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Tech looks for Evans, Jackson to contribute

Posted: March 1, 2012 - 11:42pm  |  Updated: March 2, 2012 - 1:17am
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Texas Tech's Branden Jackson looks to contribute this season for the Red Raider defense
Texas Tech's Branden Jackson looks to contribute this season for the Red Raider defense
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With Scott Smith gone from the 2011 front four, Texas Tech has a spot in the two-deep next season for a new defensive end. And anyone’s welcome to join the rotation who can help the Red Raiders improve on their puny sack total from last season.

The time will come, maybe as soon as next season, for Branden Jackson and Kindred Evans to play key roles. The Red Raiders love the potential of both young defensive ends, and they spent their first fall and winter at Tech trying to get bigger and stronger.

Jackson, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound redshirt freshman from McKeesport, Pa., has gained about 30 pounds since he reported to Lubbock last summer.

“That’s helped me be more confident,” Jackson said this week, “because I felt real skinny and I felt weak coming in last semester. The confidence helps a lot now that I’m stronger as I come off the edge. I know I’ve got to compete with people who have been playing since their freshman year, like Dartwan (Bush) and (Leon) Mackey and Jackson (Richards).

“They’re all stronger than me. Dartwan’s a lot quicker than me. So I’ve got to compete every day just to try to get my name out there and get a spot.”

Even though Jackson and Evans were new and undersized, both pushed to play early last season. Evans did, in fact, getting into three games before he suffered a sprained neck in practice that ended his season.

“The little success I had, that’s just a little boost for me next year and something for me to keep working toward,” said Evans, a 6-3, 239-pounder from South Grand Prairie.

Like Jackson, Evans said gaining weight and strength are his first orders of business. Evans has seen some lower-body strength improvements. He’s “still trying to put on as much muscle as I can up top.”

Learning the finer points of his position is an equally high priority. It helps going against second-team all-Big 12 left tackle LaAdrian Waddle every day in practice.

“He’s helped me work a lot on my pass rushing,” Evans said, “because he’s a real good pass blocker. He’s also helped me improve my hand skills. He’s real good with his hands, and his arms are super long, so if you don’t get your hand placement right he’ll mess you up.”

Though Evans spent much of last fall in the training room, he said he still managed to improve his skills.

“I learned more pass-rushing moves,” he said. “I learned how to keep my run fits, and then I learned how to steer the blocker on run plays, so that’s helped me out a lot.”

Through the first half of spring practice, Jackson has worked mainly left end along with Bush and Mackey, and Evans has been primarily on the right side with Richards and Chris Knighton.

Tech coaches prepared Jackson to play last season, but managed to redshirt him.

“My strength is my speed,” Jackson said. “They thought they could utilize that for passing downs right away, so I was supposed to play.

“Then after a while, as people progressed and got better, it was better for me to sit back and gain weight and get an extra year of football. Get to know the ropes — how practice goes, how school works and everything.”

From the first day he arrived, Jackson’s routine has included a heavy emphasis on gaining good weight. Each weekday morning, he heads to the Tech football facility to get a couple of protein shakes for breakfast. Then he takes with him a bag of assorted goodies — Nutra-Grain cereal bars, Clif bars, bagels — and Muscle Milk and other nutrient drinks. He eats several small meals throughout the day.

The regimen has him looking more like a Big 12 defensive end already. Jackson said he and strength and conditioning coach Joe Walker aren’t sure at what weight he’ll wind up playing.

“Me and coach Walker have talked many times,” Jackson said. “We just decided that I’m going to keep gaining weight until they see that I lose a step in my speed. Once he sees that I’m slowing down or I look stiff, then we’ll know we need to go back down to a certain weight until my body can handle it.”

To comment on this story:

don.williams@lubbockonline.com

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courtney.linehan@lubbockonline.com

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Today's Idea

As long as we're getting beat 66-6 at home by people who never won a game in Lubbock before 2010; here is what we need to do:

1. Bring in Dicky Grigg and fire Tubs. Don't spend the $2M x 4.

2. Give football scholarships to people who fit this description: A. Graduate in top 10% of high school class. B. Only graduates of Texas schools or children of Texas Tech alums who finished their UNDERGRADUATE work at LUBBOCK. C. No Partial Qualifiers. No Jucos. No transfers. D. Complete background check. Nothing close to a problem.

And you say: "We won't beat anybody."

And I say: Thanks for the punch line.

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@ AnalyzeThis

Analyze,

You are the punch line, sir.

Comments like yours make me laugh- this article was about two young men who have come to Lubbock, TX to represent Texas Tech, yet you respond with some off-topic, half-baked rant based on your obsession with a former football coach.

I think that about sums up you and your Team Leach friends. You can't support our student athletes because you're too busy being consumed by your Leach obsession.

The punch line doesn't have anything to do with winning and losing- no, you and your ilk are the punch line. Go post on the Moscow-Pullman Daily News website. No one wants to read your drivel here.

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2012

Not trying to be a sunshine pumper, but it seems like something very good is brewing with this team. There could be new faces in every position starting on defense that we didn't see last year. Anytime you bring in guys that are used to winning (riverside juco undefeated last year) they could very well bring that "it" factor to team because they are winners and are use to winning. Heres to a good 2012 season!

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@falconazul

I didn't see the term "Leach" employed by Analyze. I saw it only employed by YOU.

Your condescending manner is in the highest tradition of the egotists who destroyed our beloved athletics department in Lubbock. It reeks of people who have consumed called shot whiskey in certain suites at Jones AT&T.

I would suggest you go load up the egotists and get out of here--but it is impossible to locate their underground bunker.

Denial solves nothing. Lubbock was burned to the ground by the people who created those YOU describe as "Leachers." Not by the faithful.

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@ttu882

I'm with you.

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@Red

I'm an egotist because I want to support kids like Branden Jackson and Kindred Evans, who are doing their best to represent my alma mater? Interesting. What a bizarre comment, Red.

I'm not sure I know where to begin dissecting your odd rant. Perhaps you and Analyze are one in the same? He didn't need to mention our former coach by name, we are both familiar with his routine. Please tell me you're not so naive and ignorant as to believe he was legitimately commenting on the article above. He most certainly was not.

I, for one, am happy for these two young men and hope they are able to play a role in a successful season. Do you, Red?

I'm so tired of those like Analyze who want to do nothing but rant and exude pessimism and bitterness. Move on from the past and support those who are here. These students deserve at least that much.

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Analyze

You mentioned the 6-66 fact in your opening comment.

Hancers don't like facts. It burns them up.

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And Now The Censor Nazi's Have Arrived in Lubbock

Congratulations to the AJ for removing my post of yesterday. The post was entirely factual and contained no unsuitable language. Since the post did not paint a rosy picture of the debacle in Lubbock, IT WAS REMOVED.

Accordingly, here is today's post:

The great Tommy Tuberville's program is the finest we have ever seen in Lubbock. This coming season, I am certain Tech will have 8-10 All-Americans during their 13-0 National Championship season. Tech will draw 133,000 to each game and it will be announced during the season that Tuberville has discovered a cure for cancer.

Hooray.

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