Sam Atoe, a transfer who joined the team just before August workouts, could make Texas Tech’s two-deep at inside linebacker, defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt said Monday.
The battle for a backup spot appears to be between Atoe, who played the last two years at College of San Mateo (Calif.), and sophomore Malik Jenkins, who played mostly special teams last year as a true freshman.
Jenkins’ performance tailed off in spring practice, but Wallerstedt said the 6-foot-1, 212-pound Ennis graduate played well in Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage.
Atoe (5-11, 235) offers a bigger body and more experience. Wallerstedt considered Atoe at Raider outside linebacker, but the Red Raiders have more veteran players at that spot than inside.
Three inside linebacker spots in the two-deep appear locked up with returning starter Sam Eguavoen from Lakeview Centennial, Micah Awe from Summit and V.J. Fehoko, a senior transfer from Utah.
Justin Stockton, a 2,000-yard rusher each of the last two years at Cibolo Steele, will play as a true freshman this year, running backs coach Mike Jinks said. Demarcus Felton, who ran for 1,700 yards last year at Spring Dekaney, might, too.
But Stockton’s speed ensures he won’t redshirt.
“It’s elite. It’s special,” Jinks said. “He can go 60 in the blink of an eye with his ability to accelerate.”
Jinks said Felton has plus speed as well.
“They’ve got that ability to go 80 at any time,” Jinks said. “We’ve been lacking that here for the last couple of years, and I think they’ve brought that back.”
Jinks said Stockton and Felton could be used in a fashion similar to how 2013 senior Sadale Foster was used last season: at running back and slot receiver. Coaches limited starting tailback DeAndre Washington’s playing time in Saturday’s scrimmage to take a longer look at sophomore Quinton White and the two freshmen.
White displayed flashy moves in limited playing time last season, but the Red Raiders needed him to grasp the offense and be more reliable.
“Q was Q. He had a couple of those spin moves,” Jinks said, grinning. “The thing that I appreciated and enjoyed the most, he ran physical and he really added a toughness to our offensive team.”
Washington and White are the 1-2 at tailback with Stockton assured of a spot and Felton also under consideration.
“I think it depends on whether they can help us on special teams,” Jinks said. “If we feel like they’ll be able to help us on (special) teams, neither one of them will redshirt.”
Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said inside receiver Jakeem Grant “has had as good a camp at receiver as I’ve ever been around.” The junior from Mesquite Horn caught 65 passes for 796 yards and seven touchdowns last year. ... Not surprisingly, sophomore Davis Webb and freshman Patrick Mahomes have taken nearly all the snaps in 11-on-11 situations, so Kingsbury’s not sure who his third quarterback is right now. The candidates are freshmen walk-ons Hunter Rittimann from San Antonio Johnson, Payne Sullins from Waco Reicher and Vincent Testaverde from Tampa (Fla.) Jesuit.
Follow Don on Twitter