Nigel Bethel II had the talent to push for a starting job in Texas Tech’s inexperienced secondary.
He was the four-star gem of the 2014 recruiting class.
But, his stay was short in Lubbock after he was dismissed from the team less than 24 hours after hitting Lady Raider basketball star Amber Battle — who was suspended for the month of November on Friday — at the student recreation center June 28.
Texas Tech Athletics said in a news release that it “has a zero tolerance policy on this type of behavior.”
So Bethel, a 5-foot, 9-inch cornerback from Miami, is gone, and the Red Raiders have to look at other options in its defensive backfield.
Still, the Red Raiders can be optimistic about their young secondary.
When the depth chart was released after spring practice, the secondary was manned by four sophomores — Justis Nelson, J.J. Gaines, Keenon Ward and La’Darius Newbold. Senior Dorian Crawford, sophomores Dee Paul and Thierry Nguema and redshirt freshman Jalen Barnes were listed as the backups. Ward and Gaines are probably set to start at strong and free safety, respectively.
Defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt has said Gaines, who was performing at a high level last fall before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury five games into the year, will be hard to unseat. And Ward proved to coaches in spring practice that he’s able to lay out hits to go along with his speed.
But nailing down the identity of the cornerback opposite sophomore Justis Nelson was one of the major pre-spring objectives, and that is where Bethel figured to try to make an impact.
Newbold enters the fall as a first-teamer. But, like every other spot on the team, that could change in August. Dee Paul may be the most likely candidate to win the job if Newbold doesn’t lock it down. Newbold had his ups and downs this spring, and while Paul is one of the best athletes in the secondary, you can expect to see him on the field in some capacity.
Nguema is considered a frontrunner for the nickel position.
But where the Bethel dilemma could affect Tech the most is depth.