Last season Texas Tech rolled out SaRodorick Thompson, Armand Shyne, and Tazhawn Henry as three running backs fighting for playtime in Tech’s developing offensive scheme. By the mid-point of the season it was apparent that Thompson should be the no. 1, but Shyne and Henry made for strong rotational athletes who continued to provide production. After Shyne graduated there wasn’t much panic in the way of depth because Henry was a reliable no. 2. Yet Henry announced his intentions to transfer and found a new home recently at the University of Houston; leaving Texas Tech with a substantial depth-chart problem at running back.
Well turn up the Lynyrd Skynrd and ROLL down the windows, because you only have to go some 930 miles down Interstate 20 to a little football town called Tuscaloosa, Alabama to find Matt Wells’ solution. Side note: Tuscaloosa has a Whataburger, so it’s more than A OK in my book. Just yesterday Wells tweeted out his coach-trademark “Wreck Em” only to be followed up with the news that Chadarius Townsend transferred from Alabama to come be a part of Texas Tech.
Townsend, an Alabama native, was a four-star athlete coming out of high school and had his pick of the litter when it came to SEC offers. Ultimately arriving at the obvious choice of staying near home and playing for Nick Saban, Townsend endured a somewhat tumultuous journey with the Crimson Tide. In three seasons he has worked in with running backs, wide receivers, and even defensive backs - it’s like our sister site Roll Bama Roll said, “versatility is nice but (Townsend) got buried in the depth chart.”
Wells’ recruitment of Townsend couldn’t have come at a better time. The departure of Shyne and transfer of Henry left us with Thompson, Jax Welch, and Tahj Boyd coming in. Nothing against Welch and Boyd or anybody else on the roster, but if there’s a team that needs some serious proven depth in the Big 12 it’s Texas Tech. In that same train of thought: if Wells & Yost are going to push a more balanced attack then they’re going to need a punchy backfield that can afford an injury. Townsend is that dude.
Now listed as a running back for Tech, Townsend might need to pick up a few pounds to compliment his predilections for running north-to-south but don’t hear me wrong: Townsend is strong and elusive. As a recruit he was touted for having strong instinctive play and such a high ceiling that you would “(recruit him) based on skill alone.” No doubt at Alabama he went from shining star to struggling artist, but it wasn’t like Townsend lost his ability to make the play. Just take a look at this play as a WR in Alabama’s 2019 spring game:
Another huge win for Wells in this commitment is that Townsend isn’t a traditional graduate transfer. Last season he was listed as a red shirt sophomore, which means that he has two seasons of eligibility left where more grad transfers have one. Townsend comes in with ample experience from his time under Saban, and no doubt is eager to get to work making the most of his time under Wells. If I’m having to project, and that’s a dangerous notion in itself, where Townsend ends up on the depth chart: he’s an easy no. 2 and probably no. 1b playing for time alongside Thompson. The two of them offer the offense different skillsets and it’s completely feasible that they’re the no. 1 on different packages.
The interesting bit surrounding Townsend is that, with the departure of Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III (NFL), there was an expectation he would be competing for a larger role in 2020. The eight scholarship WRs that Alabama was bringing on the team this cycle, though, made it obvious to Townsend he’ll have a better chance to solidify a position somewhere else. Texas Tech is the destination, and if Townsend has a successful two seasons it will be a beacon for other graduate/regular transfers that Wells (much like Beard) can develop your game.