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Five 2012 Defensive Commits That Need to Play and Produce Next Year

"Five" is a series of five things, players, thoughts or whatever I think will fill a post.

I thought about doing a post about the offensive commits that must play and produce next year, but other than LT Rashad Fortenberry, WR Javon Bell and IR Sadale Foster, I don't want any redshirts removed from the freshmen offensive players and that's only three players, so that doesn't equal five. You could also add Anthony Smith, J.J. Loller and Michael Starts into this conversation, but true freshmen that make a significant impact is a rare occurrence. Newbold makes my list and would understand why Smith, Loller and Starts might make your list.

1. Will Smith (6-3/220) | This is sort of a "duh" type of thought that Smith has to be a huge player for this team next year. Smith's emergence during the spring practice and it's evident that he's absolutely going to have to be an anchor to this defense. In the limited time that I saw Smith during the spring game, he was impressive. He's a three down linebacker. He's capable of blitzing the quarterback, he's capable of going down the line of scrimmage, he's capable of dropping into coverage and he's capable of delivering big hits. I think a lot of us are probably thinking that Smith is going to be a star and in order for this defense to improve, he has to be leader on this team.

2. Lee Adams (6-3/265) | I'm not real thrilled about the defensive line depth and the reason why Smith is one the team is because I believe the staff went to visit Adams and ended up finding Smith while there. Adams seemed a bit dinged up part of the spring and so we really didn't get to see him during the spring game. I can't help but think that the fact that Adams has earned two Division I scholarships, his first with Arizona St. and his second with Texas Tech that he can actually play. Of course I was somewhat lured into this thought last year with Leon Mackey's arrival, that he would contribute heavily, and that was a disappointment. I'm going to try not to get sucked in again, but Texas Tech could really use Adams size and strength. In watching his film, Adams displayed a nice ability to get off the edge and get to the passer. My biggest problem is that there wasn't much written about Adams during the spring, although I do recall he had a nagging injury at the end of spring practices.

3. Bruce Jones (5-9/175) | There's a question as to whether or not Jones will qualify, but I'm thinking we'll find out soon enough with summer classes starting soon. Either way, I really feel the same about Jones as I do Falemi, which is that I know that the JUCO competition doesn't always translate to FBS competition and there are some inherent risks with that the player may not succeed. Jones had one other offer, from New Mexico St. That's it. The only reason Jones signed is because they believed he could play. I haven't seen a highlight film that looked really awful. Jones' film looks good. He looks like a smallish cornerback that has the quickness to stay in front of receivers and make some plays on the ball.

4. La'Darius Newbold (6-0/180) | There's always something to worry about witha football team and I'm concerned about the defensive depth chart as all of the secondary starters are seniors. I don't know if it's going to be Olaoluwa Falemi, Jones, Thierry Nguema, Jeremy Reynolds, Jarvis Phillips, or Newbold, but there's going to be an open cornerback spot next year and someone is going to have a huge opportunity to see some significant time this year. Newbold offers the best pedigree of any of the options and he's most likely the most accomplished of the players. The toughest thing about a freshman making an impact is that it is incredibly difficult no matter the position and I think that second to quarterback, cornerback is the toughest position to master. Newbold will have a bit of an up-hill climb to be a player next year, but it sure would be nice to have a freshman who looks and plays the part and would be able to anchor a cornerback spot for the next three years.

5. Austin Stewart (6-2/200) | The reason to play Stewart this year is so that this team has players that have seen snaps next year. As mentioned above, the entire starting secondary graduates this year, which means that if these senior starters receive a majority of the time this year, next year's group will be woefully inexperienced. And I think that Texas Tech wants to find safeties that can range a bit more range than what Cody Davis and D.J. Johnson offer as Stewart and Tre Porter are backing up both of those players. The good thing is that Stewart was already on campus for the spring, so he has a leg up on the competition, the bad thing is that he's already been hit by a bus.