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Red Raiders getting bigger and - they hope - better

Several Tech players gain weight to bulk up defensive line

Posted: July 24, 2014 - 6:01pm  |  Updated: July 25, 2014 - 12:15am
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When Texas Tech was giving up an average of 282 rushing yards per game last year during a five-game losing streak, a lack of bulk in the front seven was viewed by many as part of the problem.

Heavier players aren’t necessarily a panacea, but the Red Raiders will have some this season, and not just among the four junior-college defensive linemen they signed.

Based on Tech’s summer roster and what players themselves have reported, several key veterans have put on weight since last season. Among them: defensive end Branden Jackson, defensive tackle Demetrius Alston and linebackers Micah Awe, Sam Eguavoen, Pete Robertson and Austin Stewart.

Tech’s new media guide, available during this week’s Big 12 media days in Dallas, has updated heights and weights that Tech spokesman Blayne Beal said are from this summer.

The 6-foot-4 Jackson said recently he’s up to 271 pounds, and the 6-3 Alston went through spring at 267.

Jackson played last season between 248 and 252.

“He’s 270, and it showed,” Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “He was much more physical (during spring practice).”

Jackson said after spring practice he expected to top out around 275, then would consult with coaches and the strength and conditioning staff to determine his ideal playing weight. He’s been as heavy as 262 earlier in his career, so it’s not the first time he’s added significant pounds.

“At first, it was an adjustment putting on the weight and carrying it,” Jackson said. “But once I got the pads on and started moving, I saw that having that extra weight helped and saw the power that I gained from gaining weight while strength and conditioning.

“I like being a heavier player as long as it doesn’t make me lose a step. As of right now, I feel like I move pretty fine at 270.”

Awe, a 6-foot middle linebacker, started last season at 212 and was up to 223 this spring. Weight retention has been an issue for him in the past.

Kingsbury said Awe carried his added weight well this spring.

“In our league, I don’t know how essential that is,” Kingsbury said. “There’s certain games you’ve got to be big. Most of the time, you’ve got to be able to run in this league and cover those guys. So there’s a fine line there, but I thought he moved around good enough.”

Stewart, a 6-foot Raider outside linebacker, played last season at 215 and is now listed at 223. Robertson, a 6-3 bandit outside linebacker, is listed at 236, about 10 pounds more than last season. Kenny Williams, making the switch from running back to primarily outside linebacker, is listed at 5-11 and 228.

Kingsbury said Williams “put on weight like we asked him to.”

The 6-1 Eguavoen said this week he’s weighing 230, up about five pounds from last season.

Tech needs to be more physical against the run, regardless how the Red Raiders go about it.

Tech ranked next to last in the Big 12 in rushing defense last season. In conference games, the Red Raiders allowed 27 rushing touchdowns and 228.2 yards per game on the ground.

Other players who are significantly heavier than last fall: running back DeAndre Washington (5-8, 201), guard Cody Hayes (6-4, 306), outside linebackers Andre Ross (6-2, 234) and Jacarthy Mack (6-1, 196), noseguards Anthony Smith (6-0, 331) and Bennett Ofor (6-3, 275) and cornerback Brandon Bagley (5-10, 182).

The Red Raiders’ reporting day is Aug. 3, and the first practice is Aug. 4.

 

don.williams@lubbockonline.com

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