This is DTN's annual review of players, position-by-position, to take a look at the players that I think will be gone (graduating seniors or players possibly leaving the program), guys I know something about (these are players I've heard), guys I know nothing about (these are players that are on the roster who I have no idea who they are) and guys I think are on the way (commits to the program).
GUYS I THINK WILL BE GONE
|7||Will Ford||SO||6-0/190||Defensive Back|
|28||LaRon Moore||SR||5-9/200||Defensive Back|
|36||Nubian Peak||RS FR||5-11/190||Defensive Back|
I will miss Moore and Mitchem. Moore missed too much time with injuries this past year and Mitchem started most of the year, finished with 41 tackles, 5 pass break-ups, and 2 TFL. And aside from football, I like guys who stick with the program and get their degree and I think both Moore and Mitchem did that. Good for them.
Ford was highly touted coming out of high school, originally an Oklahoma commit that switched late and committed to Texas Tech. Ford played as a true freshman and had 22 tackles for the year, and started at cornerback for Texas Tech in 2010, but was mysteriously out with a hamstring injury almost the entire fall. Ford only played in 6 games, and I don't want to diminish his loss, but there's a handful of players that want to go to class and play football on this team. They may not be as talented, but they're willing to put in the work.
Peak was a tag-along with his older brother, LB Tahrick Peak. Nubian originally committed to Virginia Tech, transferred after his freshman year to Texas Tech and had to sit out this year. The Peak Experiment didn't last very long as they've both moved on to never made it on the field last year. Tahrick and Nubian are both at Hampton next year.
GUYS I KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT
|21||Jarvis Phillips||RS FR||5-10/189||Cornerback|
|22||Jared Flannel||JR||5-11/166||Defensive Back|
|4||Derrick Mays||RS FR||5-10/174||Cornerback|
|1||Terrance Bullitt||RS FR||6-3/191||Safety|
Things are going to be a bit different. With the 4-2-5, you're going to have 3 safeties, Strong Safety, Weak Safety and Free Safety to go along with 2 cornerbacks. Initially, I think you'll see guys like Mays, Osunde, Hursey, Phillips, Neboh, Reynolds, U. Johnson and Vest at cornerback. I think it's way too early to name front-runners at the cornerback position, but I think these are your options. Last year late in the season, Mays showed that he was a pretty good athlete that looked fluid in coverage and I think Texas Tech would be fine at a corner position with Mays starting at one of them. Phillips seems like he was built more for zone coverage rather than man coverage (although he didn't play that poorly in man coverage last year) and I think he'll look better this year with a defense that's probably a little more suited for his abilities.
Hursey is a guy that has excellent coverage ability, he's a true cornerback and I think that he and Reynolds (see below) are similar players in that they, along with Osunde, may be the best cover-corners on the team. Neboh and Vest, both walk-ons, compete, and both of these players have persevered and are first or second team, depending on the day. Obviously, the staff feels that they both have utility, but I'm not sure if they want one of the other players to step up or if the staff is fine with Vest and Neboh starting at times. I like guys that just go out and play and he's one of them.
So much more . . . after the jump.
And maybe this is the problem with last year's defense more than anything else, which is that the coverage was man coverage from the time the game started to the time the game ended. There seemed like there was little, if any, adjustment based on your personnel, and there's the theory that they'll figure it out by the end of the year, or the other theory, which is that they'll never be able to figure it out because they don't have the athletic ability to play that way.
I think that LAJ's Don Williams unofficial depth chart was something like this:
CB: Derrick Mays, Junior Osunde and Don Hursey
WS: Cody Davis and Brett Dewhurst
FS: D.J. Johnson and Tre' Porter
SS: Terrance Bullitt and Giorgio Durham
CB: Jarvis Phillips, Eugene Neboh, Sawyer Vest, Jeremy Reynolds and Urell Johnson
This seems about right considering what I do know about the abilities of some of these players. Davis and Dewhurst at the Weak Safety spot is really a good fit and is the rover-type of player, half safety and half linebacker. It's already been mentioned that Porter is working at cornerback and at safety for the spring because of the number of injuries, but I do think he eventually excels at free safety. Johnson will be a much better player than he was last year, trying to play cornerbakc when he just didn't have the skill-set to make that transition. It's not coincidence that I'm guessing that as soon as it was known that Willis wasn't going to be retained, that Johnson was immediately moved back to a safety spot. He's just not a cornerback unless he's playing a very soft zone corner.
I also wouldn't put too much stock into who is starting and who isn't. This is an unofficial spring depth chart.
As far as the strong safety, from what little we got to see of Bullitt late in the season, playing with a cast on his hand and not being afraid to hit anyone was fun to watch. I think that Bullitt can play and the coaching staff has already mentioned that they like Bullitt's height at this position and they think he's one of the more improved players on the team.
There are a couple of guys that I just don't know a thing about, but I think are scholarship players and have been on the team for a while. One of those guys is Durham, an transfer from Central Oklahoma and a DII All-American. Here's some YouTubery. Have fun with that. Desmond Martin is another guy and here's some ESPN video. I've never been able to find video on Russell Polk, so I'm not the best person to discuss what he can or cannot do. What I can say is that all of these guys are safeties, and obviously Durham is pushing for playing time.
GUYS I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT
|34||Sawyer Vest||JR||5-11/172||Defensive Back|
|35||Arlan Waller||SO||6-0/190||Defensive Back|
|37||Dante Floyd||SO||5-9/175||Defensive Back|
|28||Malcolm Gilliam||JR||5-10/180||Defensive Back|
|24||LeLand Gupton||FR||5-11/185||Defensive Back|
|26||Oluwashina Isola||SO||6-1/196||Defensive Back|
|25||Darius Pipkins||FR||6-0/170||Defensive Back|
|15||Chris Smith||SO||5-10/190||Defensive Back|
This is where we're going to learn a little something about the players on the roster who you may not have heard of. Rather than doing much homework, I'm going to link to their Texas Tech profile page and let each of you dig around. And to clarify, I only found bios on the players listed below
I was torn as to whether or not to put Vest here or in the category of guys I know something about since he's beeen on the first or second team this spring. Since I didn't know much about him, I'm putting him here, but obviously he just might contribute this year. Up first is Vest:
Sawyer Vest ... born Aug. 23, 1988, in Odessa, Texas ... son of Vance and Sealy Vest ... has two older brothers, Vandon and Stetson ... enjoys roping, hunting, fishing and hanging out with his family ... majoring in animal science.
Arlan Waller ... born January 25, 1990 in Dallas, Texas ... son of Warren-Paul Jolivet and Linda Waller ... has two siblings ... enjoys reading, video games, swimming and basketball ... majoring human development and family services.
PERSONAL Jordan Osbourne ... born September 18, 1989 in Dallas, Texas ... son of Chris Osbourne and Paula Lesniak ... has five siblings ... father played football at North Texas ... enjoys fishing, hiking and the outdoors.
GUYS I THINK ARE ON THE WAY
|J.J. Gaines||FR||5-11/175||Defensive Back|
|Otis Wright||FR||6-0/180||Defensive Back|
|Javess Blue||FR||5-11/180||Defensive Back|
Reynolds is already on the team practicing and mentioned above that I like Reynolds' coverage ability. Osunde is also on campus and is a guy that's competing for that starting spot. Gaines should show up on campus and he's a lot like Phillips in that he was a do-it-all type of player in high school who is going to be converted to some sort of defensive back position. I'm not going to be disappointed if Wright or Blue do not make it on campus. They were known grade-risks so if they make it to Lubbock, it's great to have a 6-0/180 athlete that runs a 4.5 on campus and you'll find a place for him, but if not, then it's not the end of the world.
|Giorgio Durham (S)||Eugene Neboh (CB)||Tre' Porter (DB)||Don Hursey (CB)|
|Jared Flannel (DB)||D.J. Johnson (S)||Jarvis Phillips (CB)||Urell Johnson (CB)|
|Brett Dewhurst (S)||Cody Davis (S)||Terrance Bullitt (S)||Desmond Martin (S)|
|Sawyer Vest (DB)||Junior Osunde (CB)||Derrick Mays (CB)||Russell Polk (S)|
|Arlan Waller (DB)||Dante Floyd (DB)||Jeremy Reynolds (CB)|
|Jordan Osborne (S)||Oluwashina Isola (DB)||Blake Gower (S)|
|Malcolm Gilliam (DB)||Chris Smith (DB)||LeLand Gupton (DB)|
|Darius Pipkins (DB)|