This offseason has been one of the wildest in recent history for Texas Tech. With key additions early on and even as of recent with the signing of former Virginia Tech defensive end Robert Wooten, Tech has made a splash in the transfer portal just as much as anyone around the country.
As we inch closer and closer to training camp, there are plenty of position battles and storylines to keep an eye on. With all the talk of realignment going on right now, it’s easy to see how many could forget about the present while focusing more on the uncertain future. As for now, I’ve compiled a list of ten players who I’ll have my eye on throughout this training camp and as the season progresses.
Behren Morton - QB
Arguably the most sought after recruit from this past class, Morton came to a Tech quarterback room that lacked significant experience aside from Henry Colombi being the starter in 4 games this past season. That all changed in the middle of February when Tyler Shough committed and changed the landscape of the football team for the time being.
Going from competing for the starting position to the outside looking in, how Morton performs this training camp and progresses throughout the season will be interesting to see. Obviously the length of Shoughs stay here in Lubbock will play a factor in whether or not Morton could choose to stay here for the long run. With a strong performance, Shough could be gone after just one year which would open the door up for Morton to learn the offense this year and capitalize in the near future.
Chadarius Townsend - RB
When the Alabama transfer came to Tech during last offseason the buzz was obviously high coming from a school like Alabama. Townsend was mostly a special teams contributor during his time there, but he was a unanimous four-star recruit coming out of high school. During his first year at Tech he saw action as the teams kickoff returner and took snaps at running back behind Sarodorick Thompson throughout the season.
This season I would like to see Townsend with an expanded role as Thompson has been injured some throughout the offseason. The other young guys in the backfield should also see some touches throughout the year as well, but I would like to see Townsend emerge as the clear number two back and get a lot of work in the passing game as well.
Kaylon Geiger - WR
One of the more surprising additions to the roster this offseason, Kaylon Geiger transferred in from Troy University. He’s a shifty and fast receiver that has made the most of his opportunities, earning All-Sun Belt honors both of his years at Troy. From all the film I watched on him, there wasn’t a play that I could remember where he had the ball in his hands and didn’t at least try to make somebody miss as he’s always looking for the big play.
According to PFF he lined up in the slot on 95% of his offensive snaps, so he will look to join an already crowded receiving corps that has plenty of talent to go around. With guys like Dalton Rigdon, Mclane Mannix and Myles Price already there it’ll be interesting to see if Geiger will be a big part of the mix in his final season of eligibility. His playmaking ability alone should get him some touches early on.
Sterling Galban - WR
Speed kills, and if anyone is familiar with Sterling Galban they’d know that this guy can flat out run. Plagued by a rough few seasons that ended early due to injuries, Galban hasn’t had the chance to show what he brings to the table as far as his explosiveness goes. Going into training camp this year with the aforementioned talent that this receiving room possesses, it’s an uphill battle for playing time.
I would love to see Galban remain healthy throughout the season and make the most of any opportunity he can to remind everyone of the player he was when Tech signed him. We might not see him much during the season, but he can certainly impress the coaching staff with how he performs now that he’s healthier. He could also be used in the return game as he was dangerous as a returner during his prep years.
Travis Koontz - TE
After two years of being the main guy at the tight end position, Koontz has to take the next step and establish himself as a dominant offensive player this season if Tech is going to have the level of success we want them to. Koontz has a nice frame for the position and is a solid route runner that can find open spaces in the defense. After dominating the playing time the last few years, guys like John Holcomb (6”5), Jed Castles (6”7), and Mason Tharpe (6”8) will be implemented more into the offense if Koontz can’t be consistent enough.
What I want to see from Koontz this training camp is exactly what I said before, consistency. If Tech is looking to feature the tight end position more frequently, Koontz should be a beneficiary of that as long as he remains the teams number one guy. With the talent on the outside that Tech has the middle of the field where Koontz likes to work should be unoccupied. This is his last season and if he has any hopes of playing at the next level then he needs to take the next step and help this offense become one of the more dangerous in the league.
Caleb Rogers - OL
Last year Rogers found himself in the starting lineup the last three games of the season. According to PFF he allowed one sack, two quarterback hits and five pressures in those games. Given that he was a true freshman, it was nice to see him get an opportunity to show this team what they were getting out of their three-star recruit.
This year I would like to see Rogers solidify the right side of the line with T.J. Storment essentially a sure thing to keep the left side locked down. As explosive as this offense could be, without security in the front there’s not much anyone can do. If he can improve off of his first season with the team, this offense could easily be something special in both the run and the passing game as well.
Gilbert Ibeneme - DL
After redshirting his first year at Tech, last season was supposed to be the year where we were going to see what the three-star recruit out of Pearland, Texas brought to the table. Unfortunately injuries plagued him in an already shortened season and he was only able to dress for the later part of the season and didn’t see the field.
This year, barring injury, I would like to see Ibeneme establish himself as a dominant presence on the defensive line. His name along with Nelson Mbanasor are always being brought up in the press conferences to see how their progress is coming along, so I’m excited to see this duo help anchor Tech’s defensive line and control the front of the defense in order for the linebackers to roam freely.
Brandon Bouyer-Randle - LB
Bouyer-Randle moved around the entire defense and appeared in every game for the Red Raiders. He was usually used inside the box as the third linebacker on the field but didn’t have much production. His ability to play in coverage as well as rush the passer helped him see the field as often as he did even with the other talent that Tech had at his position.
This year I would like to see the former Michigan State linebacker have more of an impact rushing the passer. He is capable of playing off the ball linebacker as well but he rushed the passer a lot more for the Spartans and showed he was capable of doing it on a consistent basis, so allowing him to use his athleticism on the outside could be beneficial for the Red Raiders.
Adrian Frye - DB
The hype was real after Frye’s amazing freshman season for Tech, but he hasn’t exactly lived up to that the past two seasons. After switching to safety his sophomore season, he moved back to corner and only started one game early on in the season. With the talent that Tech has brought in through the transfer portal as well as the high school level, Frye might be on the outside looking in going into his potential final season for the Red Raiders.
I would like to see him find his way into the starting lineup and show us a much more improved version of himself, even better than his freshman season. He is more than capable of it, and maybe a fire has been lit underneath him with how crowded the defensive backfield has become to play a lot better and be more consistent in coverage. If his play does improve and he can be a strong corner opposite Damarcus Fields, the Red Raiders defense will be one of the best in the league as an overall unit.
Reggie Pearson Jr. - DB
When the Red Raiders brought in Pearson Jr. in May, I didn’t exactly know what to think about it with the defensive backfield already being pretty deep. After hearing Matt Wells at the Big 12 media day say that they didn’t bring him in to just sit on the sidelines, I became more intrigued with this signing. Pearson sat out last season but was the starting safety for a ten win Wisconsin team that made it to the Rose Bowl during his redshirt freshman season.
What I am interested in seeing from Pearson Jr. is how he will be used in this defense. He is solid in both coverage and helping in the run game as he was the fourth leading tackler during that redshirt freshman season at Wisconsin in a tough Big-10 conference. The safety position is already pretty solidified with Marquis Waters transferring in from Duke earlier in the offseason and Eric Monroe having played very well for Tech last season. A three safety rotation wouldn’t be a bad idea at all as all three are deserving of the starting positions, so it’s going to be interesting to see who Tech throws out there to start the season.