I emailed Tim MacMahon of the Dallas Morning News earlier in the week and inquired if he would be willing to answer a couple of questions regarding this year's recruiting class. Tim graciously accepted. I want to personally thank Tim for taking the time to answer some questions for our community.
1. How would you rate Texas Tech's recruiting class in relation to the rest of the Big 12 South division?
Rivals.com, the recruiting Web site used by the DMN, ranks Tech's class fifth in the Big 12 South and No. 49 in the nation. You can see what Mike Leach thinks about those rankings in my Tech recruiting capsule in Thursday's paper. Tech did an impressive job of filling three major need areas - OL, DL and WR - with quality players.
2. Which 2 or 3 commitments do you believe could make the biggest impact in 2007?
I posted on our Recruiting Buzz blog that WRs Jacob Amie and Detron Lewis should make a difference right away. As all Tech fans know, Leach's offense relies on a ton of receivers. These guys are physically mature enough to compete against Big 12 secondaries next season. Juco CB De'Shon Sanders will be a disappointment if he doesn't replace Antonio Huffman in the starting lineup.
3. Which 2 or 3 commitments do you believe will have the biggest impact at the end of their tenure at Texas Tech?
I'll stick with the receivers here and add a few offensive linemen, the group I wrote about for Thursday's paper. Lonnie Edwards (6-5, 315) and Blake Emert (6-5, 275) are the highest-rated OL in the class, but OL coach Jack Bicknell Jr. is drooling over the potential of raw 6-7, 338-pounder Dominique Delpeche.
5. On the defensive side of the ball, Tech signed a number of defensive ends, including the Hawaii Gatorade player of the year, are the coaches planning on converting some of these players to linebackers, and possibly running a 3-4 at times?
Sam "Hawaiian Punch" Fehoko - should my made-up nickname stick or no? - and Tyrone Sonier are also guys I blogged about Wednesday. Tech's coaches will tinker with these guys at linebacker and defensive end. Leach wishes they could have played Keyunta Dawson some at linebacker, but Tech didn't have the DE depth to do it. Those guys remind Leach of Dawson - explosive pass-rushers off the edge who also have the ability to play in space. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Tech play some 3-4 in the future.
6. Tech suffered quite a bit of attrition on the defensive line this year due to graduation, are Agoucha or Whitlock good enough to play this year and if not, who would you project as players to watch this spring?
Quite frankly, Tech might be forced to tinker with the 3-4 because of the lack of ready-to-go DTs. Freshman Dan'Tay Ward's departure really hurt. Agoucha and Whitlock have the size to play right away, but my understanding is that Agoucha is pretty raw. Whitlock is your best bet. He's a wrestler, meaning he understands how to use leverage, and post up eye-popping stats in high school. (I feel obligated to note here that Oklahoma high school football can't compare to Texas.)
7. Not one linebacker in the entire class and now Tech fans will be subjected to Kellen Tillman not making plays for the Red Raiders for yet another year, who are some of the other viable options at linebacker?
Leach compared Bront Bird, a 6-4, 201-pound Odessa Permian product listed as a DB, to Tech-ex John Saldi. Expert Bird to be a LB. Fehoko and Sonier could also end up there, either on a full- or part-time basis.
8. Offensive line was also decimated by graduating players, could you give an early season projection of the starting 5 linemen for next year?
LT - Marlon Winn; LG - Louis Vasquez; C - Shawn Byrnes; RG - Brandon Carter; RT - Chris Olson. Rylan Reed, who weighs 317 now, could beat out Olson. Ofa Mohetau, the most talented OL on the team, will compete with Carter if he gets his grades up. Josh Aleman will get a shot at center. Edwards is the freshman most likely to get playing time.
9. We've heard a lot about Michael Crabtree, is he as great as everyone says that he is, and do L.A. Reed or Adrian Reese have a similar break-out potential?
Crabtree, a kid I covered a lot in football and basketball while he was at Carter High, is a phenomenal athlete. This kid could break all the Tech receiving records by the time he's done. Leach told me before the bowl that he L.A. Reed reminded him a lot of Joel Filani toward the end of his sophomore year. That, of course, is a huge compliment. Reese will have a bigger role next season, but I don't think he'll have the impact of Crabtree or Reed.
10. Where do you see Bront Bird and Taylor Charbonnet eventually fitting in on this team?
I discussed Bird as a potential LB earlier. I see Charbonnet as a slot receiver. Not saying he'll match Wes Welker's production, but that's who I'd compare Charbonnet to.
11. If you had to compare Stefan Loucks to one of the fairly recent Texas Tech quarterbacks (Kingsbury, Symons, Cumbie, Hodges or Harrell) which one would it be and why.
Definitely Harrell. Loucks is a guy that put up huge numbers (Arkansas-record 13,701 yards and 147 TDs) in a pass-happy high school offense. He's not a real tall guy and doesn't have a gun, but he can make all the throws with good touch and has a great understanding of the spread offense.
13. Who do you see as the potential sleepers of this class, the kid who wasn't recruited as heavily, but might emerge to be a special player for Tech?
We discussed Dominique Delpeche above. Bront Bird also fits here. So does WR Jacoby Franks, a kid who played some QB at a Class 3A school. They're all redshirt candidates who are probably a few years away from contributing.
14. Tech is coming off of one of, if not the most, exciting bowl game in NCAA history, can Texas Tech fans expect an improvement on their 8-5 record or should Red Raiders brace themselves for a disappointing 2007?
I see Tech as an eight- or nine-win team next season. Anything better than that is wishful thinking for a team that will be extremely inexperienced on the offensive and defensive lines.