During spring practice, head coach Tommy Tuberville stated that he wanted to find 25 players on defense that he thought could play. With the season just around the corner, it's time to speculate who those 25 players might be (for offense and defense) and how they might fit into the grand scheme of things. This is not a top 25 list and the players are not listed in any particular order other than they're the top 25 players who I think will make an impact on each side of the ball. We'll alternate between offense and defense.
Defense: 25-21 (S Cody Davis; OLB Julius Howard; OLB/DE Aundrey Barr; DT Donald Langley; ILB Tyrone Sonier) | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1
Offense: 25-21 (IR Cornelius Douglas; TE Bo Whitney; RG Deveric Gallington; QB Steven Sheffield; C Justin Keown) | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1
#20 | Beau Carpenter | 6-5/267 | FR | OL
Rationale: I originally thought that Carpenter was going to redshirt this year, but Carpenter's in the conversation because he arrived in Lubbock in January and participated in spring practices. There were a number of instances where Carpenter was praised by his head coaches for his work ethic and was utilized by the staff as a blocking tight end. I've already mentioned Whitney as a possibility as a tight end, which may be more out of necessity depending on what Brown wants to do on offense, but Carpenter represents the sort of athletic lineman that could certainly line up at the tight end position and handle his own. The question for the staff, and perhaps a pretty good question for all involved is if you would burn his redshirt for a handful of plays during the year (maybe he'll get some burn at special teams) or do you let him work on his strength and weight for the entire year? Carpenter is on this list because I think it's a real possibility that he'll see the field, but I think he may be best suited to sit for a year.
#19 | Harrison Jeffers | 5-9/204 | SO | RB
Rationale: Tuberville recently mentioned that Jeffers underwent back surgery and that he'll likely be back by the start of fall practices. Jeffers represents the game-breaking sort of player that can make plays, much like Cornelius Douglas and Eric Ward. By all accounts Jeffers had a fabulous spring, and perhaps part of that was that the staff knew what they had in Batch and they wanted Eric Stephens, Aaron Crawford and Jeffers to get as many touches as possible. What we do know was that Jeffers had 6.20 yards per carry last year and 8.07 yards per catch (which tied Stephens for the team high). We know he's explosive, but we also know that apparently Jeffers was still pretty raw and he had a tough time picking up blitzes, which is why you typically saw him on third downs. If Jeffers is healthy then I think he's certainly in the rotation and I also think that Brown will be as creative as possible to find ways to get him the ball in some space.
18 through 16 after the jump.
#18 | Austin Zouzalik | 6-1/181 | SO | IR
Rationale: Zouzalik is firmly at one of the inside receiver positions, behind Detron Lewis and having him backup and then take this spot for the next two years is very comforting. There's always this thought that most Texas Tech receivers have a slight frame and aren't fast and I don't think that's Zouzalik. I'm guessing that he's added a bit of weight and is probably heavier than his listed weight, but he has good height and for those of you who don't remember, Zou has been timed at 4.38 in the 40-yard dash. I know, we don't like putting a lot of faith in fake 40-yard dash times, but he's one of the fastest receivers Texas Tech has ever had at the inside receiver spot. He hasn't quite shown the ability to use that speed, but that will come with time.
#17 | Chris Olson | 6-5/296 | SR | OL
Rationale: Olson isn't perfect and he's not the best offensive lineman on the team, but he may be the most important. For his career, Olson has played tackle, guard and center for Texas Tech and the former staff always praised his his versatility. With a relatively thin line, Olson fills a handful of rolls if various positions along the line don't pan out. If any of the current starters falter, then I'm thinking that OL coach Moore doesn't hesitate to put in Olson to pick up the slack. If things hold form, then perhaps Olson doesn't even have a starting spot, but that doesn't mean that Olson won't see quite a bit of time at one position or another.
#16 | Lyle Leong | 6-1/165 | SR | WR
Rationale: What's funny about Leong is that I'm pretty sure that he checked into the program at 165 and he's going to leave at 165 pounds. It would have been nice if Leong would have had the ability to add a few more pounds in his day, but then you have to wonder if that would have taken away from his tremendous leaping ability. To catch everyone up, Leong high jumped at 6'11 in 2008 and there are times that your jaw drops on the types of passes that he's able to catch. Leong takes over for the inconsistent Edward Britton, who's knock was that he couldn't catch a cold, but Leong proved his worth early in his career. In Leong's first year, he had a cast on one of his hands and he still caught everything that came his way. That trend has continued, although the biggest issue with Leong, just as it is with any player, is that he's must be more consistent. Leong will probably never be considered the leader of this group, but if he could consistently catch 6 to 7 passes a game and average 15 yards a pop, then I think he's doing his job.
Thoughts, comments, agreements and disagreements are welcome.