This year was an up and down battle for the Red Raiders. From questioning if we could win a Big 12 title to being certain that changes were coming, this season has been a roller coaster. With all that, there have been some players that have consistently shined through. Some were complete surprises, while other did just what we expected from them and more.
In the preseason we counted down the players who we believed were going to be the best for the team going into the season. Now we take a look at the top 15 players who went out and played to their tremendous ability.
All the members of Viva put together their ballot of who they believed to have played the best this season based on performance, and just like the poll system, this accumulated into points.
First we take a look at some players who just quite missed the top 15 but still had great seasons.
20. Tony Jones, EDGE (Preseason rank: NR)
Jones did a great job off the bench for the Red Raiders and had an exciting first season. He proved to be a mismatch at the rush position accumulating seven tackles for loss, four sacks, and an interception.
Jones has one more year with the Red Raiders as he looks to contribute at an already crowded position. Look for Coach Gibbs to find a way to use Jones in different packages going forward.
19. Octavious Morgan, CB (Preseason rank: 11)
Morgan did exactly what he was asked to do this year which is become a lock down corner. Morgan did a good job of covering some of the best receivers in the country, while batting away seven passes on the season. Morgan did not record an interception all year, but did make sure to blanket his man and though he missed two games this year, seemed to make up for it the following week both times.
Morgan will come back and be apart of a secondary that will have many position battles this spring. It will be tough for him to keep his spot as a starter but look for him to still be on the field against passing teams and get that coveted first career interception.
18. Travis Bruffy, OT (Preseason rank: 16)
17. Paul Stawarz, C (Preseason rank: NR)
The Texas Tech offensive line was a unit that was expected to be a work in progress and as the season started that seemed to be the case. However, by the end of the year, this looked to be one of the most improved groups on the team and much of that goes to the work of these two. The Left Tackle and the Center are arguably the most important positions on the line and these two were the biggest reasons for the line play. Both players even earn Big 12 honorable mention honors for their stellar play this season.
Look for both to be back, anchoring the offensive line next season. Whoever the quarterback is, will have a strong line to play behind. Look for Stawarz to potentially be a captain next season and back at the Center position. Tech has a couple high profile redshirts this year so look for them to push Bruffy in the offseason, most likely they will provide much needed depth for this unit.
16. Damarcus Fields, CB (Preseason rank: NR)
This season looked like it could be a bleak one for Fields coming in with many veterans still in the secondary and a few transfers coming in for the top spot, but when Fields had his chances he made the most of them. Fields’ breakout moment came in the Oklahoma State game where he intercepted future NFL draft pick Mason Rudolph and ran it back for a touchdown. That game earned his Big 12 Newcomer of the week honors, and set the tone for his play the rest of the season. Though Fields didn’t record another interception, he did end the year with 46 tackles, seven knockdowns, and a forced fumble.
Fields and Desmon Smith alternated throughout the year and will likely look to be in the same spots next year. Look for more big plays from Fields going forward.
Also receiving votes
Terence Steele, OT
Cameron Batson, WR
Kolin Hill, EDGE
Desmon Smith, CB
Dominic Panazzolo, P
Clayton Hatfield, K
Yes someone actually voted for a kicker, just like the polls sometimes there seems to be odd choices.
Check back every day leading up to the Birmingham Bowl as we unveil the top 15 players from the 2017 season.