Red Raider Gridiron | Texas Tech National Signing Day Analysis

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Tech Red Raiders have signed their committed players and we dive into some post-National Signing Day Analysis.

The Texas Tech Red Raider and Kliff Kingsbury have signed their 2014 recruiting class and MikeTTU and Seth C analyze the class and break down the class: top five commits on offense and defense and National Signing Day Superlatives.

There were only a few minor surprises with Texas Tech's 2014 Football Class, which included Michael Coley committing to Texas Tech and Jamarcus Howard not signing a letter of intent. Coley is a 6-2/185 athlete from Irving HS (Irving, TX).

Texas Tech's 2014 recruiting class is heavy on defensive backs and JUCO players. There are eight JUCO players that are signed up, with three on the defensive line, Brandon Thorpe, Marcus Smith and Rika Levi, and two on the offensive line, Dominique Robertson and Shaquille Davis.

2014 Top Five Commits and Signing Day Superlatives

Top Five Texas Tech Commits

MikeTTU: My top 3 for this class is pretty obvious. The raw Patrick Mahomes has a powerful arm and with the right coach (we have the perfect one in Kingsbury), he can succeed as a passing juggernaut in the Big XII. Ian Sadler is the Mr-do-it-all, using cuts, burst of speed and good route running to make defenses catch their breath. The flashy Justin Stockton has a deadly speed with quick acceleration, and if he finds the right hole, he could take on to the house. My final 2 are offensive linemen. JUCO Dominique Robertson has the ability to make an impact on the roster, bringing in experience, a powerful burst, and the right mindset coming in. Robert Castaneda has really improved the last year, looking great on his feet, being able to push back or pull linemen and having huge body frame to go with it.

For defense, I start out my Top 5 with the only DE. The big DE Brandon Thorpe is a quick linemen that uses his speed to lay hard hits on opposing players and tackles. Hard hitting LB Dakota Allen can rush, drop back, or take out the opposition, displaying a balance of acceleration and strength. Big time CB Nigel Bethel II has good closeout speed and can press with the best, even if he’s "undersized". JUCO S Josh Keys has the length to guard big wideouts while also using being able to play on all 4-downs. Finally, the versatile Payton Hendrix uses his crazy athleticism and football smarts to play anywhere on the field.

Seth C:

Offense:

  1. WR Ian Sadler: Just a phenomenal athlete in just about every respect. Adding in his return ability is just an added bonus.
  2. QB Patrick Mahomes: In such a short amount of time at quarterback, he's one of the best in the state of Texas.
  3. RB Justin Stockton: Few players in the state of Texas can match what Stockton did as a running back. Huge play after huge play.
  4. WR Devin Lauderdale: He was the best commit in last year's class and he's back again.
  5. OL Dominique Robertson: Of the two JUCO offensive line commits, I think Robertson is the best and most ready to contribute right now. Need to shore up that tackle spot if Fortenberry doesn't receive a medical redshirt.

Defense:

  1. CB Nigel Bethel II: The only Rivals 4-star player in the class and could be an elite player at a huge position of need.
  2. S Josh Keys: With both starting safeties graduating, Keys could step in right away and take one of those safety spots.
  3. DT Rika Levi: Levi almost has to be on the two-deep, just based off of graduation. Potentially a huge impact next year.
  4. S Payton Hendrix: Depending on how he grows as a player, he could play multiple positions. Elite athlete.
  5. S Derrick Dixon: If Dixon were two inches taller he would be a four-star player. Perhaps the best play-maker in the class.

Best Athlete

MikeTTU: WR Ian Sadler – He did it all in High School, from receiving, to punt returns, to rushing, even passed the ball sometimes. I bet if he wanted to he could go out there and play CB. He’s that athletic. I think there is a good chance he won’t be redshirted next year just because of what he can do. If he doesn’t get any playing time at the IR position, he could play on special teams somewhere (Carlos Thompson did that last year before leaving the team). Excited to see what this white dynamite can do wearing the Double T next year.

Seth C: WR Ian Sadler - I think this has to be Ian Sadler. Maybe not in the traditional sense, in that he's the fastest or strongest, or anything like that, but he's the best athlete. I can't recall what I was listening to, but apparently Sadler has already had the chance to go professional to play soccer, he's that good at soccer, and he's really just getting started at football. I have no doubt in my mind that Sadler has a unique understanding of spacing that not a lot of other players have, but aside from that, he's a guy that is smooth as the day is long.

Most Important

MikeTTU: QB Patrick Mahomes - With Davis Webb now being the only scholarship quarterback on the roster, the addition of Mahomes looks crucial. Webb has a lengthy body, and if he gets hit low and goes down, that would call another QB in. If Mahomes weren't signing here, that would be Tanner Tausch, JUCO walk-on QB. Mahomes bring a different element of speed to the QB position and a valuable back-up behind Webb and eventual starter on the team if all goes well. The Kaepernick like QB has to be the most important player in this class.

Seth C: QB Patrick Mahomes - With the depth issues currently on this team, Mahomes will be one of two scholarship quarterbacks on the team, which might make him the second best quarterback on the roster as of Wednesday. Mahomes ability to be drafted will certainly be a consideration for him personally, but if he can look past the ability to play professional baseball right now, he'll have the ability to be tutored by the best quarterback coach in America and he can still pitch for Texas Tech if he wants. The general lack of depth at this position, and as much as the depth has been an issue at defensive line, the Mahomes commitment and him sticking with it, is the most important.

Most Under the Radar

MikeTTU: OT Justin Murphy – When Tech fans, or anyone else, looks over this class, they tend to forget about Justin Murphy sometimes. He won’t start right away like some of these recruits, but he’s got a big frame at 6’6" 275lbs and has some good technique to go with it. With some good practices and strength training, he could become a monster in the Big XII. A guy to keep an eye on in a few years.

Seth C: LB Dakota Allen - Going back and watching additional film of Allen and looking at his measurables, it's strange that he's not getting more attention from the recruiting services. I think he's under the radar because he's the lone linebacker that's a part of this class and I really haven't seen him mentioned as being a guy that's really been offered by some quality programs, TCU, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Kansas St, Iowa St. and Illinois. That's even after Allen committed in August. Allen is the middle linebacker that I envision for this team in the future. A big, rangy guy that can get up and down the sidelines with some excellent size that can take on linemen.

Immediate Impact on Offense

MikeTTU: OT Dominque Robertson – With the loss of multiple Offensive linemen this class, this was a huge get for Texas Tech. He played outstanding with some of the best JUCO recruits in the state of California, manhandling the competition on his outstanding highlight tape. He was my favorite OT to look at. With Fortenberry looking like he’s done (could come back with medical redshirt), he will have a good shot at the starting OT position protecting Davis Webb next season. Watch out for Robertson on the O-line

Seth C: WR Devin Lauderdale - Just makes sense that Lauderdale has the best opportunity, with the graduation of Eric Ward and Jace Amaro off to the NFL, there’s an open spot at some receiver. He has the size and shiftiness to play inside and he has the flat out speed to play outside. Lauderdale was the highest rated recruit in last year’s class and it makes sense that with a year of seasoning at the JUCO level, he’s ready go go. When Lauderdale committed, I wasn’t sure that he was really ready because his Bellaire team was hardly a passing team. Now, Lauderdale has a chance to shine.

Immediate Impact on Defense

MikeTTU: DT Rika Levi – I didn’t mention him in my top 5, but he’s right up there with Brandon Thorpe. With the loss of Wesley, Bush and Hyder on the DL, Texas Tech needs help at the DT/NT spot. Levi will likely be in the two deep at the nose tackle position, if not the starter. With Levi’s big 350lb frame, opposing linemen and RBs will struggle getting through this monstrous pile. Look out for the big man on opening day.

Seth C: DT Rika Levi - This is one of those "duh" moments. It almost has to be Levi, Smith, Thorpe or McElrath and I’m banking on the highest rated guy at the biggest position of need. My other option was Josh Keys because I almost feel that he’s got as clear as shot as Levi, but I think that Levi is a bit closer to either being the first team or second team the minute he shows up on campus. I’m almost sure with Keys that will be the case, but Levi is the better bet. Levi is a two-gap lineman with strength to create offensive issues because of that size. Even if he only gets 20 to 30 plays a game initially, I consider it a huge immediate impact.

Brightest Future

MikeTTU: S Payton Hendrix – With the lack of secondary players returning next year, Hendrix looks like he has a good shot to crack the two deep roster (Keys will be listed ahead of him). However, with Hendrix’s athletic ability and football smarts, he should play fast and make himself known in the Big XII. He will be a presence in the future, using strength and speed to be a successful safety. I believe he has the ability to be drafted in the NFL and make an NFL roster.

Seth C: Nigel Bethel II - I'm trying to think of the last elite cornerback Texas Tech signed and I just can't think of one right off the top of my head. I think it will take a year to adjust, but Bethel represents something that Texas Tech usually doesn't sign, which is a lock-down cornerback. The past few years, this team has held the cornerback spot together with duct tape and JUCO players and former walk-ons.

Biggest Surprise Signee

MikeTTU: Nigel Bethel II – There is no doubt that Bethel II is the biggest surprised. If you say otherwise, you’re either a mind reader or a time traveler. I’m going to guess you’re not. Nigel was committed to Miami for the longest time, but visited here during the Texas State game. I stopped looking at him around mid-October because nothing was happening and he looked committed. Curtis kept on him though and caused him to flip early January, a shocker to us all, especially myself. He has incredible speed and can press like an iron, and his impact will be made quickly.

Seth C: S Payton Hendrix - Just not even on my radar in terms of a guy that Texas Tech was even going to sign and Texas Tech did sign him. Hendrix is the type of player that could maybe play in a handful of different spots, from safety to linebacker, to maybe even a stand-up defensive end. I truly think that the possibilities with Hendrix are endless. And Hendrix was thought, at least according to that Crystal Ball thing, to be 75% going to Notre Dame and the other 25% to Arkansas. Just love that Texas Tech swept in and grabbed a kid that everyone thought was headed to Notre Dame.

2014 Class MVP

MikeTTU: RB Justin Stockton – The class MVP according the majority would be Justin Stockton, a 4-star RB with 4.35 speed that accelerates like a freight train without an emergency brake. He cuts great, finds the holes, and can carry the load for a game. With the youngest RB on the roster being Quinton White, he should be able to start at his junior year if not sooner. He’ll be a force to be reckoned with, either make a clean tackle or watch him burn rubber.

Seth C: RB Justin Stockton - I get the feeling that Stockton was the class MVP because he was maybe the ringleader. Stockton committed over a year ago. Think about that. Stockton committed on January 18, 2013 and now he’s at the end of his journey. Stockton was the rock for this class. The guy that never wavered throughout the process and there’s really something to be said for that. Oh yea, and he’s crazy good. Good enough to garner offers from Oklahoma, Baylor and UCLA after his commitment (I think). Stockton averaged 12 yards a carry. That’s pretty awesome.

Projected 2014 Class MVP:

MikeTTU: S Payton Hendrix – My class MVP will probably have to be Payton Hendrix. When I heard about the commit at the end of 2013, I thought he was an average DB that stumbled in a Double T helmet, but obviously he’s not. He has the measurables and smarts to play at a high level in the Big XII. Being a huge fan of the secondary, I look forward to Hendrix lighting up Longhorns, flattening Sooners, bulldozing Bears and picking off Cowboys for years to come.

Seth C: QB Patrick Mahomes - Four years from now, I think we'll be talking about how special Mahomes is as a player. I think he's going to be that good. You just don't see that combination of size and athleticism at the quarterback spot. He's not a perfect prospect now, but I think he's going to be terrific in the long-term.

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