It's not easy to come in as a freshman and make an impact on a program right away, but this year I can see three emerging as up and coming stars for Texas Tech. This program has had their fair share of freshmen come in and turn a few heads recently. Some players that come to mind are Patrick Mahomes, Justin Stockton, D'Vonta Hinton, and Jah'Shawn Johnson. All of whom are projected to do great things for the Red Raiders this season. That being said, here's a look at three freshmen I have my eyes on.
1. Johnathan Picone LB
With the departure of linebackers such as Micah Awe and Dakota Allen, Picone could definitely see a lot of playing time this season, maybe even be a starter. A three-star recruit from Covington, L.A., Picone graduated from Mandeville High School. He was named to the USA Today Louisiana All-State Second Team, the All-District 6-5A First Team, and the New Orleans Times-Picayune All-Metro First Team defense. He also earned District Most Valuable Player honors his junior year. Over his high school career he recorded 166 tackles, 14 sacks, and forced two fumbles. I don't see Picone being the best defender on this team this year, but I see good potential in this kid. Pairing him with Hinton could be the beginning of this defense rebuilding a strong group of linebackers.
2. Terence Steele T
Redshirted last year, Steele is projected to be a starter at one of the tackle positions. A three-star recruit, Steele followed his old high school teammate Stockton and coach Mike Jinks from Steele High School in Cibolo, TX to Tech. A multi-year starter at Steele High School, Terence was named Second Team All-State by Dave Campbell's Magazine, a First Team All-District 25-6A selection, and a San Antonio Express-News First Team All-Area selection. At 6-6, Steele is one of the tallest linemen on the team. Steele finds himself starting on an offensive line that has lost key talent in LeRaven Clark, Jared Kaster, and Alfredo Morales. However, joined by Baylen Brown, Tony Morales, and Justin Murphy, this offensive line has the potential to pick up right where it left off.
3. T.J. Vasher WR
If you have not seen the recent video of this four-star recruit, check it out right here:
While he could definitely be redshirted, it wouldn't surprise me if Kliff decided to give Vasher a chance to play in 2016. True freshmen receivers, Jonathan Giles, Tony Brown, and Keke Coutee earned playing time last year and I can see Vasher getting a chance as well. Especially if he keeps making plays like he did in that video. With so many skilled receivers on the roster, it will be hard for Vasher to stand out, but don't be surprised if he gets a chance when Tech is up big against a school like Stephen F. Austin or Iowa State. Who knows? A few years from now, Vasher could be a big part of this offense.