Another award winning VTM Roundtable, where we discuss who will be a household name at the end of the year, players like Mike Mitchell and Breiden Fehoko at Texas Tech and the home game you are most looking forward to attending.
1. Who are the two players that are maybe only known to Texas Tech fans, but will be a household name by the end of the season, one on offense and one on defense?
Mike TTU: For offense, I have to go with DJ Polite-Bray. The public, and probably even a majority of Texas Tech fans, don't really know who DJ is. He signed with Tech on NSD along with Joshua Outlaw and Jacarthy Mack to fill up the recruiting class. He played some last year, but this year, it looks like he'll be starting. With his speed and ability to get open, I expect him to get close to 800-900 yards receiving and 5 or so TDs. No, I'm not crazy. For defense, I'll go with Justis Nelson. He's got great length and should be able to keep up with big receivers as a boundary CB. I don't expect him to be a shutdown corner, because he is a sophomore, but he will get people's attention.
Travis Hale: DJ Polite Bray should be fill a huge gap on offense with the loss of Ward and Amaro and could be a household name by the end of the year. Not only for his play on the field, but also because he has the most awesome name in any household. Nigel Bethel should step in and help a secondary that has made strides, but has never (in recent memory) performed at a high level for a sustained amount of time. He has a chance to be a really special player on defense.
kevinkinsler: Devin Lauderdale and Justin Nelson.
Seth C: I'm going to go off track here and go with DeAndre Washington. I tend to think that he's going to be pretty terrific, especially because he's a smaller back and I think that will play better for Texas Tech until they get an offensive line that can maul a bit better. On defense, no one really knows who Sam Eguavoen is, but I think he'll lead the team in tackles and generally be the leader of the defense. Even if Mitchell is eligible, I think Eguavoen has the smarts and the athletic ability to be special.
DoubleTFaithful:On offense, I'm going to say Quinton White (and this is dependent on how much RB Kenny Williams plays). White is going to bring a different aspect to this Texas Tech running game in his elusiveness. I don't think the incoming freshmen will be play much, if at all, on offense and that's not taking anything from them from a talent standpoint.
On defense, Sam Eguavoen. It's hard to say a 4 year letter at LB is an unknown, but he's quietly grown into his role here at Tech under the various DCs. I think with a second year in the same scheme and his senior leadership, he could have a great senior campaign.
2. Mike Mitchell transfers to Texas Tech. Is the world upside down? What do you make of now two very high profile defensive players, Brieden Fehoko and Mitchell, committing or transferring to Texas Tech?
Mike TTU: Even though I cover recruiting, I was shocked when Fehoko decided to commit and when Mitchell eventually committed. I was expecting us to get a lot of blue chip recruits on the offensive end, but I wasn't expecting to get two Top 50 players on the defensive end. That shows the type of determination this coaching staff has to create a good defense at Texas Tech. I think we could see another 4-star or two commit to this class because of the coaching staff and the addition of Fehoko and Mitchell. Anyway you look at it, there is no doubt that this defense is getting better under Coach Wally and in a couple years, we'll start to see what this defense and it's players are really made of.
Travis Hale: Mike Mitchell transfer is huge, and yes it means the world is officially upside down. Its crazy to think that a team led by an offensive wiz like Kingsbury could actually become known for having a really solid defense. The thing to remember is that as long as teams are employing a spread type offense it will be virtually impossible to field a top 10 defense just due to the nature of play. When offenses score so rapidly, it puts more pressure on the D. With that said, if Tech can develop into a Top 25 defense, it'll be huge. Guys like Mitchell will be the building blocks for that success.
kevinkinsler: Tech may be known for its offense, but that Kliff swagger has kids on both sides of the ball excited about what's being built here. I also wonder in this new world of recruit camps and things that some of the d-side sees the way that Tech is starting to pull higher-end talent on the offense and want to be a part of it.
Seth C: This is exactly the sort of thing that makes okay defenses that much better. You go from just "okay" to "good" and it starts with having players that can elevate a team. The neat thing is that this is largely because of the relationships that those defensive coaches have created, Mike Smith and Matt Wallerstedt. I suppose you could say the same thing about Kevin Curtis and John Scott, Jr. I think they all have to know that the longer they stay together and recruit some real difference makers, it's going to make all of them that much more valuable assistants in the future.
DoubleTFaithful: Yes, the world is upside down and it's because Kingsbury flipped it over on us. Winners want to play with winners and people are starting to see that Kingsbury is a winner. He's starting to pull in great recruits and top recruits want to play with other top recruits. I think we will see a continued uptick in recruiting as well as year end records.
3. Texas Tech plays a terrific home schedule this year, which game are you looking forward to the most and why?
Mike TTU: I'm going to go with the Texas game at home. I was going to pick the Arkansas game, because we don't play them anymore and it's battle of the tempos, but I will be entering my 2nd year at Tech next year and haven't witnessed a UT game yet. Texas hasn't exactly been great the past few years, and with the Texas Tech on the rise, it could be a key victory at home next year. We haven't beaten Texas since that magical night in '08, so we are about due for another victory.
Travis Hale: I'm really excited about the Arkansas game. While Arkansas may not be the juggernaut it once was, it will still be a good barometer to see where this team is pitted up against a solid, mid-level SEC program. And the excitement for UT and OU coming to town is self evident. It's gonna be a great year in Lubbock.
kevinkinsler: Texas... Always the game I circle first on the calendar.
Seth C: That back-to-back weekend of Texas and Oklahoma at Texas Tech is going to be fun, with a bye week to split those two games. It's easy to pick Texas and Oklahoma may have the best team in the Big 12 for yet another year.
DoubleTFaithful: Texas, hands down. It's going to come the week after a trip to Fort Worth. This is the spot in the season where Tech could build some serious momentum or start to see the wheels fall off (although it's the start of the back 1/3 of the season). If Tech gets a big win here in Lubbock in front of a wild crowd, they could build on that when OU comes in next. If not, they've got a bye week to figure things out.