Texas Tech wide receiver Eric Ward will return for his senior year, new coach Kliff Kingsbury confirmed Friday. Ward, who already has a degree from Tech and a young son, had considered giving up his last year of eligibility.
“We’re very excited to get him back,” Kingsbury said. “We all know he’s a tremendous player. He had a tough decision. He has a family. He’s graduated. For him to come back and want to represent Texas Tech one more year is huge. To have a senior leader wide receiver in that room, I think, is going to go a long way.”
Ward caught 84 passes for 800 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2011, then caught 82 passes for 1,053 yards and 12 TDs in 2012.
Retaining Ward is considered significant because the Red Raiders lose five senior receivers: Darrin Moore, Tyson Williams, Alex Torres, Austin Zouzalik and Marcus Kennard.
Kingsbury said there had been “some attrition” during the semester break among players with eligibility remaining, but was not ready to say who might be gone.
The dates for Tech spring practices and the Red-Black Game are still to be determined. The only thing that seems sure is the Red Raiders won’t begin as early as they did the last two years under Tommy Tuberville.
In 2010 and 2011, the team started spring ball in February and actually completed most of the workouts before the first day of spring.
“I know it will be later,” new coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “We want to get them in the weight room, give them an extended amount of time to get with our strength coaches and then learn the offense. Be in meetings, learn the offense and have a good feel for it before we get going.”
On same page
The hiring of strength and conditioning coach Chad Dennis made sense to new Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury because the two worked together at Houston and Texas A&M.
Kingsbury said based on that, he knew Dennis shared his philosophies.
“He’s big on making better football players,” Kingsbury said. “He’s not a big Olympic-lift type, break records in the weight room. He wants you to break records on the field. I share the same sentiment, so it’s been a good fit.”
Excited by Jinks
The nine assistants Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury assembled comprise six coaches coming from other universities, one holdover from the Tommy Tuberville staff, one NFL assistant and one high school head coach.
The latter is Mike Jinks, hired to be the Red Raiders’ running backs coach after a good run at Cibolo Steele, a Class 5A high school in the San Antonio area. Jinks has a 79-25 record, including 76-18 at Steele, where he was head coach since the program started in 2005.
“Any high school coach you talk to, they’ll list him right up there with the top,” Kingsbury said. “I couldn’t be more happy and more thrilled that he wanted to be part of this.”
The 40-year-old Jinks, a former Angelo State quarterback, had been subject to speculation for a few years that he would leave Steele for a college job. He led the Knights to a state championship in 2010, a state final in 2011 and a state semifinal in 2012, all in the Class 5A Division II bracket.
“He’s one of the most respected high school coaches in the state,” Kingsbury said. “I’ve known him a long time, and he’ll do a great job for us.”
Compiled by Don Williams