As we discussed in this other article, June has been, until now, very busy for the Red Raiders recruiting staff, with 10 players who decided to commit to the football team. This is an analysis of some of them, the five who signed from June 12th to 17th. The order of the list will follow the commitment date.
Cameron Valentine / 6’3”, 250 lbs / Defensive End
Foster High School (Richmond, TX)
24/7: *** / Rivals: *** / Scout: **
While the other recruits are mainly from the Dallas area, Valentine is from the Houston area and despite missing the first four games of the season because he transferred from another school, he was noticed for his 66 tackles and five sacks. He earned the 2nd Team All-District 27-5A honors and helped Foster High School to reach a record of 14-1 and to advance to the Texas Conference 5A D1 Championship Game. He chose the Red Raiders over other 14 schools including Army, Navy, Tulsa, and UNLV.
Valentine played as an interior lineman all season long and he was disruptive. He has an explosive first step, good size, notable strength and all these things mixed together create a player that was hard to stop at the high school level.
His weight can be a problem in college and, in accordance with Texas Tech defensive line coach Terrance Jamison, Valentine will work on trying to bulk up to 270 pounds and begin the transition to defensive end. If he can add this weight and complete the transition he can become an interesting pass rusher in the Big 12.
John Graves / 6’2”, 270 lbs / Defensive Lineman
Lancaster High School (Lancaster, TX)
24/7: *** / Rivals: ** / Scout: ***
Despite the low grades that he obtained from major recruiting services, John Graves has a growing reputation. He committed to Texas Tech while having offers from, among others, Colorado State, Memphis, New Mexico State and UTSA. He is also drawing attention from other Power 5 schools like Duke, Indiana, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Missouri, and Oklahoma State.
Physically well-developed, Graves recently transferred to Lancaster from Blue Springs High School (Blue Springs, Missouri), where he finished his junior season with 70 tackles, 44 quarterback pressures, five sacks and three forced fumbles, helping his school reach an 11-3 record and the Missouri High School Championship Game.
If we must choose a word to describe Graves, it’s “versatility.” He played along all the defensive line (nose tackle, as a pass rushing 3-technique and defensive end). There is not yet an accurate plan indicating which position he will play in college, but if he stays committed to Texas Tech, he can create competition and depth in more than one position, and that is only a good thing.
Alan Bowman / 6’3”, 203 lbs / Quarterback
Grapevine High School (Grapevine, TX)
24/7: *** / Rivals: *** / Scout: ***
It is always important landing a commitment from a quarterback before his senior year, but if this is a quarterback who is wanted by half the nation and visited the most important campuses, things are even more intriguing. Alan Bowman is ranked No. 27 in the nation by 24/7 among the pro-style quarterbacks and No. 16 in the same ranking by Rivals.com. He’s ranked No. 47 in the nation among all quarterbacks by Scout.com.
Bowman committed to Texas Tech despite having offers from more than 20 other schools and scheduled visits to, among others, Penn State (his father played for the Nittany Lions), Oklahoma, Michigan, Missouri, Houston, and Arkansas. To get Bowman in Lubbock, the Red Raiders used their heavy hitters and the main recruiters, coach Kliff Kingsbury and offensive coordinator Eric Morris.
Bowman had a breakout junior season with Grapevine High School and threw for 3,240 yards, 42 touchdowns and six interceptions, while he rushed for 204 yards and three scores. He lead his team to a 10-2 record and to the second round of the Texas Class 5A Division II playoffs.
Watching tape, it is evident that Bowman’s style can match perfectly with Texas Tech’s offense: he is very accurate in his throws (he completed almost 70% of his attempts in 2017) and can throw it deep with good arm strength. He played almost exclusively from the shotgun and he is used to playing in a system where he finds many receivers. He has the patience to scan the field and find the best solution.
Bowman has good size at 6’3. He can bear hits and, although he isn’t considered a dual-threat quarterback, can run the ball with efficiency in emergency situations.
He’s still raw in footwork, and has a too-mechanical release of the ball. But he has the possibility to improve in these areas and to compete to be a starter in 2018. His size and accuracy remind about the current Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien, who also is tall and big and secured the job in his freshman season.
Jabari James / 6’2”, 175 lbs / Athlete
Fort Bend Marshall High School (Missouri City, TX)
24/7: ** / Rivals: ** / Scout: **
If Texas Tech was looking for some speed, they certainly found it in Jabari James: the dual-threat quarterback coming from Fort Bend Marshall High School showed some stunning flashes this season and finished with 1,385 passing yards, 20 TD pass and four interceptions, to which he added 1,082 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. James led his high school to a 11-3 record and to the Texas Class 5A Division II quarterfinals and he was also recruited by other Division I universities like SMU, Texas State, Tulane, and Tulsa.
Considering that he was recruited by offensive coordinator Eric Morris and outside receivers coach Emmett Jones, it is easy to imagine that James will likely begin a transition to wide receiver. James has problems on short and intermediate throws, he lacks the ability to read defenses and his preferred solutions are screens and deep throws.
James is a limited pocket passer but when he decides to run he is fun to watch, because he is fast and has a great ability to avoid the first tackle. He has a high top-end speed so when he runs in the open field he creates lots of problems for opposing defenders.
In the end, James is a big project because his receiving ability is still unknown, but he has the size and the speed to become something interesting in college.
Jaylon Hutchings / 6’1”, 285 lbs / Defensive Tackle
Forney High School (Forney, Texas)
24/7: *** / Rivals: ** / Scout: ***
The defensive line is certainly one of the positions that the recruiting staff follows with most attention, because the results in recent years were not that good. Despite the unit’s youth, as they’re not expected to lose many seniors after the 2017 season, the Red Raiders already have recruited four defensive linemen. We talked about two of them earlier in this article, one will be in the next article, and the other one is Jaylon Hutchings, probably the most talented among them.
In 2015, Hutchings put up big number and began to create his reputation in a season made by 123 tackles, 22 tackles for a loss, six sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one defensive touchdown, and 12 QB hurries. In 2016, he could not reach the same numbers because offensive lines doubled him, but he still had 47 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and four sacks.
Hutchings is very versatile and very athletic and these two characteristics led him to play some running back in his junior season as well. It was a situation dictated by a plethora of injuries but it is useful to understand how fast and athletic Hutchings is, as he finished as the best runner of the team and had 719 yards and six TDs, averaging six yards per carry.
Obviously the experiment will not be repeated in college because he is a defensive tackle and he will play 3-technique or as a nose tackle. Talking about his true position, he has an outstanding first step that allows him to take immediate advantage over offensive lineman and has a good tackling technique. Despite his size he can run and also chase runners who go to the outside. If he adds some more weight and maintains his speed, he can be a good addition in the trenches.