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The best player from each Texas Tech coaching era

Jerry Moore’s best player? Gabe Rivera. Every other coach? Not as easy to determine.

Gator Bowl - Texas Tech v Virginia Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Texas Tech has had many great players come through the fog at the Jones and each player has had a great coach to help them on their journey. From Leach to Kingsbury, coaches have recruited amazing players that have shined while wearing the double T. With all these players, it is challenging to figure who the best player under each coach is. Luckily here at Viva, we welcome challenges.

Choosing the best player for each coaching era comes with its issues. So I am looking primarily at the players’ career while at Tech. Likewise I will only be judging how the player played under the specific coach. So players like Jace Amaro will be judged as on how they played under each coach dating back to the 80s.

Jerry Moore (1981-1985)

Gabriel Rivera

Who could forget Señor Sack? The 290-pound nose tackle was a force for the Red Raiders and helped anchor the defense. Rivera still owns the school record for the most tackles in a season by a DT, and finished his career with 14 sacks. As a senior, he garnered attention as a first-team all-american and put Texas Tech on the map. Rivera was drafted in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, however his career was cut short due to a car accident. Moore was not able to bring many wins to Lubbock, TX but he was able to help groom one of the best if not the best defensive lineman to put on the scarlet and black.

Honorable Mention

Jim Hart, Anthony Hutchison

Spike Dykes (1986-1999)

Zach Thomas

Arguably the greatest Red Raider in the NFL wasn’t too shabby in college either. The linebacker garnered first team all-american honors while also receiving the SWC defensive player of the year. Thomas set the school record in his senior year with 20 tackles in just one game, and had almost 400 for his career. Coach Dykes helped create a formidable Tech defense anchored by Thomas and helped Spike become one of the winningest coaches in Tech history. Thomas went on to have a hall of fame worthy career in the NFL with the Dolphins and open up a gym with his brother, and fellow Red Raider, Bart. Byron Hanspard came close to getting the nod here as the former Tech running back and SWC offensive player of the year was unstoppable but given all of Thomas’ accolades, he shines through.

Honorable Mention

Byron Hanspard, Robert Hall

Mike Leach (2000-2009)

Graham Harrell

Just like the 2008 Heisman Trophy voting, Harrell edges out his top WR Crabtree. Anyone who thinks Pat Mahomes numbers are impressive should go take a look at Harrell’s. Three seasons with over 4500 yards passing including a 5700 yard passing season. Led Tech to it’s highest ranking ever and greatest season ever AND a share of the Big 12 South title. Crabtree received much of the notoriety because of the great catch that was made in the Texas game but what’s forgotten is that Harrell threw for 474 yards in that game against UT’s lauded pass defense. If Kingsbury pioneered the Air Raid offense, Harrell showed the heights that the offense could reach. Not to mention that Harrell carved out a decent five-year NFL career and is a Super Bowl champion.

Honorable Mention

Michael Crabtree, Kliff Kingsbury

Tommy Tuberville (2010-2012)

Cody Davis

The short lived (and hated) member of this coaching list didn’t have many options to choose from. Jace Amaro’s best season came with Kingsbury and Baron Batch’s best seasons came with Leach. From this rubble comes a diamond in the form of Cody Davis. Davis might be a pleasant surprise to Rams fans but Red Raiders knew what the All-Big 12 Safety was capable of. Davis finished all four seasons of his college career with over 80 tackles, eclipsing the 100 tackle mark his senior season. That season he also helped anchor the 38th ranked defense in the nation, and bring an interception back for a TD. His legend has only increased with his impressive NFL career as he has been one of the LA Rams mainstays over the past four seasons.

Honorable Mention

Seth Doege, Eric Ward

Kliff Kingsbury (2013-Present)

DeAndre Washington

This may have been the toughest to decipher. Jakeem Grant set the school record for the most receiving yards, and Patrick Mahomes might be the most talented Quarterback in Tech’s illustrious QB history. However, Deandre Washington did what many thought was impossible, bring the running game back to Texas Tech. One of the biggest problem areas Tech had in 2016 was the absence of a running game and much of that had to do with Washington’s departure. Washington finished his career with over 4500 yards from scrimmage and almost 30 touchdowns. His senior year, Washington ran for just under 1500 yards which led all of the Big 12 and is the most yards for a Tech running back since Ricky Williams’ 1998 season. Washington also tied a Tech record with 6.4 yards per carry. Many, including myself, would call Washington the greatest running back in Texas Tech history (sorry Byron Hanspard). Washington also has impressed on the NFL level, as he’s gotten drafted and has only shown flashes of his ability that is sure to take him far.

Honorable Mention

Jakeem Grant, Patrick Mahomes