Recruiting on the South Plains | Texas Tech Football Recruiting | Final Thoughts

TEXAS TECH FOOTBALL 2012 RECRUITING SNAPSHOT
Signee Superlatives
BEST HIGH SCHOOL OFFENSIVE SLEEPER | RB Quinton White | Because everyone has talked about Davis and Wheeler, it makes sense to give this to Quinton White, who was lightly recruited
BEST HIGH SCHOOL DEFENSIVE SLEEPER | CB Thierry Nguema | Nguema grey-shirted last year, but there's a reason why he was still given a scholarship this year.
BEST JUCO DEFENSIVE PLAYER | DE Lee Adams | Adams has the opportunity to play immediately due to the lack of depth along the defensive line.
BEST JUCO OFFENSIVE PLAYER | WR Javon Bell | Bell could immediately be an impact player.
PLAYERS WHOSE SIZE MATTERS | DT Michael Starts, DT Anthony Smith and DT J.J. Loller | Other than Dennell Wesley, no defensive lineman on the roster has the current size of Starts, Smith or Loller.
BEST ATHLETE | WR Reginald Davis | Tough to choose between Reginald Davis, Dominuque Wheeler, Keenon Ward and Casey Gladney, but they are all similar in size and athletic ability. I'll choose Davis because he was named the Class A player of the year.
BEST WEST TEXAS PRODUCT | ATH Keenon Ward | Ward and QB Clayton Nicholas are the options, but Ward was absolutely incredible his senior year and I think had Ward played closer to a metro area, he'd be a 4-star player.
PLAYERS ON THE SPOT | S Austin Stewart, CB Bruce Jones and CB Olaoluwa Falemi | The staff signed three JUCO defensive backs and they should all be expected to either start or contribute immediately. You could also add Chris Payne as a hybrid DB/LB.
PLAYER ASKED TO DO THE MOST | IR Sadale Foster | Foster is probably going to be expected to contribute to so many parts of the game, punt returner, kickoff returner, running back and inside receiver. He's going to be busy.

Recruiting By The Numbers
1: This is the number of out-of-state high school players in this class, DE Chase Robison.
3 and 6: If this is any indication of which side of the ball needs the most help, there are 3 JUCO offensive players compared to 6 JUCO defensive players.
73.73: This is the cumulative ranking for the offensive signees, excluding Pearson, which rates as a very high 3-star player.
67.25: This is the cumulative ranking for the defensive signees, which rates as just below a 3-star player.
72.45: This is the cumulative ranking for the two athletes, Ward and Gladney, which is a high 3-star player.

This is most likely the last 2012 Texas Tech football recruiting post. The rest of the winter and summer months will focus on spring practice, which will start later this month and the Red vs. Black Spring Game. I haven't mentioned each and every player, but I've done that in each profile that I've done. You can find the 2012 football recruiting page here and keep in mind that DTN has a section that was solely devoted to the 2012 class.

Handling It the Right Way

It's always nice when players don't flip on National Signing Day and for Texas Tech, they had a pleasant surprise in ATH Casey Gladney flipping from Alabama to Texas Tech, but I very much preferred the way that things happened at Texas Tech for the most part. Texas Tech did lose three commits, but it happened earlier in the year and there were concerns as to whether or not this would cause the class to fall apart. Halapoulivaati Vaitai flipped to TCU, Christian Okafor flipped to California and Marcus Johnson flipped to Texas, but it all happened in December and I'm thankful that it happened this way.

I appreciate the fact that these players decided what was best for them, even if it wasn't with Texas Tech, well before National Signing Day. It allows the staff to use that scholarship on another player and it also allows the staff to not just hand out a scholarship on NSD when a player flips at the last minute. It allows all parties to recover. It also means that Okafor, Vaitai and Johnson weren't about creating some sort of NSD drama and I appreciate that they were mature enough to give the staff notice of their de-commitment.

This is the way it should be and NSD shouldn't be full of drama.

Size at Cornerback

I mentioned this in Casey Gladney's recruiting profile, which is the thought that I like having 6-1/180 sized cornerbacks with the speed combination as there weren't really any of those types of cornerbacks on the roster. Tre' Porter is the only cornerback currently on the roster over 6-0 and that's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, if you take a look at the two JUCO cornerbacks, they're both under 6-0 and they're going to be expected to play right now. Olaoluwa Falemi is 5-11 and Bruce Jones is 5-9, but at the very least they have experience on their side. With Thierry Nguema (6-0/175), La'Darius Newbold (6-1/180) and most likely Casey Gladney (6-1/180) you have three good-sized cornerbacks that should help in going against some of the bigger receivers in the conference.

I was actually concerned prior to signing day about the overall lack of depth at defensive back considering how much this team struggled defending the pass and now there are some options. I'm not necessarily expecting Nguema, Newbold or Gladney to start or even play this year and Tuberville commented about Gladney that he has the measurables to play immediately and I think that's true of Newbold and Nguema. They all probably lack a bit of technique to play right away, which is why the staff signed Jones and Falemi. They're the ones that are most likely going to get immediate playing time.

I'd also add that I thought that the defensive back situation was fairly loaded and there were a lot of returning players that we haven't even see the field. I think I really liked what I saw with Cornelius Douglas and Happiness Osunde, but just about everyone else struggled, including Porter, who seemed disinterested more times than not. Cornerback is a position of need.

Shoring Up At Least One Linebacker

Another dismal part of the 2011 defense was the linebackers. There were bright spots as Sam Eugovoen and Blake Dees both saw time last year, but they were true freshmen and I think they were overwhelmed. With a year of conditioning, I think that will help tremendously, but they weren't ready. It didn't help that the defensive line wasn't taking care of their job, but either way, Dees and Eugovoen weren't ready. Cqulin Hubert and Daniel Cobb were incredibly hit or miss. There was little consistency to what they offered on the field.

With a guy like Will Smith I think Texas Tech is getting a three-down linebacker, a guy that shouldn't have to come off the field. Smith was part of an excellent linebacker trio (one linebacker signed with Nebraska and the other signed with Baylor) in the JUCO ranks, but he offers good size and good speed according to his film.

Chris Payne offers a hybrid type of player, but that was understandable considering his size. Payne is obviously undersized, but he produces and I think it's a tough thing to say that a player has a certain intangible, but this is a situation where Payne did produce on the JUCO level and he excelled. I don't know that Payne starts, but he'll play because I think he'll be needed for third downs because he offers some range, size and speed that I don't think that other players on this team offers.

So much more after the jump.

Playmakers

The one thing that makes an offense go is playmakers and there's never a guarantee, but a team has to give itself options and opportunities. I think that Reginald Davis, Dominique Wheeler and Javon Bell offer up those sorts of opportunities for this team. I'm going to go into this later in the week, but special playmakers make just about any offense go from average to exceptional and sometimes you don't know what a player is going to do until he sees the field. I can almost assure you that Davis and Wheeler will redshirt, and it's not because they don't have talent, but rather because I think that it's a safe assumption to think that playing receiver involves nuances that take time to master. I'm more set on the thought that Bell can make an immediate impact because he's done it on the JUCO level for a couple of years and he's done it at a high level. That doesn't mean that I think Bell will not have to adjust, we saw that with Marcus Kennard last year, who I think the staff wanted to redshirt, but Kennard wanted to play. I think Kennard would have benefited greatly from a redshirt year, but from listening to interviews, I think that the staff feels that Bell can contribute immediately.

But back to Davis and Wheeler, I think a program has to stockpile talent and that's what I consider Davis and Wheeler to be, which is that there are a ton of senior receivers on this team right now and next year and in a couple of years, that talent is going to have to be replaced. That's what Davis and Wheeler represent, which is an opportunity to replace the talent that will graduate next year and the year after.

Winning JUCO Programs

When Tuberville and his staff went out to identify talent, I think one of the things that the looked at to start the process was winning JUCO programs and they they wanted to snag as many talented players as they could from those programs. Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C. went 10-2 for two straight years and Texas Tech signed OL Rashad Fortenberry, WR Javon Bell and LB Chris Payne. Riverside C.C went 10-0 in 2011 and 9-1 in 2010 and Texas Tech signed IR Saldale Foster, LB Will Smith, DE Lee Adams and CB Bruce Jones. That's seven of your nine JUCO signees and I think that as silly as it may sound, the staff wanted to inject not only talent, but talent from successful programs that won. Texas Tech didn't win many games last year and there are players on this team that won under Leach, there's no doubt about that, but after a 5-7 season, I kept thinking through this process that there is a reason why Tuberville, and largely Prunty as a recruiter, wanted to identify players who played at winning programs. I think this past year's team lacked a certain amount of confidence, evidenced by the awful Big 12 record. Certainly, this team was close in some instances, namely Texas A&M and Kansas St., but the Texas and Oklahoma St. games weren't really even contests. And the thought that lack of confidence is something that is clearly on the coaching staff and they must do a better job of instilling confidence in this team, but I do believe that not only did the staff want to insert talent, but also to perhaps instill some much needed confidence.

Walk-Ons and Glue Guys

I'm probably foolish to think that a walk-on fullback can make a difference, but FB Michael Pearson seems like an inspirational story and one that I think his teammates can learn a lot from in terms of perseverance and wanting to get an education. Sometimes I have to remind myself that football is foremost, however, the thing that football provides is an opportunity for some of these players to get an education and make their lives better as a result. In listening to this interview with Double T 104.3's Chris Level and Aaron Dickens, Pearson talks about how both his mother being a police officer and his father being a fireman, that he had everything he ever needed, that he had a kid and while working at Wal-Mart he realized that he wasn't going to be able to give as much to his child without getting an education. Pearson was mainly a special teams guy while at Pierce C.C. and played some fullback, but guys like Pearson, who maybe appreciates the opportunity can be incredibly important to building a team. Pearson was a captain at his Pierce team and it wouldn't surprise me to see Pearson as the special teams captain this year. Players need to take ownership of the job that they're doing and if Pearson takes ownership of the entire special teams as a leader, that could go a long way in making this team more cohesive and just better at playing football.

I'd also be remiss in not mentioning OL Connor Grooms, who had offers from Kansas and Louisiana Tech, and ended up deciding that Texas Tech was where he wanted to play as almost everyone in his family attended or is attending Texas Tech. We all talk about, especially during recruiting, that "we" all want players to play for "our" school and forget the ones that don't. Well, that's all good in theory, but for a player like Grooms, to forgo a free ride to attend Texas Tech, with the possibility of being on scholarship at some point, means something to me.

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