Texas Tech coaches have gone back and forth on whether to play sophomore Dylan Cantrell as an inside receiver or an outside receiver. He spent the 2013 regular season inside, but scrimmaged Saturday on the outside, at flanker/
Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said it was a recent move.
One of Davis Webb’ more impressive passes of the day was 26-yard touchdown shot to Cantrell, who was lined up outside.
“That was a great catch,” Kingsbury said. “Dylan has great hands. We recently moved him outside and I was excited to see him have success out there. He’s another kid who’s not selfish and who’s doing what’s best for the team.”
Reginald Davis, Cantrell and Shawn Corker scrimmaged at flanker with D.J. Polite-Bray and Dominique Wheeler at split end.
The player most benefiting from Cantrell’s move is Zach Austin, a redshirt freshman from Lake Travis. Austin, who started spring as the third-string Y inside receiver behind Cantrell, got a lot of playing time Saturday with the second unit and caught a team-high seven passes for 63 yards.
On the next-to-last series of the scrimmage, Austin caught a 10-yard pass over the middle and took a big lick from safety Keenon Ward but held on.
Change of plans
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said senior inside receiver Bradley Marquez will not play pro baseball this summer for the first time since 2011. Marquez has spent school years with the Red Raiders and the summers of 2012 and 2013 in the New York Mets’ minor-league system.
“Now, he’s not done for good, but not (playing baseball) this summer,” Kingsbury said after the team’s scrimmage Saturday. “He’s going to stick around and work out.”
Kingsbury sounded excited about what Marquez can achieve.
“He’s going to stick around this summer,” Kingsbury said, “which is going to be huge for us as a team and his leadership, being here all summer. I really think you’ll see some evolution from him as a player to get that work during the summer instead of having to make it up during fall camp.”
Marquez is the Red Raiders’ second-leading returning receiver, coming off a junior season of 49 catches for 633 yards and six touchdowns.
Linebackers Andre Ross and Kris Williams and defensive tackle Keland McElrath all took part in Saturday’s scrimmage, which constituted good news for the Tech defense.
Defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt said last week that McElrath had gotten back on the field after being bothered since last season with a foot stress fracture.
Williams suffered a torn ACL in August, and Wallerstedt was not expecting to see him back in the mix before late spring, if at all. And Ross had a back issue over the winter that kept him out at the beginning of spring.
All the team’s spring practices before Saturday were closed, but Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said Williams and Ross returned about a week ago.
“They’re coming off of it, they’ve got a long way to go,” Kingsbury said, “but it’s good to see them back out there full speed.”
The first half of last season, Ross was the backup to starting outside linebacker Pete Robertson.
Outside linebackers coach Mike Smith has said Williams’ thick build could give the team some help against power-running offenses that hurt the Red Raiders last season. When Williams gets back up to speed, Smith wants him to play a strong-side linebacker spot.
Symmank’s solid day
Punter Taylor Symmank averaged 50.8 yards with good hang time on eight punts during a special-teams segment. Two caveats: It wasn’t a live period, so there was no rush, and Symmank had a south wind at his back.
Nevertheless, it’s no secret the junior from McKinney Boyd has a strong leg, so strong that he briefly took the job from senior Ryan Erxleben last September. He punted 12 times for a 42-yard average, but didn’t show the consistency coaches wanted.
“He’s one of the more talented legs I’ve been around,” Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “It’s just last year, I didn’t think mentally he handled it very well. The job is his to lose now. He’s been showing up all spring, and I expect a great year.”
Symmank is a grandson of Bob Ward, the Tom Landry-era Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning coach. He was a kicker and soccer player at McKinney Boyd and didn’t learn to punt until after graduating high school.
Among the players who sat out Saturday were SEs Devin Lauderdale and Derreck Edwards and DE Branden Jackson. Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said Lauderdale had a staph infection and Edwards and Jackson both had been bothered by headaches. He said he expects all three back for Monday’s practice. He said Edwards and Lauderdale had missed a couple of workouts each. ... Jackson’s being held out gave DE Zach Barnes a chance to go with the first team. ... NT Donte Phillips had a touch sack on QB Tanner Tausch and a tackle for loss on FB Rodney Hall, both in the first half of the scrimmage. ... Tech has to replace its placement-kicks holder with the departure of P Ryan Erxleben, and IR Bradley Marquez is the first choice. “It’s pretty new,” Marquez said, “but it’s kind of second nature. Just catch it and put it down. There’s not much to it.” Kingsbury said Marquez “has some of the best hands on the team, and he wanted to do it.” ... No. 2 QB Tanner Tausch was 17 of 27 for 125 yards. Tausch didn’t get the offense into the end zone, but he didn’t commit any turnovers. “He’s still learning,” Kingsbury said. “I thought he operated well. We didn’t put the ball in the end zone as much as we would have liked, but he’s about two weeks into the system. He handled the ball and protected the ball, for the most part.” ... Tech’s first offensive line consisted of LT Le’Raven Clark, LG Alfredo Morales, C Tony Morales, RG Baylen Brown and RT Rashad Fortenberry. ... OLBs Pete Robertson and Kris Williams and DT Tyler Scalzi each got credit for a sack or had a play whistled dead by breaking the pocket. Robertson and DT Demetrius Alston each had a QB pressure. ... ILB Malik Jenkins and CBs Justis Nelson and La’Darius Newbold each broke up a pass.
Compiled by Don Williams