LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 12: Justin Blackmon #81 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys is tackled by Zach Winbush #27 and Cody Davis #16 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The offseason is filled with questions, especially this year. Rather than ask those questions and not offer any solutions, I thought it would be interesting to offer theorems, i.e. all right angles are congruent, and you tell me if you think they're true or not.
Theorem: All Players Need to Contribute | Finding a Tight End
It's becoming fairly apparent that Texas Tech will have just one scholarship tight end, Jace Amaro. A few weeks ago, there was a non-scholarship tight end on the roster, but he apparently isn't on the any more. The current group of commits for the 2010 class do not include a tight end and I wouldn't expect any sort of tight end commitment this late in the recruiting year.
First and foremost, I think it's imperative that players contribute as much as possible. And yes, I realize that theorems are absolutes, they are true, however, this first one, "All Players Need To Contribute" isn't so much of a theorem as much as it is maybe my own personal opinion. You're just going to have to go with me on this. The thought struck me as I considered the tight end position and the thought that there may be players that are burried in the depth chart, that will have no legitimate chance to play at their spot, but could find utility on the team. So I thought it would be an interesting exercise to take a look at the roster and figure out if there are any other players on the roster, at some other position that isn't contributing at all, that might be able to contribute at tight end. Heck, we've already seen how this staff is willing to take a look at players at positions other than where they were recruited, including Shawn Corker and Cornelius Douglas. So, let's take a look.
The Undersized Offensive Lineman
Seems like there are a couple of options here. Up first is Matt Wilson, who was a part of the 2011 class. Interestingly, when Wilson was listed by the services, it was generally regarded that he was 6'7" and 270, however, after an official weigh-in, he's listed at 6'6" and 254. When Wilson committed he said that he was a good athlete, that he played basketball all of his life and he was pretty athletic. His main concern heading into college was putting on some weight. I've never been able to find any video of Wilson, so I don't know how athletic he is, but this seems like a really good option if we're looking for a blocking tight end for the somewhat rare occasion that Texas Tech lines up in 12 personnel or 22 personnel. It would somewhat mimic what Texas Tech did in 2010 with Chris Olson who would line up at tight end. One other note is that Wilson is an engineering major, which means that if he was asked to learn two different positions, perhaps a tackle spot and/or tight end, that he'd be able to handle it.
Hardly Used Linebackers
There are a coule of things to consider here. First, I don't know if it was Tuberville or Glasgow that believed so much in the young linebackers last year, Blake Dees and Sam Eguavoen, as well as Pete Robertson, who saw some action early in the year before being injured. In any event, what that effectively did was push some older players down and literally off the depth chart. Players like Zach Winbush and Dion Chidozie are now afterthoughts when it comes to playing time on the defense.
More after the jump.
I've never gotten to really see either of these players play so the mere thought of thinking that either of them could contribute at tight end might be far-fetched, but at the end of the day, these are football players. They have played offense and defense for most of their football careers and it still comes down to whipping the man in front of you. I'm not writing either of them off in terms of never playing linebacker, but there were three linebackers in the 2011 class, Dees, Eguavoen and Justin Cooper. The 2012 class has four linebackers, Ryan Flannigan, Kris Williams, Will Smith and Chris Payne. Smith and Payne are JUCO players so you'd somewhat expect them to maybe get some opportunity to play sooner rather than later.
Chidozie is obviously a little light to be considered a tight end at 6'1" and 192. In fact, just for a bit of comparison, Cornelius Douglas out-weighs Chidozie, so he would have to put on some weight. But to give you an idea as to playing time, Chidozie redshirted in 2009, played in 1 game in 2010 and was a scout team member in 2011. That's regression.
Winbush is a bit different in that he did actually get in six games in 2011, registering three tackles and one fumble recovery. Winbush has decent size, 6'1' and 219, so he's much closer to being able to be along the line that Chidozie.
One other option is Tanner Foster. Foster (I think) is a non-scholarship player, but he actually played a bit in 2011, 5 game and 6 tackles. I think he's mainly a special teams player, but Foster has good enough size to play along the line right now at 6'3" and 230, although I think he was injured in the Nevada game, which cut his season short, but again, with so many linebackers on the way, I know the staff liked Foster, but if Foster plays at linebacker, something has gone horribly wrong.
What About Some Defensive Ends?
I don't know that I'm ready to start thinking that the defensive ends should or could be switched to a different position. Seems like this team needs a lot of help along the line and could use every body to spare. The only options would really maybe be Christopher Knighton (6-1/248) who didn't get any time from what I can remember. I'm also not willing or ready to move Branden Jackson (6-4/225) or Kindred Evans (6-3/223) to the offense, although I think they have excellent athleticism and could be good at tight end, but I don't want to rob from the defensive side of the field when the defense needs so much help.
At this point, I think it's imperative to utilize as many roster spots as possible. And what I really mean is that if there is a player at a position that is blocked or just isn't going to play, then I think that you try to get all of that talent that may not be playing involved in some form or fashion. It seems that in the NFL, players are kept or cut based on how much they can contribute in one of the few remaining roster spots. Players that can do more than one thing, playing their position and being on special teams are worth their weight in gold. This is my concept here, which is that players that aren't contributing in any meaningful way find spots on the roster that need some assistance.