Jordan Davis’ name isn’t written in pencil behind Jace Amaro on Texas Tech’s post-spring football depth chart.
Though he joined the program as a walk-on and has seven career catches, Davis impressed new Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury so much this spring that he’s been put on scholarship, Kingsbury said.
“He impressed me the entire spring from day one,” Kingsbury said Thursday. “He’s a great route runner. Real savvy. He has some of that (Danny) Amendola, (Wes) Welker, as far as at the top of his routes. So I’m excited about him.”
The 5-foot-9 Arlington High product played the 2010 season at Southwestern Oklahoma State, catching 20 passes, then sent videotape to Tech coaches to get his foot in the door.
As a sophomore last season, Davis caught seven passes for 58 yards. During one of the team’s spring scrimmages, he caught seven for 85 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown from Davis Webb and an 8-yard touchdown from Michael Brewer.
“I’m excited about him,” Kingsbury said. “He adds depth at ‘Y’ (inside receiver).”
Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said senior flanker Javon Bell, who missed all of spring ball for academic reasons, is no longer on the team. His Tech career appears to be over.
“It’s done,” Kingsbury said of Bell’s time in limbo.
The speedy junior-college transfer played in four games last season, catching 17 passes for 269 yards and a touchdown before he suffered a broken foot that ended his season.
At the time he went down, Bell led the team in receiving yards and was three off the team lead in receptions. He also averaged 23 yards on three kickoff returns.
Junior Bradley Marquez goes into the summer as the starter at the position Bell played, backed by redshirt freshman Reginald Davis. Marquez caught 16 passes for 172 yards before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the seventh game.
Davis was one of the team’s most coveted signees in 2012. He was the Class 1A player of the year at Tenaha as a senior, throwing for 2,015 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushing for 1,915 yards and 36 TDs.
On board with game
Texas Tech’s discussions with Arkansas about renewing their football series predated Kliff Kingsbury’s mid-December hiring, but the Tech coach said he likes it for two reasons: Fan appeal and improving strength of schedule, which could be given more weight in college football’s postseason.
Tech hasn’t played such a marquee non-conference opponent since 2002 and 2003 when the Red Raiders had home-and-home series with Eli Manning-led Mississippi and North Carolina State-led Philip Rivers.
Tech and Arkansas this week announced an agreement to play in Lubbock in 2014 and in Fayetteville in 2015.
“I think it’s a great game for the fans, especially,” Kingsbury said. “With the home slate next year, it’s a great set of home games for the fans. I think that’s what Kirby (Hocutt) and I were really excited about was to put a product like that out there. To play an SEC team in a big game, that’d be good for the program.”
Kingsbury said Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt asked his opinion before moving forward. His response: It’s great for both programs.
“I think with a new head coach there (Bret Bielema), I know they’re excited,” Kingsbury said. “I don’t think Texas Tech’s played a major conference (opponent) in quite some time. I think it’s good for the program.
“With the way the BCS playoff committee deal is going, I think it’s important to schedule in that direction.”
The BCS will give way to the College Football Playoff in 2014, a setup in which a committee will be chosen to pick the four teams. The College Football Playoff website says the committee will choose the teams based on “their performance during the regular season, including strength of schedule, head-to-head results, championships won and other factors.”
“I think you want to be entertaining for the fans and position yourself in a good spot if that’s the way it’s going to be set up from now on,” Kingsbury said. “With the Big 12 having a nine-game schedule, obviously it’s tough, but if you want to compete at the highest level, that’s what you’re going to have to do now.”
Tech last played Arkansas in 1991.
Life after Simmons
Defensive lineman Delvon Simmons reportedly has visited Southern Cal and Miami (Fla.) since deciding two weeks ago to leave Tech. Simmons started 13 games last season, making 27 tackles and two sacks.
“I’m not sure of his thought process, but apparently that was an ongoing issue with him,” Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “We want guys that want to be here. If you don’t want to be here, you don’t need to be here.”
Asked if he had tried to persuade Simmons to stay, Kingsbury said, “If a kid from day one doesn’t want to be there, which apparently that was kind of how it went ... . We want kids that are excited to be at Texas Tech. That’s kind of my position on it.”
Simmons’ departure opens a hole for someone to join the two-deep. Senior Dennell Wesley and sophomore Donte Phillips are listed 1-2 at nose tackle on Tech’s post-spring depth chart. Junior Jackson Richards was listed behind Simmons at defensive tackle, so it’s an opportunity for Richards and perhaps redshirt freshman Anthony Smith.
“Jackson’s been here working all week,” Kingsbury said. “He’s steady, a solid guy, gives you everything he’s got. He’s really high energy, a real high-motor guy.”
Kingsbury said the only factors holding back Smith are conditioning and experience. The Spring Westfield product is listed at 5-foot-10 and 312 pounds, but he shows agility. During an April scrimmage, he hurried Michael Brewer into a third-down incomplete pass in the red zone and chased down a running back downfield.
“I don’t think he was in the best shape you can be in,” Kingsbury said, “but when he is going, he’s hard to block. He played some running back in high school and is really explosive. I think he’ll definitely be in some packages where we can let him just kind of be an athlete and do his thing.”
Big year for Bush
Defensive end Dartwan Bush stepped up to earn second-team All-Big 12 recognition last year as a junior, and Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury thinks Bush could be as good or better in the team’s new 3-4 front.
Kingsbury didn’t sound concerned about an arthroscopic surgery Bush underwent toward the end of spring.
“He’s a guy that you saw last year can be very productive and they have a hard time blocking him when he’s on,” Kingsbury said. “He had a little knee scope there late, but we expect him to be full go for summer workouts.
“I can see him in this scheme, with all the one-on-ones he’s going to get, having a really good year.”
The 6-foot-1, 255-pound Bush tied for seventh in the Big 12 last year in sacks with 51/2 and finished eighth in tackles for loss with 11 solos and two assists.