Seth C: Alright Mike, National Signing Day is Wednesday, February 4th. Texas Tech currently has 16 players in the 2015 class, how many more scholarships do you think that Texas Tech will use?
Mike TTU: Realistically, I think Tech will add about 6 more commits to this recruiting class. Looking over the list of recruits, there are approximately 15 realistic candidates for the Red Raiders at this point in time. I think Tech will add another receiver or two this class, another linemen or two, possibly another DT or LB and a couple guys in the secondary. Out of those commits, I think we'll see another big commit. I'm not sure who it will be, but I'm pretty sure Tech will get another huge commit before Nation Signing Day comes. How many more scholarships do you think Tech will use? Which positions would like Tech to address the most as the 2015 class comes to an end?
Seth C: Okay, before I answer your questions, I have a couple more detail questions for you.
Right now, Texas Tech has 7 defensive commits and 9 offensive commits. If you had to pick where you think Texas Tech will get their commits, you think that maybe 4 of the 6 remaining spots will go to the defensive side of the ball?
And of those positions that you listed, what's the priority for you, from highest to lowest?
Mike TTU: I see about half going to the defensive side and half the offensive side. The reason why I say that is because there are more offensive recruits available than defensive recruits. I would love us to get a bunch of defensive recruits, but there's no too many defensive targets left for the Red Raiders, while there are still a bunch of offensive players available. As for what position I want the most, it has to be defensive linemen. The front line struggled last year containing the run, and many teams were able to run all over Texas Tech. We already have four defensive linemen commits (Breiden Fehoko, Courtney Wallace, Broderick Washington and Lonzell Gilmore), but we could use another Defensive Linemen or two with so many players leaving and the fact that all of those recruits may not pan out. Rather be safe than sorry. As for the other positions, my list from most importance to least importance are linebacker, secondary, quarterback, receiver then offensive linemen.
Seth C: So the next thing is the hiring of the new defensive coordinator David Gibbs. There's been rumors of Houston players flipping to Texas Tech with Gibbs being hired. Do you have two or three guys that you think Texas Tech should focus on? I think the two that I've heard would consider following Gibbs are Tyrell Thompson and Lenoy Godfrey. If Texas Tech got these two players to flip, would this fill the defensive line and linebacker aspect? Also, do you concern yourself with giving out another defensive line spot too early, especially with Joseph Wicker and Darrion Daniels still in the mix?
Mike TTU: I've heard the same exact thing; Tyrell Thompson and Lenoy Godfrey. I haven't looked at either of their films yet (too busy writing stories for VTM), but Tech could use another Linebacker and Defensive Linemen this class. The Red Raiders only have two linebackers committed in the last two classes (Dakota Allen and D'Vonta Hinton), and Arthur McGinnis seems to be the only LB still on the board, so getting Godfrey seems like a strong rumor. As for Thompson, he's made it clear that if Tech offered, they had a good chance to flip him. As you mentioned in a previous post, Tech is losing a lot of linemen after the 2015 season, so adding to our already big D-Line group is a smart idea. You have no idea who is going to pan out, so getting a bunch of guys on the front line is a smart idea. If Daniels or Wicker were to commit, I don't think it would affect Thompson's scholarship status at all. The more the merrier.
Seth C: Alright, let's get to some specific names and how you feel about landing each of them. As an aside, I was listening to Chris Level and he seemed to feel that Arthur McGinnis wasn't happening. Level didn't leave the door open and that's not typical of Level unless he's sure, so it may be appropriate to assume that McGinnis is out. Of the defensive guys that you've talked, what is your feeling in terms of percentage of landing on the following guys:
Also, from what I can tell, maybe the last remaining defensive back target might be Arico Evans? What would you give his percentage chance of commitment?
Mike TTU: Out of that group, I feel like Tech has a good chance of landing 2 or 3 of them. "JoJo" Wicker has Tech in his Top 3 currently, but all signs are pointing to UCLA as of right now. I'm sure the staff isn't giving up on him, but it's going to be hard to reel him in to Lubbock. Arthur McGinnis has shown interest in Texas Tech, but he also has liked A&M and Oklahoma a lot. I still believe Tech has a shot at him, but the chances of grabbing him aren't real high. I would say like 20% right now. As of Darrion Daniels, I still think Tech has good shot to land him. Us and Oklahoma have been near the top for a while, along with Baylor at time. He's visiting Iowa the weekend of the 16th, but that seems to be his only official visit left as of now. I think with Daniels being a legacy and the new Gibbs hire, Tech actually has a good shot to land him. I feel like if Tech offers any Houston commits, they'll likely flip to Tech and get a chance to play in the Big XII. I do believe that eventually we will offer them and get both of them on campus.
As for Arico Evans, he seems like someone who might've committed to Kansas to secure a scholarship. He will be visiting Tech the week of the 16th and he should be a name Red Raider fans should keep an eye on.
Seth C: Now, let's move to the offensive side of the ball. Since we started this conversation, Keke Coutee committed, but also has Carlos Strickland decommit. That means that there are still five or six scholarships available and it seems that the staff would be saving the rest for the defensive side of the ball, but with maybe one open for Semisi Uluave, possibly Carlos Strickland (but I think he's gone) and Kylan Johson, the quarterback from Skyline. As an aside, I'm not confident that Texas Tech can nab Chris Warren, but stranger things have happened. Who do you think are the possible few offensive targets?
Mike TTU: The Strickland decommittment stinks, but I love the other receivers Tech will be bringing in and I believe that we'll be fine without him. For those worrying about height, we're getting two receiver above 6 feet in Quan Shorts and Tony Brown, plus the coaching staff is still going after 6'4" Wide Receiver Donta Thompson. He's a stronger receiver that could also play the tight end position and would be used in key 3rd down and endzone plays. He should be a name Red Raider fans should keep an eye on. As for offense recruits, I still think Tech will add a few more to the class. Semisi Uluave is someone that could end up a Red Raider, with him visiting this January with several Tech commits, including fellow Hawaiian Breiden Fehoko (who's already on campus). Plus if Jim Mora bolts to the NFL, that can't be good for UCLA, who are also going after Uluave and Strickland. Kylan Johnson is also someone I believe Tech has a good chance to get. He's visiting Arkansas and Texas Tech this month and will likely choose between the two schools. If he commits to the Red Raiders, he'll likely be used as a safety. That's just speculation however. I don't think Tech will get Chris Warren, but he recently told SBNation that DeAndre Washington rushing for over 1,000 yards has him real interested in Tech. He's visiting Washington, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State this winter. Some other names to keep an eye on are Kavontae Turpin, Riley Daniel and recent offer Tate Leavitt.
Seth C: Let's talk a bit about each of these players. Thompson is the WR/TE from Ennis that is a bigger body, as you mentioned. Daniel is a former Houston commit and is on the offensive line and is from Oklahoma and Turpin is another inside receiver guy, small, but incredibly fast and from the same high school in Louisiana as Broderick Washington. Leavitt is a brand new offer, a freshman JUCO offensive lineman from Hutchinson C.C.
And what makes you think that Johnson is just going to be a safety and not given a shot at quarterback? I know that at Skyline, he was a defensive guy that had to switch because Skyline needed a quarterback, but is there something that you've read to think that Johnson is only going to be given a shot on defense or just a hunch because that's where he's being offered by Arkansas?
Given that there are just a few spots left, who is the highest priority of these four or five players (Uluave, Thompson, Daniel, Turpin and Leavitt) and what's your percentage of grabbing these players?
Mike TTU: I really like what Thompson brings to the table. I haven't said much about him before, but I finally found some film on him and like what he can bring to the table. With his size and strength, he could be a big playmaker for Texas Tech. Riley Daniel doesn't seem as polished as most linemen, but he has something that his coaching staff loves, and that's size. Kingsbury looks like he's trying to build the same type of offensive line like in 2008, when Tech went 11-1. It's between us and Baylor, but last time I checked, the Red Raiders' were his favorite Same thing with JUCO Tackle Tate Leavitt, as his size would be good for the O-line. KaVontae Turpin is a speed, shifty slot receiver who goes to the same school as Tech commit Courtney Wallace. I personally like what he brings to the table and think he could be the next great slot receiver at Tech if he commits. As for Kylan Johnson, while he does play Quarterback at Skyline, I've heard many teams are looking at him at safety. I believe I heard somewhere that Tech is recruiting him at Safety, but I don't remember where or when I heard that. Johnson just doesn't seem like the type of QB Kingsbury would be going after. I thought for sure Tristen Wallace would be a QB and he committed to Tech as a WR. He's a great athlete and can basically play anywhere. I don't think he'll be a QB, but I could be wrong
As for percentages, I'm not a fan of them. It's tough to say that "So-so has a ____ % chance of coming to Tech" when we aren't inside his head and know his situation. However, I think that Tech has real good chance to grab Turpin, Thompson, Johnson and Uluave. Some people may be surprised in my confidence, but I've heard Uluave so a lot of good stuff about Tech. He's also close with our newest Red Raider, Breiden Fehoko. Plus with Jim Mora possibly bolting to the NFL, UCLA could fall out of interest. He's coming the 16th (when a lot of commits are coming), which could play a huge factor in his recruitment.
Seth C: Last question for you. Texas Tech also hired, along with Gibbs, Zac Spavital, who is known for his recruiting, and I think was even named the Conference USA recruiter of the year in 2012. I was thinking that Kingsbury is trying to get an ace recruiter, sorta like Mike Jinks, but on the defensive side of the ball. Any thoughts on Spavital as a recruiter and what he can add?
Mike TTU: I don't know a whole lot about Houston recruiting, but I do know that they got some big defensive recruits for a team in the American Conference last year. This year hasn't been great, but that's partially because Houston lost their Head Coach this season. It'll be crucial to get someone who has played on a successful defensive who is used to recruiting in Houston and East Texas. Both of those locations have tons of prospects and could be a nice recruiting bed for the Red Raiders. Tech hasn't had the best success getting defensive commits, so his addition to the staff will be huge. Especially with Curtis owning Louisiana, it's nice to see a defensive guy in the Houston/East Texas area. Should help us get good guys next year like Dontavious Jackson (94 rated LB), Zach Hall (87 rated ATH) and Micheal Johnson (87 rated DE). I believe we'll see more highly rated defensive commits next year.