So far in this mini-series, we've talked about what I think head coach Kliff Kingsbury's plan it, what is makeup and now we're going to get to what I think the coaching staff is identifying players with a high ceiling and upside.
When I think about high upside or high ceiling, I immediately turn to QB commit Patrick Mahomes. Just about every scouting report says the same thing, which is that he is very good, has a lot of physical tools, but is far from a finished product. In other words, the athleticism is there, the measurables are there in that he's 6-3 and already almost 200 pounds. He is the son of a major league player and so he knows the hard work and dedication that it takes to go to the next level. But he is still so far from being a starting Big 12 quarterback. He's got a lot of refinement in his throwing motion, how he scrambles, how he needs to keep his head up looking for receivers, etc.
Mahomes has the potential to be absolutely great if he fills out even more, works on his technique and be an even more dominant player. That may not happen for a couple of years, but if does happen, then it has the opportunity to pay off significantly more than a player that is essentially a complete player right now.
Or, Mahomes could not work out at all in that he doesn't improve his technique, can't focus down the field when pressured, and makes too many mistakes. When a player that might be more on the safe side, you could say that the player might not be able to do as much athletically as Mahomes, but he also might be able to come in and contribute or compete immediately.
The thing is though that Mahomes has only played one year of quarterback. One year.
That's the upside. That's the high ceiling. That's the risk.
You can somewhat go down the list of these commits. WR Ian Sadler focused more on soccer than he did on football until last year. Most likely, football was something to fill the time between soccer, but he actually put some effort into football as a junior and was spectacular in really just one season playing football full time. Not only that, but an ACL tear after his junior year may have led Sadler to go a bit unnoticed by a lot of programs.
L.J. Collier is an athletic freak, who comes from a family that played at college football, including Oklahoma. Collier's biggest isssue, which does affect ratings, is that mentally, he's not where he should be. I don't know exactly what that means, perhaps it is on the field or off the field, but either way, given all of the physical tools, he still has some mental hurdles to get over in order to be the dominant player everyone thinks he'll be.
Jakari Dillard is the son of a former Oklahoma defensive tackle, Stacey Dillard. As a junior, Dillard stood 6-4/185. There's no way in Hades that he's close to being done in terms of growth, but Dillard is all-in at Texas Tech and if he grows into where his father played in the NFL, at 6-5/290, then Dillard may be that absolutely rare athlete like Gary Moore that could eventually take over where a guy like TE Jace Amaro will eventually be leaving. Most likely, Dillard has a long ways before he's even close to being a finished project.
This isn't at all to say that I think that every single one of Texas Tech's players are high ceiling players that aren't quite finished prospects. That's the nature of recruiting and being in high school and trying to scout 16 and 17 year old players. Even then, I don't think that this is a coincidence either.
I do think that with a lot of these skill position type of players that it is absolutely intentional to focus on players that have a bit of a ways to go and have the ability to be significant impact players. Let's also not forget the thought that three of the four players listed here are children of players who played in college, MLB or the NFL. I go back to the word makeup, but this is part of the makeup for a player, not just those genetics, but getting to that highest level of competition takes an extra gear. I'm guessing that the coaching staff hopes that's the case.
The scary part is that some of these types of things could absolutely fall on their face, in which case you have a player that doesn't turn out the way that you hoped, but the thought is that, as briefly discussed with Mahomes, is that they grow as a player, physically, mentally, etc. and become such a special player that the recruiting prognosticators got it wrong and that it was worth it to take the chance.