Justin Stockton, a 2,000-yard rusher each of the last two years at Cibolo Steele, will play as a true freshman this year, running backs coach Mike Jinks said. Demarcus Felton, who ran for 1,700 yards last year at Spring Dekaney, might, too.
But Stockton’s speed ensures he won’t redshirt.
“It’s elite. It’s special,” Jinks said. “He can go 60 in the blink of an eye with his ability to accelerate.”
Jinks said Felton has plus speed as well.
Sam Atoe, a transfer who joined the team just before August workouts, could make Texas Tech’s two-deep at inside linebacker, defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt said Monday.
The battle for a backup spot appears to be between Atoe, who played the last two years at College of San Mateo (Calif.), and sophomore Malik Jenkins, who played mostly special teams last year as a true freshman.
Jenkins tailed off in spring practice, but Wallerstedt said the 6-foot-1, 212-pound Ennis graduate played well in Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage.
Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 315
High school: Arlington Houston
Last year: Morales was hurt — last year and the year before that and the year before that. The most luckless Tech player in terms of injuries, the one-time high-profile recruit missed 2011 with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, missed 2012 with a strained knee ligament and missed 2013 with a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
Position: Strong safety
Ht./Wt.: 6-0, 189
Class-Exp.: Redshirt freshman
High school: Port Arthur Memorial
Last year: Barnes suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in mid-August last year and underwent surgery. That ensured he’d use his redshirt season. He returned to practice on a non-contact basis before the Holiday Bowl and went through spring drills with coaches still being careful to protect his shoulder.
Tech Roster Analysis
Position: Free safety
Ht./Wt.: 6-0, 189
High school: Seminary, Miss.
Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 302
High school: Wadesboro, N.C.
Last year: In his second year at Highland (Kan.) Community College, Smith got credit for 49 tackles, 41/2 sacks and 31/2 tackles for loss. His team finished 6-4. Smith signed a financial aid agreement with Tech at mid-term, but did not finish his coursework and transfer in until after the spring semester.
Ht./Wt.: 6-2, 348
High school: South San Francisco, Calif.
Position: Defensive lineman
Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 275
High school: Southlake Carroll
Last year: Mostly a defensive end earlier in his career, Richards increased his usefulness by playing inside and taking a lot of snaps at noseguard. He played in every game, starting four, and was credited with 15 tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack. He also caused a fumble, recovered two, batted a couple of passes and had a key interception against TCU.
Texas Tech special teams coach Darrin Chiaverini is focusing his search for a punt-return specialist on senior Jordan Davis and true freshmen Cameron Batson and Ian Sadler. All three are inside receivers.
Evaluating return men can be tricky since there’s generally little, if any, contact during special-teams periods in practice.