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Texas Tech Player Eligibility Table: Defensive Backs

The Texas Tech Red Raiders have a mix of experience and youth coming back in 2015 in the secondary, we break down the eligibility of the players.

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

This will be a somewhat short series to catch everyone up on the current state of the eligibility remaining for each position group. We'll update these tables after National Signing Day. For reference purposes, the black boxes are for years available and the grey box is if there is a redshirt that is available.


Cornerback Eligibility Remaining
Player Year Ht/Wt. 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Nigel Bethel II SO 5-9/178
Tevin Madison SO 5-10/160
D.J. Polite-Bray JR 5-11/183
LaDarius Newbold JR 6-1/201
Thierry Nguema JR 5-10/174

Reason for Hope

There are a ton of starts that return for guys like Bethel and Madison and I think that Polite-Bray received some excellent playing time late in the year.  The coaching staff really bit the bullet in 2014 with playing so many freshmen and I think you also see how the coaches really felt that Newbold and/or Nguema.  I could also see Polite-Bray breaking into the starting spot because he's got really nice size for a cornerback.  I actually think that his switch to cornerback could work out really well.

Reason for Concern

The cornerback spot is really pretty thin after the top three players, assuming the coaches aren't real keen on Newbold and Nguema.  The good thing is that Nelson could move back over to cornerback easily.  It was also apparent last year that Madison and Bethel struggled quite a bit at times.  They showed flashes, but they were true freshmen and they could be excused.  It will be interesting to see how much these guys improve over the course of the year.

Prognosis for 2015

I'm probably the most comfortable with the cornerback spot of all of the positions on the defense because of those three returning cornerbacks.


Safety Eligibility Remaining
Player Year Ht/Wt. 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Keenon Ward JR 5-9/199
J.J. Gaines SR 6-0/185
Justis Nelson JR 6-2/177
Jah'Shawn Johnson SO 5-10/170
Kisean Allen FR 6-0/165
John White SR 5-10/205

Reason for Hope

I think I have this correct and I think this is probably a pretty close approximation as to the depth chart, but so much depends on how things play out in the spring.  The one thing that I think is true is that there is certainly a lot more depth this year, depth that has played and competed and with the additional depth, I hope it breeds some real competition.  I think that Ward is a standout player, not perfect, but I'm really fine with his play overall and now you have Nelson and Johnson that can really push the incumbents, which, like the cornerbacks, is a good thing.  And this safety spot will have more players after National Signing Day.

Reason for Concern

The only thing that you really need to do is go take a look at the overall pass defense (this criticism obviously applies to the cornerbacks too) as Texas Tech was 95th in passing yards allowed in 2014 and so the concern here is that even though some key players return, they were key players on a pretty terrible defense.

Prognosis for 2015

I think Nelson has more ball awareness than Gaines and if I had to start one or the other, I'd start Nelson because I think he can track the ball better at the free safety spot.  I think that when Johnson adds weight, he'll be pretty good at this spot as well.  He was asked to play cornerback as a true freshman and played well, especially considering this wasn't his position in high school.

Raider Linebacker

Raider Eligibility Remaining
Player Year Ht/Wt. 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Jalen Barnes SO 6-0/189
Payton Hendrix FR 6-2/194
Derrick Dixon SO 5-9/185

Reason for Hope

I think Texas Tech has upped the athletic quotient quite a bit here, but have maybe lost some strength with Austin Stewart moving on.  Stewart always seemed okay in pass coverage, but I thought that he would get turned around and lost sometimes.  That shouldn't happen with Barnes.  And I have no idea what to think about Hendrix and what he can do, especially since the coaching staff made it clear that they wanted to redshirt him.  I'm also curious about why the staff wanted to redshirt Hendrix, but were fine with taking the redshirt off of Dixon.  They had to play someone at the end of the year and given everything, I thought Dixon played really well.  There is a ton of athleticism for the coaches to choose from here, it will be interesting to see who ends up winning this battle.

Reason for Concern

See above.  Youth and/or inexperience.

Prognosis for 2015

I think a ton of what happens here is dependent on what happens with the defensive coordinator. You could see all of these guys go back to a normal safety spot as opposed to playing linebacker.  I don't have a clue as to what happens, but this could be worthless once the DC is retained and we start to figure out what he wants to do.  I think all of these guys find spots somewhere, it just gets a lot more crowded.  The new defensive coordinator is going to have some options.

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