Dakota Allen and D’Vonta Hinton gave the Texas Tech defense hope for the future last season with the way the two linebackers played as freshmen. Throughout spring practice, though, Kliff Kingsbury’s made it a point to praise Malik Jenkins when the talk turns to linebackers.
With good reason.
If the Tech coach was giving a career achievement award among current Red Raiders for most improved player from freshman year to now, Kingsbury said Jenkins would win it.
In Texas Tech’s ongoing search for reliable cornerback play, one candidate who spent last season mostly learning might emerge as a viable candidate next season.
Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury singled out Paul Banks III when asked Tuesday which cornerbacks had been the team’s best on a day-in, day-out basis in spring practice. The 6-foot-2, 178-pound senior from Houston Kashmere has the height that defensive coordinator David Gibbs likes, but Banks didn’t have much time to adapt after coming in from Navarro College.
Jett Duffey ran to his left a little bit and lofted the ball into the end zone.
That’s when Derrick Willies leaped and made an impressive play on the ball and fell into the end zone.
The 48-yard touchdown pass demonstrated the big-play ability of both Texas Tech newcomers.
Willies, a transfer from Trinity Valley Community College who caught 49 passes for more than 1,100 yards there, went viral on the internet this week with his 60-inch box jump.
MIDLAND — Justin Stockton was a change of pace back — in the game every now and then to use his explosive speed and quickness .
Cameron Batson was mostly relegated to punt return duty.
In Texas Tech’s spring scrimmage Saturday at Grande Communications Stadium, they were the Red Raiders’ main weapons.
Batson had five catches for 83 yards and a touchdown and Stockton only had three carries, but he made the most of them. The junior from Cibolo Steele rushed three times for 44 yards and two touchdowns.
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury questioned a television reporter’s use of the word “comfortability.”
“Is that a word by the way? I don’t believe it is,” Kingsbury said.
While the word isn’t in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary — even if it has found its way into many people’s lexicon — it describes exactly what Kingsbury hopes to see when the Red Raiders take to the field for a scrimmage at 1 p.m. Saturday at Grande Communications Stadium in Midland.
The Texas Tech offense doesn’t always push its up-tempo pace during spring practice.
Instead, Kliff Kingsbury and his staff are usually focused on getting good film that can help them teach the players the right techniques.
Saturday when the team travels down to Midland for a spring scrimmage, the cameras will still surely be on. However, Kingsbury expects the offense to be rolling as well.
Graduation’s changed the look of the Texas Tech football team since last season, most notably on the offensive and defensives lines, at tailback and inside receiver.
That’s not the case everywhere, though.
At flanker this spring, the Red Raiders have reset the clock to last spring: Reginald Davis and Dylan Cantrell are battling for a job again. Last year’s competition ended in August when Cantrell’s sacroiliac pain and soft tissue damage in his lower back became a season-ending development.
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said Thursday that Justin Stockton’s “going to be the guy this year,” his most significant endorsement so far of how the running back position could shake out in 2016.
Stockton’s been plenty productive his first two years, but as a change-of-pace back behind two-time 1,000-yard rusher DeAndre Washington, who was a senior last season.
Kingsbury made nods to sophomore Demarcus Felton and senior Quinton White when sizing up the running backs, but didn’t mention redshirt freshman Corey Dauphine.
When Texas Tech started spring practices March 5, coaches initially put Terence Steele at left tackle and Madison Akamnonu at right tackle with the idea it could change. They quickly reversed the two redshirt freshmen: Akamnonu has spent most of the first six workouts at left tackle, but that’s no criticism of Steele’s work, based on Kliff Kingsbury singling him out again Thursday.
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said Thursday he’s not worried about Nigel Bethel II's eligibility as the junior cornerback sits out spring practice. Kingsbury said Tuesday that he wants Bethel focused on the classroom this semester.
“He’ll be fine with eligibility,” Kingsbury said. “Just wanted him to get his mind in the right place as far as academics go.”
Kliff Kingsbury said on national signing day that he’d like to redshirt Jett Duffey next season and have former Iowa transfer Nic Shimonek, with whom he’s been impressed, be Texas Tech’s No. 2 quarterback.
That, Kingsbury said at the time, was in a perfect world.
The Red Raiders didn’t even make it through the first week of spring practice before the perfect world went off kilter. The hand injury that’s kept Shimonek out in March has given Duffey more chances in practice and raised the possibility that the Shimonek-as-backup/Duffey-redshirts scenario could change.
More than once this month, Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury’s been asked in which position group he takes the most interest during spring practice.
More than once, Kingsbury’s quickly pointed to the defensive line.
And with good reason. The Red Raiders have a promising corps of linebackers returning, and six defensive backs who have played a great deal.
But the defensive line? Beyond 13-game starter and Breiden Fehoko, no one’s firmly established with six seniors gone off the 2015 team.
For the Texas Tech offense to not miss a beat from the unit that finished second in the FBS last season in points and yards, some young receivers have to develop in a hurry to take on larger roles.
Cameron Batson and Jonathan Giles are OK with that.
Le’Raven Clark would prefer to be fishing on April 28-30.
Instead, the former Texas Tech offensive lineman said he’ll be at his home in Rockdale watching the television with family in friends as he awaits the phone call he has waited for nearly his entire life.
“I wish I could get away with (going fishing), but my family probably won’t let me get away with that,” said Clark, who is projected by most pundits to go in the second round of the NFL draft. “If I can sneak away from them maybe.”
The Twitter-verse just couldn’t contain itself.
Jakeem Grant was the fastest man alive!
He ran a 4.13.
No, a 4.1.
Grant was going to be a first-round pick. And believe me, he would be if that was his actual time.
The fastest time ever at the NFL combine belongs to Arizona Cardinals running back Chris Johnson. He ran a 4.24 in 2008. It’s been eight years and the record still stands. So, unless Usain Bolt or perhaps Barry Allen (The Flash) shows up at the combine next season, Johnson’s time likely won’t be matched or broken any time soon.