One of the other criticisms of this class is that it is heavy on the side of defensive backs and I like to take a look at the last year's class (2013) and the class before that (2012). In 2013, this class had only six defensive back commits, two of them being JUCO guys that will only have the 2014 season left in terms of eligibility. The young guys that remain are Justis Nelson, Dee Paul, Caleb Woodward and Jalen Barnes. All very much terrific prospects. I'd add that I do see Woodward as a guy that might be at an outside linebacker spot eventually.
|The Defense | High School
|The High School DB's
|S Jah'Shawn Johnson (5-10/170)
CB Nigel Bethel II (5-9/170)
CB Joseph Clark (5-8/180)
CB Tevin Madison (5-10/160)
S Derrick Dixon (5-10/195)
S Payton Hendrix (6-3/191)
S Connor Wilson (6-2/205)
|The Lone High School LB
|LB Dakota Allen (6-2/225)
|The Lone High School DL
|LB LaDarrius Kidd (6-3/275)
|On The Radar
|OLB/TE Vincent Jackson (6-2/235)
DE Demetrius Jackson (6-4/220)
In the 2012 class, there were six defensive back commits, with three of them being JUCO guys, Olaoluwa Falemi, Bruce Jones and Austin Stewart (who isn't really a secondary guy now and he may not have a place on this team). The only high school guys that remained were Keenon Ward, La'Darius Newbold and Thierry Nguema. Thus, over the past two recruiting classes, there were only seven defensive back commits over the past two classes that were high school players.
That philosophy is changing in the 2014 class, with two JUCO guys, Josh Keys and Jamarcus Howard, and seven high school players: Tevin Madison, Jah'Shawn Johnson, Nigel Bethel, Joseph Clark (greyshirt), Derrick Dixon, Payton Hendrix and Connor Wilson.
Watching the film of Hendrix, he's already so mature for his size, especially if the weight is remotely accurate. Same thing goes for Wilson. I really could see those guys transitioning to the Raider linebacker spot. I like to think what they could do at that size with the range they have.
Bethel is supposed to be this class's highest rated player. Madison is an all-state player in Alabama, which is usually a pretty good thing, while Dixon and Johnson are highly rated players in their own right. The biggest knock against Dixon is that he's a safety that's only 5'10", but he's as good as it gets at that spot in terms of actual play. Johnson was recently courted by Texas, but apparently wasn't offered and has canceled his visit to Baylor, which was supposed to be this weekend. Johnson has a really nice offer list, including Baylor, Oklahoma St., Washington, Washington St. and Arizona St. He did it all for Ennis and didn't steal the headlines like his running back teammate.
Clark is supposed to greyshirt this year as he was injured late in the year and from all accounts, he's a pretty good kid.
The 2013 class had six linebackers and that's a pretty big number. for the linebackers, here's who you have: Aaron Ross, Gary Moore, Zach Barnes, Malik Jenkins, Jacarthy Mack, and Kahlee Woods. That's six linebackers that needed an upgrade in talent. This really needed to happen because the 2012 class had Micah Awe, Ryan Flannigan, Chris Payne, Will Smith, and Kris Williams (and Austin Stewart if you want). Of those guys, only Awe and Smith contributed this year, with Williams being out for the year. Texas Tech essentially had two productive linebackers from that class.
I'm not sure, but I don't think it was coincidental that this happened.
Allen represents some really good athleticism at his size. Assuming that his height and weight is pretty close, that's some pretty decent size for a linebacker and I think he's as solid a prospect as you could want.
L.J. Collier was committed for a long time with this class, but is now committed to TCU. I've heard rumblings about how the offer was pulled due to some some maturity issues to be nice. If you go back and look at his profile, his head coach said the same thing way back before his senior year.
Last night, Texas Tech received a commitment from LaDarrius Kidd, who is the lone high school defensive lineman and I suppose the one way to think about this is that Texas Tech essentially traded Collier, who didn't make the 1A All-State team and is hopefully a defensive end for Kidd, who is just a few biscuits short of being able to play along the line right now. I honestly project Kidd to be redshirted, but physically, Kidd is already there with his size and probably will have to work on his strength. I'd also have to imagine that Kidd is a sure-thing academially. This class needs sure things, or as close as possible and that's why there's four defensive linemen in this class that are JUCO guys.
There's no doubt that defensive line at the high school level will need to be a priority in the 2015 class. The situation regarding the defensive line would be a bit better if Texas Tech was able to grab some guys from the 2013 class, but that just didn't happen. The only defensive line commit from last year was Demetrius Alston. Defensive line is the toughest commodity to find in college football.
The high school defensive line position will have to be addressed next year because it has to.