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Texas Tech notebook: DeAndre Washington looks strong out of the backfield

Third-year sophomore rushes for 40-yard TD during scrimmage

Posted: April 6, 2013 - 8:18pm  |  Updated: April 7, 2013 - 12:27am
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Texas Tech's Going Band From RaiderLand marches through the parking lot of tailgaters before a spring practice in Midland Saturday. (Stephen Spillman)  Stephen Spillman / AJ Media
Stephen Spillman / AJ Media
Texas Tech's Going Band From RaiderLand marches through the parking lot of tailgaters before a spring practice in Midland Saturday. (Stephen Spillman)
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Washington provides top highlight

MIDLAND — DeAndre Washington didn’t show much rust when Texas Tech held its first public scrimmage of the year Saturday.

The sophomore running back, who redshirted last season after suffering a major knee injury at the end of his freshman year, took a counter handoff on Tech’s third series of the day, darted to his left and turned on the afterburners en route to a 40-yard touchdown run.

The play might not have had too much meaning for most of the 7,136 on hand at Grande Communications Stadium. For Washington, it represented another rung reached on the ladder he’s been climbing since he suffered a torn knee ligament almost 17 months ago at Missouri.

“It was a positive step forward,” Washington said. “Being back on the field, being back in the atmosphere with the guys, it was definitely a positive step going in the right direction.”

Tech running backs coach Mike Jinks has been impressed with the work ethic Washington has displayed through the first half of spring practice. He’s hungry, Jinks said. Ready to prove he can turn heads after a season on the sidelines.

“I think he was anxious about being out here and being tackled today,” Jinks said. “For that first run to be an explosive run like that, I think it’s going to go a long way for his confidence.”

Washington has no regrets about sitting out last season. Though he was probably ready to contribute physically, his mental state wasn’t quite where it needed to be coming off the first major injury he had ever experienced.

“I think that was huge,” Washington said of the redshirt season. “I’m glad I did it. There’s still more work to do, but I definitely feel like I’m back physically where I was my freshman year.”

Running back has been projected as a position of strength for the Red Raiders heading into Kliff Kingsbury’s first season. With Kenny Williams sidelined by a minor hamstring injury — Jinks said Williams will be back next week — redshirt freshman Quinton White took advantage of some extra opportunities in the scrimmage, rushing for touchdowns of 10 and 3 yards.

Jinks likes the developments, but he still sees plenty of room for improvement.

“We’ve all got a long way to go,” Jinks said. “They did some good things. They didn’t turn the ball over. But we’ve got to improve on our runs, improve on our protections and become more consistent.”

Working overtime

Few Texas Tech units were as taxed during Saturday’s scrimmage as the offensive line.

With only seven scholarship players regularly rotating in and out from drive to drive, there was little time to rest for most members of a group that still has plenty to prove.

“They’ve really got to man up and take a lot of reps,” Kingsbury said of the linemen. “So I’m proud of the way they handled this weather. It was a little hot out here, but they did a good job pushing through.”

Tech opened with Le’Raven Clark at left tackle, Tony Morales at left guard, Jared Kaster at center, Trey Keenan at right guard and Beau Carpenter at right tackle. Carpenter was in for Rashad Fortenberry, who’s been out with a sprained ankle.

Only two of those players — Clark and Carpenter — started a game last season. Kingsbury made it clear the lineup is far from set in stone.

“With the numbers we’re at, we’re trying to figure out our best five,” he said. “We’ve got five players coming in fall camp, and we expect some of those guys to play. So we’re just kind of shuffling guys around right now.”

Marquez enjoys home crowd

For Bradley Marquez, Texas Tech’s scrimmage in Midland was a homecoming of sorts.

The junior wide receiver played his high school football at Odessa High, about 20 minutes from Grande Communications Stadium, so he had a large group of friends and family on hand Saturday.

Too bad he wasn’t able to show off his talent to his personal fan club.

Marquez, who is still recovering from the torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered last season, was held out of the scrimmage, along with linebacker Terrance Bullitt, wide receiver Eric Ward, running back Kenny Williams and cornerbacks Derrick Mays and Jeremy Reynolds, among others.

“I wanted to be out there,” Marquez said with a smile. “I was itching for it. I kept asking too see if I could get out there somehow. They kept shooting me down.

“But everyone is looking at what is best for in the future, so that’s what we have to look ahead to.”

For the second straight summer, Marquez plans to play baseball in the New York Mets’ minor-league system before returning to Tech in time for preseason camp.

For now, though, he’s just focused on becoming fully healthy after dealing with numerous injuries the past year.

“Everything’s coming along really well,” Marquez said, “faster than expected. That’s why I’ve got to come out here and do spring (drills). It’s been going good. I’ve got a little ways to go, just have to get my speed back a little more. But as far as practice and everything goes, I feel good.”

Chance to impress

With five seniors lost from Tech’s 2012 receiving corps and Eric Ward sitting out Saturday’s scrimmage, there was room for younger receivers to impress coaches. Among those who made a mark were junior Shawn Corker and redshirt freshmen Reginald Davis and Dominique Wheeler.

Corker caught a 35-yard touchdown pass, just five days after he moved from safety back to flanker. Corker has spent his career bouncing between offense and defense.

Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said he sees Corker as a more natural receiver, adding that he can do some things others at his spot can’t.

“He does some good things route-wise, as far as being dynamic in his releases and understanding leverage,” said co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie, who coaches receivers. “His biggest deal is just continuing to work on his hands.”

Wheeler, a split end, turned a short pass into a 24-yard gain. Davis, a flanker, darted 30 yards with a tunnel screen and made a leaping catch in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown.

“Last year, he didn’t know what he was doing,” wide receivers coach Sonny Cumbie said of Davis, “but anytime we got into a game setting, he would make plays. Some kids just have it, and I think that kid does.”

Cumbie said Derreck Edwards also had a good week of practice, though he was held to one catch for 7 yards Saturday.

Compiled by Nick Kosmider
and Don Williams

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Freshmen looked awesome!!

Loved seeing some of the new freshmen like Regi and Dominic get into action. Regi is so smooth. And on the defense it is easy to see why Kevan Ward is projected a starter as a freshman. That guy looks awesome!!!

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Ward

Would that be Keenon Ward? Glad he looks good! We need some help at corner and safety.

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