5/237||MacArthur (San Antonio, TX)||4||5.9||4||3||78|
|OL||Tony Morales||6-4/300||Sam Houston (Arlington, TX)||4||5.8||3||3||78|
|OL||Alfredo Morales||6-3/287||Sam Houston (Arlington, TX)||3||5.7||3||3||76|
|OL||Le'Raven Clark||6-6/245||Rockdale (Rockdale, TX)||3||5.7||4||3||79|
|OL||Matt Wilson||6-7/270||Coldspring-Oakhurst (Coldspring, TX)||3||5.5||3||0||45|
|DL||Dennell Wesley||6-3/315||Butler County C.C. (El Dorado, KS)||3||5.5||2||0||0|
|DL||Leon Mackey||6-5/260||Hinds C.C. (Raymond, MS)||4||5.8||3||0||0|
|DL||Donte Phillips||6-3/260||Homestead (Mequon, WI)||2||5.4||3||2||74|
|DE||Kindred Evans||6-6/215||South Grand Prairie (Grand Prairie, TX)||3||5.6||3||3||75|
|DE||Branden Jackson||6-4/220||McKeesport (McKeesport, PA)||3||5.7||4||3||78|
|DE||Desimon Green||6-5/230||Clairton (Clairton, PA)||3||5.5||3||3||78|
|DE||Cooper Washington||6-4/225||Muleshoe (Muleshoe, TX)||3||5.7||3||3||78|
|LB||Blake Dees||6-0/234||Spanish Fort (Spanish Fort, AL)||3||5.5||3||2||73|
|LB||Sam Eguavoen||6-2/220||Lakeview Centennial (Garland, TX)||3||5.6||2||3||75|
|LB||Justin Cooper||6-1/205||University School of Nova South (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)||3||5.5||2||2||74|
|CB||Jeremy Reynolds||5-9/166||Oak Ridge Military Academy (Oak Ridge, NC)||3||5.5||2||3||77|
|ATH||Ronnie Daniels||6-1/195||La Cueva (Albuquerque, NM)||3||5.6||3||3||76|
|ATH||LaDarrin Robertson||6-3/215||Longview (Longview, TX)||3||5.5||3||3||77|
|ATH||DeAndre Washington||5-9/183||Marshall (Missouri City, TX)||3||5.7||4||3||78|
|ATH||J.J. Gaines||5-11/175||Irving Nimitz (Irving, TX)||3||5.6||3||3||77|
|ATH||Otis Wright||6-0/180||Dillard (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)||2||5.4||0||0||45|