Head coach Kliff Kingsbury and his new coaching staff completed their first recruiting class. A look at all of the players involved and the coaches responsible for those players.
QB Davis Webb (6-4/195)
Webb is an interesting case-study and I really do think that former OC Neal Brown did a really good job of scouting Webb and picking the right quarterback. It's not going to always been the highest rated quarterback, but Webb is really good. I think he had a tough senior year and was injured part of the year. But Webb was always pretty good. Making it some near the end of ESPN's Elite 11. I really like Webb and I really like Nicholas and I really like Brewer. I think the next three years are going to be fun figuring who who is going to spin the ball.
RB Tyler Middleton (6-0/180)
This class went from having three running backs to one running back very quickly. Rowlett's Jalen Rhodes, who was injured most of the year and was eventually no longer offered a scholarship by Kingsbury but signed with UTSA today. Rodriguez Moore, who eventually signed with Cincinnati. And Daryl Chestut who signed with Indiana today. They're obviously all gone. But Kingsbury went out and got someone from West Texas. I think I heard on Tech Talk that Bradley Marquez was in charge of Middleton during his visit and that's about a perfect host for Middleton that you can get. The interesting thing about Middleton is that he's not your typical size for a running back, he's long and lean and he has terrific speed. I have no idea how this is going to play out in the scheme of the overall offense, but I can't wait to find out.
WR Dylan Cantrell (6-3/202)
IR Carlos Thompson (5-9/173)
IR Devin Lauderdale (5-11/170)
WR Peyton Williams (6-1/185)
WR D.J. Polite-Bray (6-1/180)
WR Gary Moore (6-5/215)
I never really thought that this position group would be as big as it is. Cantrell and Lauderdale are the obvious constants. They've been commits for a long time. I don't fault Lauderdale for making sure it was the right choice for him. He has to be absolutely sure about his decision and I don't blame him. Cantrell is the guy that catches everything. Literally. I don't know what he's going to morph into, but it's going to be good. I think that Cantrell still talks about playing inside. I have no idea where he'll eventually end up, but if you can catch the football, then you can play. Thompson is productive. I can explain why his Manvel teammates got more offers, but I can't explain why colleges ignored a productive inside receiver that out-performed his Manvel teammates by a lot. Yeah, he's short, but so am I.
Moore is perhaps the heir apparent to Jace Amaro or the guy that is going to line up alongside Amaro and make like hellish for Big 12 defenses. Or maybe Moore is going to be a speed rushing defensive end that this program has not seen. There is lots of talk that Moore is going to move to the defensive side of the ball and Moore has no qualms with that. I think I heard that Moore is already up to 225 or 230.
Williams is a bit of an unknown, but he is a lot like Loller. He isn't a bad player, he's just a forgotten player. He's a year older. But he still caught 90 passes for over 1,100 yards as a senior. Those types of statistics don't just happen overnight. As far as Polite-Bray, I'm still figuring him out, but from what I can tell he has the size to be an outside receiver and the speed. That's where Kingsbury has his focus.
OL Baylen Brown (6-4/295)
OL Cody Hayes (6-5/260)
OL Aaron Bennett (6-6/285)
OL Joshua Outlaw (6-4/285)
OL Poet Thomas (6-5/295)
I never really thought that Kingsbury would be able to sign four offensive linemen, three of which are high schoolers. I am almost positive that Tuberville was really going to focus on the JUCO players to shore up the offensive line. This may be more painful this next year if there are injuries, but long-term, this is the preferable solution unless you are sure that the player is going to start immediately. I really try not to do much hand-wringing with players flipping commitments and Maurice Porter flipped a couple of days ago to Baylor. Porter allegedly has grade issues. I really don't know. But I think that if you look at this as swapping out Outlaw for Porter, then it's a pretty fair trade and Outlaw isn't a grade risk at all. Not to mention, he might be the better prospect. There's really no way to tell and Porter is no slouch, but if given a similar player, I'll take the offensive lineman that has zero grade issues and should qualify easily.
As far as the other players in this group are concerned, I think that Brown is easily the player that could play immediately because I think he'll eventually play inside. I don't know what to think about Hayes in general other than I know that he's a guy that is really athletic and is going to be really good in space. Players his size do not happen all that often and he was apparently being hounded as signing day approached to flip to TCU or Oklahoma.
I don't know what to think about Bennett or Thomas. I think that Thomas is a bit more of a project, as he was dominating in his film, but he was also playing offensive lines that appeared to be in the range of 5-11/235. Thomas was just significantly bigger than anyone that he played last year and for him to not even get an offer from one of the large state schools or even a MAC school makes me scratch my head. Sometimes I don't understand why a player is not being recruited, but a lot of times it makes more sense as the years pass.
With Bennett, he apparently switched to the offensive line halfway through the season this year, so he's going to be raw. His only other offer was maybe New Mexico State, so this is one of those situations where you have to trust the evaluation of a player that doesn't have a lot of film.
DT J.J. Loller (6-3/275)
DE Demetrius Alston (6-4/260)
So this is a pretty thin group, but we all have to keep in mind that last year, the prior staff recruited a handful of defensive line type of players, including Chase Robison, Michael Starts and Anthony Smith. Not a ton of players, but I think this is okay. Then you add in the 2011 class, Kindred Evans, Branden Jackson, Donte Phillips, Delvon Simmons and Dennell Wesley and there is depth there right now. Getting those defensive tackles in 2012 helps a lot and makes this more palatable. Obviously, defensive line will need to be a priority next year. I do believe that recruiting defensive linemen are the toughest thing to recruit. There's only a limited number of players and if you don't get in on them early, then you may not have a legitimate shot.
Alston presents an immediate opportunity to provide some pass rush on the edge. He has the size to play at defensive end right now, whether that be in the 3-4 or the 4-3. It seems like we've talked about Loller for ages. I'm glad he's ready to go and I'd bet that he's a caged tiger at this point and ready to hit someone.
LB Malik Jenkins (6-3/225)
LB Zach Barnes (6-3/225)
LB Kahlee Woods (6-0/232)
LB Jacarthy Mack (6-3/205)
I was always pretty much okay with the linebacker spot and my thought once the commits started to roll in was that the linebackers are bigger. There were three linebackers in the 2011 class and Dees was 234, but Eguavoen was 220 and Cooper was 200. The 2012 class had Ryan Flannigan at 200, Chris Payne at 191, Will Smith at 220, and Kris Williams at 210. Just by looking at the sizes of those players for the 2013 class and I do think there was an intent to recruit players with bigger frames. So in the 2011 and 2012 classes there was just one player that weighed more that 225 pounds as an average of those seven players, it is 210 pounds. This is what Tuberville was going for, speed over size.
In the 2013 class there were three players that were 225 or more and they are going to prom in a few months. The average of these four is 221. I know that 11 pounds difference doesn't sound like all that much, but I think it's pretty significant.
I honestly don't see any of these players playing right now, but that could all change. If I had to guess, I think that Woods has the immediate opportunity as there are not a lot of inside linebackers. I really like the eventual potential of the outside linebackers in Jenkins, Barnes and Mack. Mack obviously needs the most time with his size and I really kinda like Barnes and Jenkins, especially if their size is legitimate
DB Dorian Crawford (6-2/200)
DB Martin Hill (5-11/185)
DB Justis Nelson (6-2/180)
DB Caleb Woodward (6-1/190)
DB Dee Paul (5-11/160)
Apparently DC Matt Wallerstedt thinks that Jalen Barnes is going to be the Big 12 freshman of the year and starting. I'm not so sure. I see a player that is a really good hitter and has some technique issues. I don't know where the staff is going to place Tre Porter or Terrance Bullitt of La'Darius Newbold or some of the other options. These sorts of things take time and maybe I'm being too cautious on how Barnes will play out. I would think that Hill and Crawford will see an opportunity before Barnes, but maybe I'm underestimating Barnes. I am very confident that Woodward, Nelson and Paul are all projects. I don't know where Nelson and Woodward will eventually project, maybe safety over the long-term. I think that Paul, Woodward and Nelson are all really good kids and will work hard no matter the position.
I thought it would be a neat exercise to take a look which coaches were responsible for which players. I don't know how accurate this sort of thing is, but it's fun nonetheless. Here's Kingsbury's Rivals profile, and you can go through each of the profiles for each of the assistant coaches. I should mention that I don't think this is entirely right. I know that all of the coaches worked together on recruiting these players. This is Rivals designations, not mine. With that disclaimer, I still thought it was pretty neat.
Trey Haverty | For Texas Tech alone, Haverty was the main recruiting for Jalen Barnes, Martin Hill, Jacarthy Mack, Gary Moore, Joshua Outlaw, D.J. Polite-Bray and Kahlee Woods. That's really an incredible haul if you think about all of the kids that he probably also laid the groundwork for at TCU. If you thought that this was impressive, just give him a year.
Sonny Cumbie | Cumbie was the glue to this class. Texas Tech most likely keeps very few of the players without Cumbie being retained. He was the bridge and I think he's been a pretty good recruiter on his own. Cumbie was responsible for Dylan Cantrell, Dee Paul and Davis Webb. Kingsbury needed a transition guy, a person that knew who Texas Tech had been targeting and had relationships with and who Texas Tech had been targeting for the 2014 class. Cumbie was that guy.
Matt Wallerstedt | Wallerstedt was the last person on board as far as coaches, so he had the shortest period of time to go out and recruit. The only player on his ledger is Demetrius Alston, but truthfully, Alston and the two JUCO secondary players are the most important players on the defensive side of the ball.
John Scott Jr. | Scott is responsible for Zach Barnes, the lone Georgia recruit that wasn't from King H.S. I never know what to think about Scott, but he has really worked his way up the ladder. He's worked for his alma mater and I'm still not sure as to how Scott has any connections with any of the coaches, but I'd be willing to be that Scott helped work with and for all of the Georgia players.
Kevin Curtis | The two players for Curtis are Martin Hill and Tyler Middleton. I think we're all really excited about the JUCO prospects for both of these players. And don't forget that Curtis was coaching at Navarro a couple of years ago before moving on to Louisiana Tech. You think those connections paid off for Middleton?
Rivals says that Mike Smith, Eric Morris and Mike Jinks weren't the main recruiters for any player in particular, but that's going to change very quickly.