Texas Tech has depended on JUCO transfers on the DL in recent memory, especially in the Kliff Kingsbury era with the dependance on Rika Levi to solidify the middle of a porous defense. Well, in 2016, the Red Raiders will be at it again with the transfers, except for this time the guys expected to make a splash have come from D1 schools.
Ondre Pipkins, a 247 composite 4* DT recruit out of high school, originally played football at Michigan until the Harbaugh era. After sitting out a year due to transfer rules, Pipkins is finally ready to take the field for the Red Raiders.
Pipkins had medical issues at Michigan, hurting his neck, tearing his ACL, and being diagnosed with arthritis in one of his knees. It's no secret that Pipkins brought a little injury baggage with him to Lubbock, and his health will be a huge question mark for the 2016 campaign.
Kolin Hill will be another big name in the fall. A 3* defensive end from Notre Dame, Hill specializes in the "bull rush" area of pass rush techniques. He did not transfer due to injuries, but presumably to get more playing time going forward. Former DL coach Mike Smith is on record saying that Hill is,
... going to be a good player. Smart. With him, it’s just teaching him the fundamentals (of) pass rushing.
It's not exactly a secret that Texas Tech is losing a lot off of an already pretty poor defense. DE Pete Robertson, DE Branden Jackson, and DT Rika Levi are all headed to either the next level of play, or going pro in something other than sports. That leaves us with two DL with starting experience, Zach Barnes (who started for Pete Robertson in game 1 of 2015), and Breiden Fehoko, a true sophomore who needs no introduction to the Red Raider faithful.
If we're going to have a successful defensive campaign in 2016, we will need the help of Pipkins and Hill, either in starting or high-contributing positions. Both are former top recruits, and both are out to prove that they can contribute consistently to the football team. We'll need every cog working in order if we're going to take steps forward on defense.
No one likes relying on transfers. I'd consider it a bigger win if we could get our own recruits out there. However, with 3 starters leaving, age will be a big part in how David Gibbs divvys up playing time. I expect guys like Houston Miller and Jonathan Picone to make an impact, but I would rather redshirt our freshmen to give them more time to be prepared for the rigors of the Big XII conference.
The word "Transfers" will once again be a huge word in Red Raider's drinking games and announcer ridicule on social media. I fully expect to sarcastically tweet multiple times about how no one knew that Kolin Hill was a transfer before Gus Johnson told us that he was. I'll get annoyed with it, sure. But the better Hill and Pipkins play, the more we'll hear this "Transfer" story. And while I'll be super passive aggressive about my distaste for announcers, I'll secretly love that these young men are making enough plays for the announcers to mention them.