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Hard work paying off for Red Raiders offensive line

Tech coaching staff optimistic about progress

Posted: April 15, 2013 - 9:41pm  |  Updated: April 16, 2013 - 12:25am
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Texas Tech's Le'Raven Clark will look to build off his experience starting as a true freshman last season. (Stephen Spillman/A-J Media)  Stephen Spillman/A-J Media
Stephen Spillman/A-J Media
Texas Tech's Le'Raven Clark will look to build off his experience starting as a true freshman last season. (Stephen Spillman/A-J Media)
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Le’Raven Clark won’t try to hide it. He admits he was among the Texas Tech offensive linemen who were clutching their knees during the first few practices of spring camp late last month.

“Those practices were taxing everybody,” Clark said with a laugh.

Tech’s 6-foot-5, 303-pound left tackle said Monday he is beginning to find his legs now, and he believes the rest of his teammates up front are doing the same, evidenced by the strong finish during Friday night’s scrimmage, when the offense scored on eight straight drives.

“We’re progressing further from where we were,” Clark said. “Most of the guys don’t have a lot of experience outside of me and Beau Carpenter. Alfredo Morales does, but Alfredo is out right now. So we have a bunch of young guys getting used to it, getting used to the tempo and all the calls.”

Though he only has one year of college experience under his belt, Tech is leaning on Clark to become an anchor for a young, unproven unit as he moves from guard to left tackle to replace longtime starter LaAdrian Waddle.

There are plenty of reasons for the coaching staff to be optimistic. They are in store for big things out of Clark, who last season was named a freshman All-American.

“I think what makes him special is his size and athletic ability,”Tech offensive line coach Lee Hays said. “But the things that jump out to me is how smart he is. He’s one of the smartest linemen I’ve ever coached. He’s a really, really sharp guy.”

Clark, who also garnered numerous academic honors last season, said he believes he has picked up the different intricacies of playing tackle quickly. Getting his hands out in front of him and quickening his footwork in order to keep defenders from darting inside are two areas of focus.

“Any time you get a guy like Le’Raven anywhere on the line, that’s a big asset,” Tech quarterback Michael Brewer said. “Having him at left tackle, he’s going to do really well. He did really well at guard. The transition for him from guard to tackle has been really smooth. He’s been picking it up nicely.”

The offensive line as a whole, of course, is one of the team’s question marks as the final week of spring approaches given its vast inexperience.

Hays is cautious to gauge too much into the unit’s growth at this stage.

“Right now we have to fine-tune and get better,” Hays said, ”just fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals.”

Hays said the conditioning of the line is “not where our standard is, but they know where we need to be. They’re pushing and working hard, and I’m pleased with that part of it.”

Quarterback transfer

Tech quarterback Dustin Walton has elected to transfer, he announced on his Twitter account Monday.

Walton had been unable to move up the depth chart since arriving at Tech as a transfer from New Mexico and sitting out last season.

Walton said on Twitter he was transferring to Colorado State-Pueblo, an NCAA Division II school.

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