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2007 Review and Preview: Texas Tech Defensive Linemen

Prior Reviews/Previews:

Who Is Gone:

No. Player Pos. Ht./Wt.
51 Dek Bake DT 6-5/272
96 Keyunta Dawson DE 6-3/254
93 Chris Hudler NT 6-2/292
92 Seth Nitschmann DE 6-4/256
99 Ken Scott DT 6-2/312

The group that has graduated was just okay. I never thought that there was ever a tremendous amount of push on the quarterback, or game changing stops on the line of scrimmage. Dawson was by far and away the most talented of the group and depending on his weight, he could play at an end position in the NFL or outside linebacker. All of them had their moments, but this unit's biggest strength was the depth. This is not the case anymore. Let's check out the returning players.

Who Returns:

No. Name Pos. Yr. Exp. Ht./Wt. Comment
85 Sean Estelle DE Fr. RS 6-2/240 Expected to contribute.
94 Phillip Jones DE So. 1V 6-4/242 Played 4 games, should be in rotation.
98 Jake Ratliff DE Jr. 2V 6-8/250 Starter.
84 Brandon Williams DE So. 1V 6-3/243 Played 12 games, will start.
58 Tyler Yenzer DE Sr. 2V 6-4/244 Expected to contribute.
68 Britton Barbee DL Fr. RS 6-2/270 Expected to contribute.
60 Rajon Henley DL So. 1V 6-3/258 Played 11 games, will be in rotation.
90 Brian Jones DT So. 1V 6-2/292 Expected to contribute
94 Richard Jones DL So. 1V 6-2/275 Should start.
86 Clint Stoffels DT Fr. RS 5-11/248 Preferred walk-on.
- Jess Thomison DT Fr. HS 6-2/255 From what I can tell, was a center in HS

That's only 9 returning players on the entire roster dedicated to the defensive line (I'm not counting two walk-ons as far as Tech's depth). That's scary. Not to mention, few of these players have any sort of experience. Part of the problem is the transfer of Dan'Tay Ward and the other problem is just not recruiting suitable replacements. Well, let me refrain, it's not that the returning players might not be suitable, but with most things in life, the more players you take at a certain position the more likely those players will be successful (this all assumes that the players taken are comparable in terms of talent. I hope and pray that none of them get hurt between now and the start of practice. Tech can ill afford any sort of injury.

New Recruits:

Player Post. Ht. Wt. Comment
Sam Fehoko DE 6-2 220 High hopes that he can contribute as a rush end/linebacker.
Daniel Howard DE 6-3 240 As JUCO, should be in the rotation.
David Neill DE 6-5 244 Could contribute, lined up inside in HS as well.
Brandon Sharpe DE 6-4 240 As JUCO, should be in the rotation.
Tyrone Sonier DE 6-2 225 Has the speed to be a true rush end or standup linebacker.
Bobby Agoucha DT 6-4 300 Has the size contribute, but may not be ready.
Colby Whitlock DT 6-3 290 Has the size and ability to contribute immediately.

I don't have any reason to believe this, but I'm excited about a couple of things from this group. The first thing that I like is the size of the two defensive linemen. I love the fact that Tech was able to nab two big run-stopping defensive tackles. The second thing that I'm excited about is the speed and play making ability of the defensive ends. I am so impressed by Sonier's speed and seeing the film on Fehoko just make play after play makes me drool a little bit. I don't know as much about Neill, but his height suggests that he could put on quite a bit more weight and be a more traditional defensive end (playing weight of 260 or 270).

Defensive End Projections:

  • 2007
    1. Brandon Williams, So.
    2. Jake Ratliff, Jr.
    3. Phillip Jones, So.
    4. Brandon Sharpe, Jr.
    5. Daniel Howard, Jr.
    6. Tyler Yenzer, Sr.
  • 2008
    1. Brandon Williams, Jr.
    2. Jake Ratliff, Sr.
    3. Phillip Jones, Jr.
    4. Brandon Sharpe, Sr.
    5. Daniel Howard, Sr.
    6. Sean Estelle, So.
  • 2009
    1. Brandon Williams, Sr.
    2. Phillip Jones, Sr.
    3. Sean Estelle, Jr.
    4. Tyrone Sonier, So.
    5. Sam Fehoko, So.
    6. David Neill, So.
  • 2010
    1. Sean Estelle, Sr.
    2. Tyrone Sonier, Jr.
    3. Sam Fehoko, Jr.
    4. David Neill, Jr.

I have a hard time placing Estelle, Sharpe and Howard. I keep thinking that there had to have been a reason why Leach and Co. signed two defensive ends rather than two defensive tackles. Obviously, the issue here is depth, but I have to wonder if Leach even likes the players behind Williams and Ratliff. The more logical response is that Leach plans on rotating 4 or 5 guys the whole season, hoping to find some combinations that he likes and that's probably the case. Long term, I think that Estelle, Sonier, Fehoko and Neill provide a nice base of players to build.

Defensive Tackle:

  • 2007
    1. Richard Jones, So.
    2. Rojan Henley, So.
    3. Brian Jones, So.
    4. Britton Barbee, Fr.
    5. Colby Whitlock, Fr.
    6. Bobby Agoucha, Fr.
  • 2008
    1. Richard Jones, Jr.
    2. Henley Rojan, Jr.
    3. Brian Jones, Jr.
    4. Britton Barbee, So.
    5. Colby Whitlock, So.
    6. Bobby Agoucha, So.
  • 2009
    1. Richard Jones, Sr.
    2. Henley Rojan, Sr.
    3. Brian Jones, Sr.
    4. Britton Barbee, Jr.
    5. Colby Whitlock, Jr.
    6. Bobby Agoucha, Jr.
  • 2010
    1. Britton Barbee, Sr.
    2. Colby Whitlock, Sr.
    3. Bobby Agoucha, Sr.
    4. Jess Thomison, Sr.
    5. Clint Stoffels, Sr.

I love Richard Jones (who doesn't) I'm hoping and praying that neither Whitlock or Agoucha (more Agoucha) see the field this year. I can't help but think that Leach looked at the depth chart at the beginning of the recruiting process and he told himself that he didn't need any defensive line help. Why? The only logical explanation is that he plans on running the 3-4 much more than we may believe. I know, it's idiotic for me to say this, but just look at the depth. There are 4 returning defensive tackles. How is Tech going to practice? On the other hand, take a look at the number of defensive ends. There are 7 defensive ends (this includes 2 JUCO's) who may see some quality time at some sort of linebacker position because Tech is diving head-first into the 3-4 defense. I may be completely wrong on all of this, but in my head I just can't justify the lack of depth and the current scheme.

The spring practices will tell us a lot. Other things to look for, moving 2007 offensive line recruit, Omar Castillo, to defensive tackle. He played DT in high school and he's got great size for a defensive tackle (although he may be a little tall, but that doesn't bother me too much).