Today we'll start a new series highlighting players with low profiles conference-wide with a good chance to change that this fall. Up first, the Red Raiders.
Texas Tech's depth at running back has gotten some mention on the blog, and Jeffers and Stephens are the reasons why. They'll be star Baron Batch's backups this season, but could be budding stars themselves. Last season, they combined to rush for 571 yards on 84 carries (6.8 yards per carry). With Texas Tech planning on running the ball more than they have for a decade, Jeffers and Stephens should be the beneficiaries.
Justin Keown, C
It might be odd to put a senior on this list, but Keown received his first big chunks of meaningful playing time last season. Then, this spring, he beat out Chris Olson, who finished the season as the starting left tackle, to win the starting center job. Keown filled in well for Stephen Hamby when the starter was injured periodically in 2009, and has a good chance to become a staple at the position for the entire season with a solid fall camp.
Sam Fehoko, LB
Fehoko, a former defensive end, beat out freshman Brandon Mahoney to win a starting spot next to the established Brian Duncan and Bront Bird heading into his junior season. Fehoko could still have some tough competition from redshirt freshman Aundrey Barr -- Duncan's backup on the edge of the 3-4 -- if Barr moves to a spot inside, but Fehoko's experience should give him the edge. Fehoko made 19 tackles last season and that number will definitely grow in 2010 if he enters the season with a firm grasp on the starting position.