There's no secret that Tech's defense struggled all season last year. Ranked 127th in the nation, Big 12 offenses had field days on the ground and in the air. But new seasons bring new hope along with some new faces. One newcomer who I feel can help this defense is defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins.
Pipkins was selected to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl his senior year at Park Hill High School in Kansas City, Mo. In 2012, his freshman year at Michigan, he appeared in 13 games as a backup defensive tackle. The following year he only appeared in five games due to a season-ending ACL injury against Minnesota on October 5th. In 2014, again he only appeared in five games. After the season, he decided to transfer to Texas Tech. He was redshirted in 2015.
When I look at this guy, his size is what jumps out at me. He's 6-3 at 330 pounds, making him the heaviest member of the defensive line entering next season. He's a guy who can "plug up the holes", which Tech will have to do next season to slow down Big 12 running backs like Samaje Perine and Shock Linwood. When they ran between the tackles and got going last year, this defense had no answers.
Another reason I am fond of this kid is that he's spent time at one of the greatest college football programs in the country. So often Tech has had to rely on junior college transfers (and they will again this year) to help contribute significantly to their defense. I feel Pipkins being a former Michigan Wolverine puts him a notch above these past and present JUCO transfers. I feel if you've spent time at an elite program you've definitely gained some knowledge about what it takes to successful.
As a 5th-year senior, I feel Pipkins is someone the underclassmen on defense can look up to. This group is filled with young talent going into next year and they could use a good leader. That's where I can see him having the biggest impact.
Pipkins has now had a full year to adjust to Lubbock from Ann Arbor and develop relationships with his new coaches and teammates. Put him on the defensive line next to Breiden Fehoko, who continues to show improvement, and Pipkins has the potential to help take Tech's defense to the next level under David Gibbs.