When Texas Tech started spring practices March 5, coaches initially put Terence Steele at left tackle and Madison Akamnonu at right tackle with the idea it could change. They quickly reversed the two redshirt freshmen: Akamnonu has spent most of the first six workouts at left tackle, but that’s no criticism of Steele’s work, based on Kliff Kingsbury singling him out again Thursday.
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said Thursday he’s not worried about Nigel Bethel II's eligibility as the junior cornerback sits out spring practice. Kingsbury said Tuesday that he wants Bethel focused on the classroom this semester.
“He’ll be fine with eligibility,” Kingsbury said. “Just wanted him to get his mind in the right place as far as academics go.”
Except for a couple of scrimmages, Texas Tech spring practices are closed to the public and media. So it’s up to Kliff Kingsbury and his players to share the highlights.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes II didn’t have to think long to come up with the most impressive catch of the first few days.
“So far, the best one has to be Zach Austin, actually today,” Mahomes said. “He ran a post over the middle, had a guy right on him and dove full out — had a one-handed catch for a touchdown. That was the main play that stands out.”
First-semester freshman Jett Duffey made the throw.
Jakeem Grant made The Associated Press All-America team last year as the third-team all-purpose player, and his departure leaves a void in the Texas Tech attack. Grant caught 90 passes for 1,268 yards and 10 touchdowns his senior year, threw a touchdown pass in a win at Arkansas, ran for the final TD in a victory at Texas and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.
Now quarterback Patrick Mahomes has to find a new security blanket.
Inside receiver Ian Sadler won’t do much during Texas Tech's spring workouts as a consequence of the knee injury that sidelined him for three games in October last season. Sadler described it at the time as a hyperextension.
Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said Tuesday that Sadler had “a procedure” on the knee. Coaches, aware of what he can do, won’t push him in spring practice.
Dylan Cantrell’s finally getting to compete for a starting job, seven months after he expected to.
The Texas Tech wide receiver says he has a clean bill of health after lower-back problems that cropped up in August derailed his 2015 season. The junior from Whitehouse, having not previously sat out, used it as a redshirt year.
“Just having the opportunity to come back and be able to get after it with (teammates) and compete with them has been a lot of fun,” Cantrell said after Tuesday’s spring-football workout, the Red Raiders’ first in pads.
Texas Tech went from tied for 107th in the FBS in turnovers gained two years ago to tied for 24th last season, and that’s not enough progress for David Gibbs.
Safety Keenon Ward said the Red Raiders’ second-year defensive coordinator is emphasizing the same thing he did last year.
“He’s focused on us making turnovers,” Ward said. “He came in the first day (of spring practice) and said, ‘We’re going to lead the nation in turnovers.' He says that every day.”
Tech came up with 25 takeaways last season, up from 15 the year before.
One of the attention-getting stories of the Texas Tech football offseason was Kliff Kingsbury’s hiring of U.S. Army veteran Rusty Whitt as strength and conditioning coach.
Tech hired Whitt on Jan. 9, and the Red Raiders have spent the last several weeks going through his offseason conditioning program.
“It’s been pretty intense,” senior safety Keenon Ward said Sunday, the second day of spring practice. “Probably the most intense strength and conditioning staff I’ve been around for the last four years. They’re serious about what they do.”
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said Friday the plan for wide receiver Devin Lauderdale is to return to school for the first summer session that starts in early June. Lauderdale has been suspended from school since the end of the fall semester.
The senior from Houston Bellaire was the Red Raiders’ second-leading receiver last season with 43 receptions, 639 yards and four touchdowns.
Texas Tech wide receiver Dylan Cantrell, who missed all of last season with back problems, will take part in spring practice. Offensive lineman Justin Murphy, who had surgery to repair a torn knee ligament he suffered in mid-October, will continue to rehab in the spring.
Center Conner Dyer will be a light participant, but isn’t fully released. Dyer, a redshirt freshman, suffered a season-ending knee injury in August.