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Kingsbury says door 'halfway open' for Michael Starts' comeback

Former blue-chip signee Michael Starts could return

Posted: May 2, 2014 - 10:46pm  |  Updated: May 3, 2014 - 12:20am
LaVega standout football player Michael Starts reacts after being announced as a member of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl team during a ceremony Tues. Nov. 15 at La Vega High School.   DUANE A LAVERTY
DUANE A LAVERTY
LaVega standout football player Michael Starts reacts after being announced as a member of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl team during a ceremony Tues. Nov. 15 at La Vega High School.
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Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury says he’s given former blue-chip signee Michael Starts a chance to return to the program, but didn’t sound as if fans should get their hopes up.

Starts, who played briefly for the Red Raiders during the 2012 season and quit the team not long after, stirred interest among Tech fans when he showed up at a spring practice in March.

“We’re working through it,” Kingsbury said. “I think he’s got some academic stuff he’s got to handle, but I’m not opposed to that totally. So we’ll see how it plays out.”

The 6-foot-4, 300-pound lineman from Waco La Vega, once a nationally recruited prospect, stopped coming to Tech’s winter workouts after the 2012 season and left after the spring semester. He played in 2013 at Navarro College in Corsicana, not far from his hometown.

Kingsbury stressed that Starts has to meet academic requirements, making it uncertain whether he could be back by preseason workouts.

Kingsbury acknowledged he’s given Starts steps to follow if he wants to return to Tech.

Asked if the door’s open then, Kingsbury said, “It’s halfway open. We still have to sit down and discuss everything, but first and foremost he’s just got to get himself in position to have that conversation.”

Aside from Starts having to catch up academically, there’s the question of how his returning would be viewed after he stopped showing up for workouts last year.

Starts spent the 2012 season training at defensive tackle. Before his departure, Tech discussed moving him to the offensive line because of the Red Raiders’ shortage at that position last year.

Tech signed two junior-college offensive linemen and four junior-college defensive linemen this past winter.

Kingsbury said he’s not sure on which side Starts would play if he comes back.

“We’ll see. Just based on need,” he said. “I think we’re going to wait and see how these guys are that we get in here, see who can play for us and who can’t, and then we’d go from there.”

 

Keep working

Tech’s search for a starting cornerback in March and April included several candidates, but not Jeremy Reynolds.

Defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt said two months ago that Reynolds was eligible, but coaches were holding him out of spring practice to focus on priorities other than football.

“He’s handling academics right now,” Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “He’s another guy that we’ll have that conversation after this semester and see where he’s at and see where we go with him.”

Reynolds, a junior, played in three games in 2012 before suffering a season-ending knee injury, and four games in 2013.

Sophomore noseguard Anthony Smith also did little on the field this spring, Kingsbury said, and didn’t crack the two-deep.

“We basically wanted him to handle academics, and so that’s what he’s been focusing on, same deal,” Kingsbury said.

“We’ll see how that wraps up this spring and take it from there with him.”

 

Tickets watch

Tech has 1,800 season tickets remaining in its quest to sell out Jones AT&T Stadium on a season-ticket basis.

Tech topped 36,000 in season-ticket sales two weeks ago, not counting 12,577 that are reserved for students.

 

don.williams@lubbockonline.com

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