Friday, February 6, 2009

2009 Recruiting Class Thoughts

Well my day is pretty much over at 9:30 (at least the work part of it) so I thought I'd do a little wrap up on recruiting.

Star of the class: A lot of people will point towards 4 Star DT Pearlie Graves as the biggest get for the Red Raiders. However, I'm going to go in another direction and take Eric Stephens, RB Mansfield Timberview. Initially committed to Minnesota, Stephens spent a long time looking at Tech (including multiple visits to Lubbock) before finally switching to the good guys after the Texas game. The reason I'm excited about him is that the pipeline at running back is WELL stocked for the next few years with Batch, Jeffers, and now Stephens. As we all saw this year, the emergence of the running game in the Air Raid had as much to do with this team's success as anything else. Stephens is rated by Rivals as the 3rd best RB in space and ESPN notes that he's arguably the most elusive back in this country this year with an ability to reach top speed in a few steps. Most importantly, he is by all accounts a great character kid who takes care of himself in the class and will represent Texas Tech very well. If the Red Raiders are to continue having 10 win seasons in the future, Eric Stephens will be a big reason for that success.

Sleeper of the Class: Derrick Mays, ATH Killeen Shoemaker. I debated whether to put him here or at Immediate Impact because there's a VERY good chance that Mays is on the field come August. He has low 4.4 speed and runs a sub 21 second 200m dash. If there's one thing that this team is's speed across the field (see Ole Miss game for further explanation). While Mays will likely end up playing CB in a few years for Tech, expect to see him returning kicks and punts in 2009 along with the occassional designed play for him on offense. Leach showed some wrinkles last year (Crabtree and EMo taking snaps, Harrell running a zone read, the play action pass to the FB in goalline situations) so I wouldn't put it past him to find a way to get the ball in the hands of Mays next year.

Immediate Impact: One player is already on campus as a spring enrollee and that is Eric Ward, WR Wichita Falls Rider. Ward literally jumped ship on the Sooners at the 11th hour, visiting and subsequently enrolling at Texas Tech in a matter of a few days as classes were starting back up this semester. Not only is Ward the highest rated WR of this class, he is already working out with the team and learning the various receiver roles in Leach's scheme. Expect to see him take over the H slot formerly filled by Amendola and Morris and bring a new level of athleticism to the position that hasn't been there in previous years.

Biggest Project: Myles Wade, DT unattached. Hard to think that I could label a guy that was an Army All-American and Rivals 100 member in 2007 as a "project." For those who aren't familiar with Mr. Wade, you are truly missing out an inspirational story of a young man that's already dealt with a lot in his life. Committed to Oregon out of high school, he was unable to qualify and Oregon placed him at a JUCO in Yuma, AZ. However, after playing there in 2007, Wade was then asked to sit out of competitive football in 2008 so as to preserve his eligibility (he has 3 years to play 3) for his eventual return to Oregon He spent the fall at a local college going to school and working out every day at 6AM with a trainer while also taking care of his terminally ill mother (she passed away in late December I believe). Unfortunately, Mike Bellotti and his staff pulled the plug on Myles this fall and said that he was no longer a fit for their program. Enter Coach Ruff and Texas Tech. They started talking with Myles and finding out that this is a kid who has done everything that's been asked of him in hopes of getting to the Division 1 level. Myles finally decided to visit in late January. After he left Lubbock, Ruff and Leach practically followed him back up to Portland to meet his father and sister. After a lengthy and emotional in-home visit, Myles committed to Texas Tech. I for one will be rooting like hell for this kid to make it. He's been through a lot to get to where he is today and it's hard not to applaud a kid for doing everything possible to improve his situation despite the obstacles that kept piling up in front of him.

Now that you've read his story...let me state the obvious for why I listed him as the biggest project. Yes he's got plenty of rust that he's going to have to work off before he'll be ready to play Big 12 football (insert Dan Hawkins voice.) However, he's my "biggest project" because if and when he gets to Lubbock, gets fully qualified, and gets himself adjusted to football at the highest collegiate level, he gives the Red Raiders an explosiveness on the interior d-line that they've never had before. Combined with Pearlie Graves, they could form one of the most formidable run stopping duos in the conference for the next few years.

Don't Get Too Excited: James Scott, LB Coldspring (HS), TX. While he certainly passes the eye test at 6'3" 220" w/ 4.5 speed and the limited footage on him is very impressive...he's got a long ways to go before he'll qualify. It's likely that Tech will place him in a JUCO and keep in touch with him for the next two years and try to get him in the fold after that.

Glad to be back in the world of blogging...have a good weekend everybody!