This series of articles will break down the Red Raiders roster approaching the 2017 season. Staff members selected their top-15 players currently on the roster and for each one of them, there will be a profile with basic information, videos, and expectations.
Position: Wide Receiver
Weight: 220 pounds
Hometown: Whitehouse, Texas
Dylan Cantrell is a highlight machine! Our No. 14 enters his fifth season in Lubbock as one of the most reliable targets for quarterback Nic Shimonek. Despite his talent and reputation, the senior wide receiver had rough freshman and sophomore years, having to also overcome a season-ending injury in 2015 but had a solid junior year.
Cantrell played football at Whitehouse High School (it sounds familiar, huh? He was a teammate of Patrick Mahomes III) and he earned many honors, as the First Team All-State selection by Texas AP Sports Editors. He was a four-star recruit for Scout.com and chose Texas Tech over many other universities like Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Washington State, Navy, Minnesota, and Louisiana Tech.
As we said above, his first three years were not satisfactory because in 2013 and 2014 he could not show his talent on the field and was outplayed by many other receivers on the depth chart, as in his freshman year he was only 11th in receiving yards and as a sophomore he only slightly improved to 7th position. We could have legitimately thought that Cantrell could have problems to come back into the team after the injury, but in 2016 he showed why he was so highly sought in high school and emerged as one of the top wide receivers on the team.
Dylan demonstrated a particular propensity for spectacular plays and at the same time, he was absolutely reliable, as he had more than a reception in every game that he played and in Week 13 against Baylor he reached his career highs with 111 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Cantrell is the most powerful wide receiver on the team and he knows how to use his size, as he shows a great ability to put his body between the ball and the defender, and has strong arms to secure the ball. Despite his size, he is also effective in running deep routes and, as shown in videos, he is very talented at making one-handed catches, and generally on spectacular plays.
Dylan’s size is good enough to make him a factor in the league, but there are doubts about some aspects of his play, like the ability to create effective separation against higher-quality defensive backs. To give an example, his worst game of 2016 was the one against TCU, that is recognized to have one of the best secondary units of the Big 12.
Now that fellow wide receiver Jonathan Giles has transferred to LSU, Tech has to replace its most productive wide receiver. Cantrell is expected to be one of the surging players of 2017 and he has the right skills and experience to target the 1,000-yard mark.