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Texas Tech Depth Chartin' :: The Defensive Line

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Previously on Texas Tech Depth Chartin' :: The Quarterbacks :: The Running Backs :: The Receivers :: The Offensive Line ::

Overall: It's well documented that the Red Raiders are losing the main punch of their pass rush and Tommy Tuberville is changing the defense (although it may not be as dramatic as some may think). The losses along the defensive line in are at defensive end, and this unit is essentially at the same place it was when Brandon Sharpe and Daniel Howard stepped on campus. This unit has three JUCO defensive linemen that everyone hopes and prays makes a difference along the line. If not, there's going to be some young players that will need step-up and become main players.

I should mention that I'm guessing on a lot of this stuff. It's hard to get into Tuberville's head in terms of what I think of a typical 3-4 defense and what Tuberville may decide to run. I'm accustomed to watching the Dallas Cowboys, where they have players like Demarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer playing outside linebacker. Tuberville may favor smaller faster outside linebackers rather than the pass-rushing types. There's also the thought that the change to the 3-4 defense won't be as dramatic in that Tuberville will also play plenty of the old 4-3 defense.

I think what you'll see at the end of the day is a very versatile defense that can do a lot of things. As I was trying to place players at new positions, I was excited about the large number of players that could see the field this year. I should also admit that this was a pretty tough assignment, which is why it's taken so long.

Nose Tackle

Player Ht/Wt Year Probable Role
Colby Whitlock 6-2/287 SR Starter
Myles Wade 6-2/340 JR First Backup
Britton Barbee 6-2/296 SR Second Backup
Coby Coleman 6-3/290 FR Redshirt

Who Is Gone: Victor Hunter.  God speed sir.

Who Is Still Around: Colby Whitlock: There's a couple of theories behind a nose tackle in the 3-4. The first theory is a huge immovable object (see Myles Wade) and the second theory is a quick and strong nose tackle that can simply beat opposing players with strength and quickness. Whitlock fits the second type player, although I think he eventually gets drafted as a 4-3 tackle, he'll be just fine in this role. Whitlock is one of the few players that I'm absolutely certain about in the depth chart.

Myles Wade: For those of you who don't remember Wade's story, here's the Cliff Notes version. Wade was a high school All-American, didn't qualify to get into Oregon, went to a JUCO, his mom passed away from brain cancer, and now he's made his way out to Lubbock. Wade's measurements are truly scary because guys with his frame shouldn't be as mobile and as strong as he is. Wade is the proto-typical nose tackle in the 3-4 defense, and he saw playing time last year, but towards the end of the year, that started to fade. Nevertheless, Wade has talent and I think he should be able to step-in behind Whitlock relatively easily.

Britton Barbee: I'm not what to make of Barbee. I think Barbee is a smart person and he's the one guy that I tend to watch from the stands as he seems to always pumping up his teammates. I have no idea if he can actually play, but maybe with a coaching change he gets his chance. We'll know more about Barbee after the spring game, but in trying to find a spot for him in the roster, this is where I end up.

Coby Coleman: Coleman shouldn't see a minute of playing time this year, but from watching Coleman's film, he is absolutely the type of player that should develop into a real player for Texas Tech in a couple of years.

Defensive Tackle

Player Ht/Wt Year Probable Role
Pearlie Graves 6-1/278 RS FR Possible Starter
Chris Perry 6-4/300 Jr Possible Starter
Donald Langley 6-2/290 JR Possible Starter
Mike Jones 6-3/255 Fr Redshirt

Who Is Gone: Richard Jones. God speed sir.

Who Is Still Around: Pearlie Graves: This is my first guess as to where a player will end up on the depth chart. I'm a little bit swayed by the fact that Graves was so highly thought of by the former coaching staff and it makes me think that the new staff will have a similar sentiment (both he and Jacob Karam were on the travel roster for every away game) about Graves. Graves has the potential to be a dominant tackle, but much of it is dependent on whether or not Perry has matured and improved to earn consistent time and if Langley is good enough coming out of the JUCO to earn any time. There's a reason why I've listed all three of these players as possible starters, and that's because we just don't know. I think it would be a huge jump for the staff to put Graves in the starting lineup after only a redshirt year, but that's what spring practice is for, for players to show what they've done.

Chris Perry: Again, to remind everyone, Perry was originally a Miami, Fla. commit and spent a year at Miami redshirting. Perry then transferred to Texas Tech and was able to get a waiver from the NCAA which allowed him to be eligible immediately (which was last year). Perry played some, but not often last year, and this is again one of those situations where Perry has a clean slate and he would do well to prove himself immediately to the new coaching staff. Perry will have plenty of competition in Graves and Langley, but all three of these players are former 4-star recruits. They all have potential.

Donald Langley: Another transfer, this time Langley originally committed to Tennessee and then transferred to a JUCO in Mississippi and now he's landed at Texas Tech. As stated above, Langley was a 4-star recruit coming out of high school, but the recruiting services don't give stars to JUCO players. in any event, if Langley doesn't get playing time immediately, he might not get playing time and this is Langley's last stop in an attempt to get some playing time. I'm putting all three of these players on equal footing, and perhaps this is a situation where the combination of all three players will see some playing time.

Mike Jones: Jones is a huge project. His high school coach says that he's a very quick defensive tackle, but he'll obviously need to put one some size to make an impact this year. Plenty of depth in front of Jones, so no worries.

Defensive End

Player Ht/Wt Year Probable Role
Scott Smith 6-7/275 JR Possible Starter
Lawrence Rumph 6-4/270 JR Possible Starter
Kerry Hyder 6-3/255 RS FR Backup
David Neill 6-5/280 JR Backup
Chris Knighton 6-3/240 RS FR Backup
Ryan Haliburton 6-4/245 SO Backup
Jackson Richards 6-4/245 FR Backup

Who Is Gone: Rajon Henley, Daniel Howard and Brandon Sharpe. God speed gentlemen.

Aside: I completely acknowledge that this is a ton of players at one position. Realistically, each one of these players are pretty versatile and could be used in various positions.

Who Is Still Around: Scott Smith: I have very high expectations for both JUCO players. Typically, at least for the past two years, the JUCO players have needed at least a year to get up to speed, except for McKinner Dixon, who seemed to be able to step on the field and make an impact. I think (very nervous about this statement) that Smith and Rumph can make a similar and immediate impact. From a 3-4 standpoint, Smith looks like the perfect 3-4 defensive end and if Tuberville wanted to go with a very traditional 3-4, then you'd see Whitlock as a NG, Smith and Rumph as DE's.

Lawrence Rumph: I'm not sure why Rumph didn't get more looks, especially assuming that all of the measurables are what's being reported. I think Rumph is in a similar situation as Sharpe in that he has a redshirt year available. Of the options available, he might be the most physically ready. He has the prototypical size for a 3-4 defensive end, and Rumph has talked about how he'd like to play tackle, but even the prior coaching staff thought that he'd play end.

Kerry Hyder: It's been a while since we've visited Hyder, but to refresh your memory, Hyder was a hybrid coming into college, but he has matured into a defensive end, especially with the size that he's added. Hyder played high school basketball (He even dunked!). And I even think that he's bigger than the 255 listed. Hyder does have a couple of guys in front of him, but I also think that Hyder probably has a bit more quickness than either Smith or Rumph.

David Neill: Not sure where to put Neill. I think he fits more naturally as a defensive tackle, but I'm not sure if he gets much time at defensive tackle, especially considering the depth at defensive tackle. Again, he has the size to be the prototypical defensive end, but he's never shown enough to the prior staff.

Chris Knighton: Knighton wasn't highly recruited and I think in the 2009 class, Knighton was one of the last commits before signing day. The best way to describe Knighton was that he was a projectable player. Not an immediate impact sort of player, but had a pretty interesting combination of size and speed to take a chance on him. I'm not sure what to expect from Knighton, but the one good thing that we can say is that there are a handful of defensive ends (Hyder, Knighton, Richards and to an extent, Barr) that are young and will develop.

Ryan Haliburton: After watching Haliburton get some burn last year, I'm almost certain that he's just not going to have the size or speed to be anything other than a serviceable backup, especially considering the depth in front of Haliburton. That's not to say that he's a bad player, but I think there are more physically talented players at his position.

Jackson Richards: Although Richards has the qualifications to play as close to immediately as any other defensive recruit, there's just a handful of players in front of him. I could envision a situation where Richards could potentially get some time at an outside linebacker position in the 3-4 (i.e., he has no responsibility other than to rush the passer), but for now, I'm thinking that Richards redshirts 2010.