The football field inside Jones AT&T Stadium is a little more than 53 yards wide, but that wasn’t enough space to contain the line of fans waiting to get Kliff Kingsbury’s autograph after Texas Tech’s spring game on Saturday.
Not even close.
Kingsbury sat underneath a red canopy on the east side of the field, and fans lined up along the south 45-yard line, all the way past the west sideline, to the west wall of the stadium, then back up to the north 5-yard line.
“We feel like it’s one of our own coming back to lead this thing,” said long-time Red Raider fan Justin McGraw, who tailgated for his seventh consecutive Tech spring game. “I really expect to see that hardcore Tech football excitement to be back.”
The excitement surrounding the football team continues to rise. Tech set a spring game attendance record Saturday with 16,116 fans, many of whom were there to see Kingsbury and the Red Raiders in action for the first time this spring.
Another long-time fan, Lubbock native Santos Perez, has also been a regular at past Red Raiders spring games, and he agreed this year was different.
“I think the spring game was a whole lot better than what it has been in years before because Kliff wants to be here and we’re all excited to see how the new team is going to come out this year,” Perez said.
Perez showed up three hours before the 1 o’clock kickoff to join family members that arrived at the stadium much earlier to find parking spots. McGraw said fans arrived before 7 a.m. to secure the spaces closest to the west side of the stadium.
“I don’t think a lot of folks give us credit on the environment of our stadium,” McGraw said. “Anybody that’s gone to a game at Kyle Field or down in Austin, yeah they are huge stadiums. They seat a lot of people, they’ve got all their traditions and all the crazy stuff they do during the games ... but I’ve been to both of those stadiums many times, been on the field in both of those stadiums, and our atmosphere compares 100 percent, if not more, to any of them.”
The atmosphere inside the stadium wasn’t quite that of a home game, but for a glorified scrimmage, the 16,000-plus fans were alive.
“(Tommy) Tuberville came along and we all tried to get on board, but he never really built that electricity with the program,” McGraw said. “Now with Kliff back, being a former Red Raider player, being a Tech alum, I think there’s a lot more spirit behind it. There’s really a lot more electricity behind it.”
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