Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
It was a little bit like being a rock star, with some football heroics thrown in for good measure.
But as Texas Tech backup quarterback Steven Sheffield left the field Saturday after directing the Red Raiders’ 48-28 victory over New Mexico, he was thrilled when Tech fans started chanting his name.
“I was excited,” said Sheffield, who took over as the Red Raiders quarterback after Taylor Potts sustained a concussion late in the first half. “I loved every bit of it. All of the signs and the attitude they bring. We kind of have the same attitude. I lived it and I’m glad I got the opportunity.”
When his chance came, Sheffield was ready to make the most of it. He finished his first drive with a 25-yard touchdown strike to Alex Torres as time expired in the first half to account for his first TD pass. That started a binge of four scoring possessions on his first four drives.
Sheffield, known as “Sticks” by his teammates and coaches because of his lanky 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame, produced career-best totals of 238 passing yards and three touchdown passes to spark the victory.
It was like Sheffield had always dreamed. He came into the Texas Tech program from the Austin suburb of Pflugerville as an invited walk-on, ready for a chance to play if it ever materialized. And when Potts went down after a couple of sacks late in the first half, Sheffield picked up the Red Raiders.
“’Being the backup, you’ve always got to do as much as a starter as far as film study and what you’ve got to know about your opponent and what not,” Sheffield said. “I don’t get as many reps as the starter throughout the week of practice but at the same time you know that you don’t take every rep for granted.”
Potts was admitted to a Lubbock hospital after the game, where he rested until he was released Sunday afternoon. His status is not known for the Red Raiders’ Big 12 opener Saturday against Kansas State.
Texas Tech coach Mike Leach was typically evasive when he addressed Potts’ injury today on the Big 12’s coaches media teleconference.
“First of all, we never acknowledge an injury,” Leach said when asked if Potts he could play. “So since he’s not injured, I think he could.”
But Leach was pleased by the efforts of Sheffield, who had only six career attempts before Saturday’s game.
“He kind of sparked the efforts of our entire team,” Leach said. “He just creates a high level of tempo.”
Sheffield’s recruitment is an interesting one. Tech coaches became interested in him only after current Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy backed out of his commitment with the Red Raiders. That Leach left scrambling and he decided he wanted the tall, skinny kid with the crewcut.
When Sheffield found out, he was headed for Texas A&M University at Kingsville on a recruiting trip. He was jostled from sleeping in the back seat by his parents to talk with Leach, who told him he was interested. Sheffield never looked back at the decision not to join the Javelinas or play regularly in the Lone Star Conference.
And like a true backup quarterback, Sheffield vows to prepare this week like he’ll get another shot at playing on Saturday.
“If my number is called again, I’ll be ready just like I was this time,” Sheffield said. “I’m going to watch just as much film as anybody else and when Leach is going over the game planner for this week, I’ll be taking notes and seeing what I need to do. Kansas State, I'm ready.”