Today we continue our look across the league at a few players from each team who had low profiles last year, but you'd better get to know before Saturday. They just might be household names by season's end.
More fresh faces:
Will Smith, LB: Smith's about to become the fresh prince of Texas Tech's defensive backfield. The juco transfer walked into the spring and before it was even over, had already secured a starting spot at middle linebacker. The 6-foot-3, 224-pounder showed up in West Texas via California and racked up 13 tackles for loss during his undefeated season in junior college last year. You never know how guys will handle the transition, but expect Smith to do well and fit in as a major piece that Tech's defense needed badly.
Delvon Simmons, DT: Simmons' growth is paramount to Texas Tech's improvement on defense. He didn't start last year, but made an impact with 13 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss in the rotation. It's easy to see why the 6-foot-5, 290-pounder was a super recruit who signed with North Carolina, but later decided he wanted out. Butch Davis' loss was Tommy Tuberville's gain. After a solid freshman year, it's time for Simmons to move into a starring role. He'll start at nose tackle for Art Kaufman's new 4-3 defense, but the Pennsylvania native should inspire plenty of excitement around Lubbock.
Le'Raven Clark, OG: The former high school All-American redshirted last season but will be the team's starting guard to start the season, despite no playing experience. Texas Tech's offensive line is pretty underrated and has big talents in tackle LaAdrian Waddle and center Deveric Gallington, both seniors. They ought to help the young guys along, but the biggest task for everybody on the line is staying healthy.