Texas Tech’s second-team offensive line — a big question mark — currently consists of left tackle Madison Akamnonu, left guard Emeka Okafor, center Tony Morales, right guard Robert Castaneda and right tackle Terence Steele, line coach Lee Hays said Wednesday.
Akamnonu and Steele are true freshman. Castaneda’s a redshirt freshman, Okafor a graduate transfer from Houston and Morales a fifth-year senior who’s never played because of injuries.
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury on Wednesday singled out flanker Dylan Cantrell and noseguard Rika Levi as early standouts in preseason drills.
Cantrell’s been vying with fellow junior Reginald Davis for the starting flanker job.
“He was solid last year,” Kingsbury said, “but he’s really taken that next step and made a ton of big plays. We’ve been very pleased with him.”
The 6-foot-2 Levi has dropped his weight to the current 325 pounds — 75 less than what he once weighed in junior college and down from the 348 to 350 at which he played last season.
Texas Tech’s pre-practice team meeting on Wednesday turned out to be anything but routine for Talor Nunez.
The sophomore defensive lineman from Midland Lee was told in front of the team he’d been placed on scholarship. Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury highlighted top classroom performers from the summer II session, then showed a practice clip of Nunez.
“He was just pointing out positive things,” Nunez said, “and out of nowhere — it was kind of like a left hook — he said, ‘And on top of that, you’re on scholarship.’”
Defensive tackle Josh Outlaw is wearing No. 2 during Texas Tech's preseason practice, which started Thursday.
That's a switch from the No. 58 that Outlaw wore during his first two years in the program. He's a 6-foot-4, 309-pound sophomore from Lithonia, Georgia, Martin Luther King.
Tech has four defensive linemen suiting up in single digits, the others being freshman tackle Breiden Fehoko (No. 4), sophomore defensive end Gary Moore (No. 5) and senior defensive end Branden Jackson (No. 9).
Two years ago, Texas Tech coaches compared defensive end Gary Moore’s build to that of Branden Jackson, the player he trains behind. Jackson’s grown to 6-foot-4 and 272 pounds whereas Moore, at 6-5, remains slim.
“Last time I heard, he was at 230, which for him is like 300,” defensive coordinator David Gibbs said.
Someone might call Moore skinny.
“He is,” Gibbs said, “but he is a tough, strong skinny dude.”
Moore played in 11 games as a redshirt freshman, on special teams and pass-rush packages. He was credited with seven tackles.
When Texas Tech signed five offensive linemen in February, line coach Lee Hays thought Terence Steele, being young for his class, might need the most time to develop.
He made a good first impression, though.
“I projected him to be a little bit behind, but that hasn’t been the case,” Hays said. “And his work ethic has been unbelievable. The o-line, to a man, when I asked who got the ooey gooey pie or the ooey gooey cake as hardest-working freshman at the end of the summer, they all pointed to him.”
Andre Ross has spent as much time on the sidelines as he has on the football field during his first two years at Texas Tech, derailing his bid to be a pass-rush contributor.
The senior from Calvert is running out of time, but feels prepared to make up for the lost time.
“I feel pretty healthy and strong, ready to go now,” Ross said.
Tech starts preseason practice on Thursday. Ross will compete with sophomore Gary Moore for backup snaps at defensive end behind Branden Jackson.
Texas Tech offensive lineman Poet Thomas has been moved to guard after spending his first two years in the program at tackle. That takes him out of the mix for the right tackle job.
The 6-foot-6, 325-pound sophomore from Beverly Hills, Michigan, could offer more bulk inside, a la James Polk, a 2014 senior who played both guard and tackle.
“He gives us a little bit more meat inside, where maybe we can push some people around,” line coach Lee Hays said.
Texas Tech wide receiver Reginald Davis said a suspension could be in the cards in the wake of his May 5 arrest.
“From what I’ve heard, I may miss the first half of the Sam Houston State game,” Davis said Tuesday, referring to the season opener. “It just made me look at life from a different angle. I should be grateful for everything I have.”
Among Texas Tech’s freshman receivers, Donta Thompson and Tony Brown are slotted to play split end – “X” in Tech’s vernacular – Keke Coutee and Quan Shorts will start out at H inside receiver and Jonathan Giles will train at Y inside receiver.
That’s the plan, coach Kliff Kingsbury said, for when the Red Raiders start practice Aug. 5.
Thompson, who was 6-foot-3 and 193 pounds when he reported this summer, could play inside or outside.