With the start of the season right around the corner, I'm excited about a number of things heading into the season and I oftentimes think about what I'm most excited to see this year. These are the things I'm excited to see this year and absolutely will love to see what you're excited to see.
I'm calling these players sleeping sophomores because they're players that may bit a bit under the radar. The typical path for a football player is to redshirt the freshman year, then play just a bit on special teams and then look to try to start and make a difference the player's sophomore year. These are the players three players that maybe got a bit buried on the depth chart, but I also think will significant time this year.
Despite S Terrance Bullitt's most recent shoulder injury, I still think he was primed to be one of the best players on this young defense and you tend to appreciate a player who dedicates himself to gain 15 to 20 pounds during the offseason, a player that wasn't going to factor much if at all last year (only 23 tackles) may now be a integral part of the defense. Terrance is the younger brother of Melvin Bullitt and their father, Jerry, also played football with the Aggies. Bullitt received quite a bit of praise during the spring as a player that Tuberville and Glasgow both praised, saying that Bullitt was primed to be a break-out player. Naturally, this makes this pick as a player that I'm excited to see relatively easy. Add to it the thought that Bullitt improved himself and increased his size to be able to play the safety position makes me not only think that he has the desire to be a big part of the defense for the next three years.
More after the jump.
A Versatile Hyder
When DT Kerry Hyder arrived at Texas Tech (6-2/245) he was thought to be a linebacker or defensive end sort of hybrid between the two. In high school, Hyder was athletic enough at 245 to dunk a basketball (and be the point-man on the full-court press!) and allegedly ran a 4.60 40-yard dash time. In Ruffin McNeill's 4-3, he probably would have made an excellent "joker" linebacker, but things changed. Obviously redshirting his freshman year, Hyder really didn't see the field as a redshirt freshman, playing in 11 games, but registering only 13 tackles. From his freshman year to his sophomore year, Hyder added 15 to 25 pounds, bumping him up to 260 or 270 (he was reported to be 270 during the spring, but the roster says he weighs 260). But, and this is a big "but", of those 13 tackles 3.5 of them were for a loss. Hyder was slated to start at defensive tackle after the spring practices and I believe that once the fall practices started, Glasgow mentioned that Hyder gives Texas Tech some options along the line in that he can play defensive tackle or could also play defensive end. I'd agree and depending on the situation, Hyder could be a valuable run-stopping defensive end or a very quick defensive tackle that could be disruptive inside. Either way, I like the idea that the defense has talented younger players along the line, like Hyder and Pearlie Graves.
Barr May Be The Best
Tuberville hasn't been shy about saying that DE Aundrey Barr and DE Scott Smith were this team's best pass rushers last year. Unfortunately, both Smith and Barr only had 4 games last year to prove themselves as Smith was suspended and Barr had to have arthroscopic surgery and was also out the remainder of the year. Like Bullitt and Hyder, Barr added weight and is up from his weight of 225 from high school to 245. Although we didn't get to see Barr very much last year, I'm willing to trust Tuberville when he says that Barr was one of the two best two pass rushers last year and it was something that you could see from the standpoint that he appeared to have enough size and plenty of speed to take on defensive tackles. I still think I'd prefer if he could add a bit more size as I wonder if Barr will be a potential liability with his run defense, but he won't be the only option and if Glasgow does implement a four or five man defensive end rotation (Smith, Leon Mackey, Jackson Richards, Barr, and Dartwan Bush) then he's a really good piece to a two-deep puzzle.