Texas Tech released their post-spring roster and depth chart late last week. Don Williams did a good job pointing out a handful of tidbits on players not returning and the two-deep surprises in his article. In reviewing the roster and depth chart, what struck me is how young and untested both lines will be come the 2016 season. As far as 2015, I expect these two groups to be team strengths with so much returning on the offensive line and the improvement of Levi and McElarth on the defensive line. Next season though, watch out. We have talked about the 2016 predicament of both lines before, but still hasn't become less daunting.
We lose all four starting defensive lineman after the 2015 season in Jackson, Levi, McElrath and Robertson. There will be plenty of reps for the second string throughout the season, so they will come into 2016 with some experience. Currently the second string consists of Gary Moore, Zach Barnes, Breiden Fehoko and Josh Outlaw. They will all be returning next season, but who lines up behind them in 2016? We just landed a University of Michigan transfer Ondre Pipkins who will be available next season. We currently have four defensive lineman committed to the 2016, one is Mychealon Thomas a JUCO commit. Like Levi and McElrath though, JUCO guys take a year to get up to speed when transitioning to FBS ball typically. However he will be a big body who can eat up space. Recruiting wise, I feel like we need to add a few more JUCO defensive lineman just to have enough big bodies to compete next season. We are also short a few more high school defensive lineman, but I wouldn't expect the current high school commits or any additional high school commits to impact next season. Fehoko is an aberration and counting on incoming freshman is not a recipe for success.
The picture on the offensive line is scary as well. We lose three starters after this season in Kaster, Clark and Morales. The current second string consists of two seniors, a sophomore and two freshman. With the offensive line rotating far less than the defensive line, the returning offensive lineman will not have near the experience of the returning defensive lineman, barring injuries this season. I really like our incoming freshman offensive lineman. With those guys and the addition of spring transfer Paul Stawarz, I actually think the offensive line will be strong towards the end of the 2016 season as they gain experience because the talent is there. On the recruiting front, we have a couple of offensive lineman committed to the 2016 class. I would expect us to add a couple of more high schoolers which will hopefully make for very solid back-to-back offensive line recruiting classes.
I think our offensive line is no worse than the #2 line in the Big 12 this season, and I could argue pretty easily that they are #1 in the conference. They are the best position group on the team in terms of starters. I think our defensive line, while not extremely touted will surprise folks with the strides they have made this season compared to last. Personally though, I can't help but look toward the future and in doing so I am hoping the coaches can piece it together for 2016.