I don't know what got me thinking about this, perhaps it was all of the talk of baseball trades and prospects and the make-up of an organization, but it got me thinking about the make-up Texas Tech's football program and the type of player and team that Coach Leach has assembled.
First, it seems like there are certain trends that we can ascertain from just looking at the type of class and player that Coach Leach recruits. Second, for the purposes of this little exercise I'm just going to focus on the last two or three classes and the current (2008) class, but feel free to expand if you've noticed a trend from the beginning of Leach's tenure to now. Once again, these are just generalizations, so with that being said let's go:
Lots of Defensive Ends: I don't think there's any doubt that Leach loves the defensive end and he likes them in large quantities. Over the last 3 recruiting classes Leach has recruited a number of defensive ends:
- 2006: 4 - Dewayne Baziel, Sean Estelle, Jonathan Hollins and Brandon Williams.
- 2007: 5 - Sam Fehoko, Daniel Howard, David Neill, Brandon Sharpe and Tyrone Sonier.
- 2008: 3 - Broderick Marshall, Joey Fowler and Ryan Haliburton.
So what's the rational? What is Leach's attraction to defensive ends? Part of me thinks that his fascination with the defensive ends is that they are usually pretty good athletes and may be a little more versatile than the standard defensive tackle. There are some defensive ends that are more projectable at one position or another and have the ability to potentially play defensive tackle. Two players that have that type of size that may have the ability to play defensive tackle are David Neill and Joey Fowler and next year's Broderick Marshall, but his fascination with defensive ends and underlying theory that they could be used at other position could explain why Leach has recruited so few defensive tackles over the last year.
Let's also remember that Leach may feel that there's still the possibility that some of these players could also morph into a linebacking position (Fehoko and Sonier are possibilities) or a rush position.
I don't know why I think this, but I think Leach likes guys who are versatile. I don't know that he's ever really given an opinion on the matter, but by just looking at the numbers alone he's recruited 11 defensive ends in the past 3 classes. That's just a lot of players at only 2 positions. It will certainly be something to watch going forward with the 2008 class.
Rangy Wide Receivers: I don't think it's any secret most programs are recruiting receivers much like Texas Tech's and most of the elite high school receivers are over 6 feet. Nevertheless, I think Leach has a definite idea as to the type and number of receivers he's recruited recently.
- 2006: Lyle Leong (6-2); Adam James (6-2); Adrian Reese (6-6); and Michael Crabtree (6-1).
- 2007: Jacob Amie (6-4, but will grayshirt); Jacoby Franks (6-0); Rashad Hawk (6-3); Deton Lewis (6-0) and Tramain Swindall (6-2).
One of the other keys here is that all of these wide outs have decent speed (anywhere between 4.50 to 4.66). I think the days of grabbing 1 or 2 wide outs for each recruiting class are over. Leach will look to fortify his receiving corp each and every year and without a doubt height is a factor when recruiting. Don't get me wrong, if a kid a a ton of talent and he's only 5-10, Leach will take talent over measurables every day, but he's shown that he can be successful with kids that aren't as talented, but are big targets. In other words, as we all know, Leach can succeed with less talent, especially on the offensive end of the ball.
Offensive Linemen in Numbers: Don't get me wrong, it's not that Leach doesn't want quality, but he certainly also wants quantity as well. In 2007 Leach picked up 7 offensive linemen, in 2006 he picked up 7 as well, and in 2005 he picked up 5. Leach mentioned last week that he got his start as an offensive line coach and I don't think there's any doubt that he believes that the key to offensive success begins and ends up front.
Because of the offensive system Leach needs guys who are mobile and not just maulers, although I don't think Leach is necessarily opposed to maulers they just have to be agile as well. I'd like to think that most of these guys are fairly athletic as well and not just piles of human mass.
I think Leach also understands that he can recruit 19 offensive linemen in 3 years and have it all dissipate fairly quickly simply because of program attrition (defections, grades, etc.) but his offense doesn't work without some sort of consistency at the offensive line.
Finally, I think it would also be safe to say that Leach has no issue with guys who haven't seen a ton of game experience, so long as they've been in the system for a year or two. I think getting acclimated to the Air Raid offense is the key to offensive line success, which is why I think you'll continue to see a fairly steady stream of offensive linemen in each recruiting class.
One Quarterback: For 4 straight seasons, 2005 through 2008, Leach has signed 1 quarterback for each class (in 2004 he signed Harrell and Robert Johnson) and I would expect that tradition to continue from this point forward. Although I can't climb into the head of Coach Leach, I'd have to imagine that a quarterback is more valuable to him the longer he's been in the system.
We talked about this with the offensive linemen above, but it's even more true with the quarterback. The more repetitions the quarterback sees the more success the quarterback will have. Leach has proven this theory with a string of one year quarterbacks who have had a tremendous amount of success. Much has been made of the return of Harrell, and I for one am excited that he'll be able to start more than 1 season, but the reality is that he's setting himself up to have 1 quarterback for 1 year for quite some time. Excluding Potts, who will start 2 years if all goes according to plan, but Loucks and Doege will each have one year at the helm.
I also think that at some point, Leach probably believes that 1 quarterback is plenty, but any more than that is a waste of a scholarship, especially if a quarterback is signed, and stays with the team, each year.
In other words, there's no need to use a scholarship on a player, at a position, where said player won't be used or is simply unnecessary.
I know I'm missing a ton of subtleties in the type of player Coach Leach is recruiting and the ones I mentioned above are fairly obvious so feel free to add your own.
I certainly think it's interesting to note how Coach Leach has evolved over the years and those of you with better backgrounds in the recruiting aspect, please feel free to add to the commentary.