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 (CB D.J. Johnson; DE/DT Scott Smith; SS Brett Dewhurst; ILB Brandon Mahoney; CB Tre'Vante Porter) | 15-11 (NT Colby Whitlock; ILB Sam Fehoko; CB Jarvis Phillips; DT Myles Wade; S Terrance Bullitt) | 10-6 (DT Pearlie Graves; OLB Brian Duncan; CB Will Ford; OLB Daniel Cobb; DE Jackson Richards) | 5-1
Offense: 25-21 (IR Cornelius Douglas; TE Bo Whitney; RG Deveric Gallington; QB Steven Sheffield; C Justin Keown) | 20-16 (OL Beau Carpenter; RB Harrison Jeffers; IR Austin Zouzalik; OL Chris Olson; WR Lyle Leong) | 15-11 (WR Derrick Mays; LT Mickey Okafor; QB Taylor Potts; WR Alexander Torres; RB Eric Stephens) | 10-6 (LT Terry McDaniel; WR Shawn Corker; RB Baron Batch; IR Tramain Swindall; IR Detron Lewis) | 5-1
#5 | Lonnie Edwards | 6-4/290 | SR | LG
Rationale: Edwards is expected to anchor this offensive line, although this will only be his second year to play extensively. Edwards may have proved last year that he was this team's best offensive lineman and it wouldn't surprise me to think that without Edwards returning, my thought that there might be some consistency to this year's line would be greatly diminished. I have absolutely no worries about the left guard position and if Edwards is playing and starting all year then there should be a pretty good bit of consistency along the offensive line. I think Edwards is an anchor.
#4 | Jacoby Franks | 6-0/185 | JR | WR
Rationale: I've always thought that Franks should be better than his stats. When Franks was recruited and signed, he seemed like the type of player that would blossom, but just hasn't put it together. Of course, it's early and Franks is just a junior this year, but he's already been surpassed by Alexander Torres on the depth chart and although I'd guess that Franks may be more athletically gifted than Torres (just a guess), it's more about consistency than anything else. At only 26 catches last year, I'd love to see Franks with 40 catches this year and work on getting something each and every game. With Franks mentioning this morning that a big part of his development was that he was a selfish player last year and it's all about team, then I can only think that Franks will blossom as a result.
3 through 1 after the jump.
#3 | Eric Ward | 5-11/202 | RS FR | WR
Rationale: This is my pick for the offensive break-out player on team, although I think that I'm not alone in this though. The current and former coaching staff has heavily praised Ward for being a tremendous blocker at the receiver position, but in addition to that he's physically ready (he's the same size as Baron Batch) to take over the X-receiver position after Leong graduates. I don't see Ward forcing Leong out of the starting spot, but I do think that Ward will get plenty of time. He is a true playmaker (along with Cornelius Douglas) and on a team that lacks true playmakers, he'll see plenty of time.
#2 | LaAdrian Waddle | 6-6/350 | SO | OT
Rationale: When OL coach Moore said that he was starting Waddle at right tackle against TAMU last year, I thought that this was a strange move, especially being somewhat late in the season and take away a redshirt from a player that wasn't heavily recruited out of high school. But Waddle played, struggled and was eventually replaced. Waddle has apparently lost some weight (down from 367 to 322) and is still at the same right tackle spot. Moore has been right more than he's been wrong while at Texas Tech, but playing football at a high level is about consistency. As of today, Waddle is your starting left tackle and my hope is that last year was a wake-up call for Waddle.
#1 | Ryan Haliburton | 6-4/245 | SO | TE
Rationale: I'm fairly well convinced that if OC Brown wants options at tight end, he has plenty as I've included at least two on this list, and one lineman, Beau Carpenter, that could flip to block at the tight end position. Haliburton never could find a spot on the defensive side of the ball, constantly getting passed up in the depth chart. This will be Haliburton's third year in the program and despite the coaching change I think Haliburton has the chance to be the blocking tight end for this team if he can simply catch a pass in the flat or find some space in or around the end zone. If I had to guess, Haliburton's bit goal for the offseason was to add a little bit of weight and it wouldn't surprise me if he was at the 250 to 260 range.
Thoughts, comments, agreements and disagreements are welcome.