Five Things is a handful (i.e., five) of thoughts about a single topic. Hopefully, discussion ensues.
I think this thought is a tad bit ridiculous, but there just seems to be a ton of options at the receiver position, and I'm hoping that we can hopefully work though the options at receiver and clarify who's going to see significant reps at receiver.
I think most everyone knows the story of Edward Britton's classroom spring struggles (i.e. sitting at a desk on the field in the snow while everyone else practices) but considering the current options at the X position, I think that Britton is by far the best option available. At the end of the spring, Britton's competition at this position was Adrian Reese, Rashad Hawk and Brik Brinker. Of all of the receiver position, this seems to be the least deep of the four, although I would bet that if push came to shove and Britton was injured, I think you'd see someone else, possibly Jacoby Franks or Alex Torres flip over here (probably Franks). Of Britton's backups, I like Hawk's potential the best, but thus far, he's had a tough time getting on the field. Hawk is as skinny and as tall as he's listed (6-4/188) and has a tremendous amount of potential, but thus far, he hasn't put it together just yet. Reese is another guy that has a ton of potential, but again, just hasn't been able to put it together. I'm sure that this is partly because he's really been a player without a position, and I like that the coaching staff is making attempts at getting him on the field. I too think that he could be a nice option in and around the endzone, especially at 6-7, but in the past, Reese has not shown the ability to consistently get open or make tough catches, which is one of the reasons why I think he red-shirted last year. During the spring game, I thought that Reese struggled a bit to get off the line of scrimmage and separate himself although this wouldn't matter as much along the goal line where he would essentially just post-up in the endzone.
Is anyone going to call me crazy if I think that Tramain Swindall is my candidate for break-out player of the year. I know, he had 46 catches last year so it's not like he's a complete unknown, but this year he should be the guy at the H receiver position taking over for Eric Morris. Again, he's not the typical H receiver in that he's got some good size (6-2/175) and he's a little different than what Texas Tech has previously had at this position. Cornelius Douglas should see plenty of time as Swindall's backup. Douglas is one of those guys that had a little trouble holding on to passes during the spring game, but he he's got a ton of talent, is incredibly shifty, has really good speed and should be a real asset at this position. Adam James, who didn't get much ink during the spring, returns as the blocking H receiver, although I really like what he could bring from this position on a full-time basis.
If there's one receiver that has a strangle-hold on any one position, it's Detron Lewis. Lewis is not the athlete that Michael Crabtree is, but I have no doubt that Lewis has the ability to be a special player, although like most players like Lewis, it's not a matter of talent, it's really a question of consistency. Really though, I have no doubt that Lewis will answer most, if not all of those questions in 2009. I'm really comfortable with Lewis being a leader on this team. Of course with Lewis being "the guy" at Y, it conceivably leaves little room for Austin Zouzalik to be a significant player for the Red Raiders. Zouzalik is a former high school quarterback who redshirted last year is supposedly one of the fastest players on the team and displayed the ability to catch just about everything during the spring. I'm not trying to over-rate Zouzalik, but the truth of the matter is if there's a guy that could play just about any position it's Zouzalik and I get the feeling that had he played receiver in high school, he would have been a 3-star receiver rather than getting signed late with Texas Tech. Yep, I think he's that good. Blake Kelley is the last option here and if he's seeing significant time here, then something has gone horribly wrong. Not a knock against Kelley, but there's a ton receiving talent on this Texas Tech team.
Perhaps the most important position is the position most up in the air. With the graduation of Michael Crabtree, there really hasn't been just one guy that's jumped up and grabbed the opportunity. Alexander Torres received quite a bit of spring attention, but I don't know if he's the game-breaker that I'd like to see at this position. Of course other receivers excelled at the Z position without being true game-breakers, but he's really solid. Lyle Leong should be the guy that takes over this fall, but he was injured during the spring and so there was opportunity for guys to surpass Leong. Leong played with Taylor Potts, catches everything thrown his way, however, he's been a little bit injury prone and he's not the best physical specimen. Jacoby Franks is another guy that should get some real opportunity here. Franks is one of those guys who looks the part with legitimate size (6-1/194) and speed (4.5) and personally, along with Swindall, is one of the guys that I'm personally cheering for his year. Eric Ward is actually a 2009 signee that walked onto campus during the spring and there was a lot of expectation that Ward would be a guy that could play immediately because he was a 4-star receiver with a ton of hype. Ward's case should show us that it's not always about talent because I have no doubt that he has what it takes, but repetitions and learning the Air Raid system is not something that should be overlooked when we talk about true freshmen making an impact with this offense. It takes time and I have no doubt that Ward is going to be a special player for Texas Tech.
These guys don't get a ton of attention and this isn't going to be an essay on the blocking receivers for Texas Tech, but I thought they at least needed a mention as they are the unsung group of guys who get the job done blocking in the AirRaid offense. Ryan Hale is probably the best known blocker, along with receiver Adam James. The difference between the two is that James is a much better and smoother receiving threat, but Hale is the better, more punishing blocker. Omar Castillo was moved to tight end during the spring, after spending time at the offensive line last year. I didn't notice Castillo much during the spring game, but he was on the field after the game and if there is one guy that's an absolute physical specimen on this team it's Castillo. I have no idea why Castillo hasn't been able to find a position and stick thus far, but the guy is a legitimate 6-6/270 with very little body fat. I have no expectations from Castillo this year and anything that he can give you would be gravy, but if he could eventually give you a legitimate receiving threat at the goal line, all the while being a devastating blocker, sign me up.