Monday, March 31, 2014
Top-10 player spring update: Texas Tech
By Jake Trotter
This week, we continue breaking down the 10 best players at the moment on every team in the Big 12.
These lists won’t include junior college or freshman signees who haven’t arrived on campus yet. Rather, they will include only the players currently on their teams this spring. Some of these rankings might look different after the spring, but this is how we see them now.
Le'Raven Clark is one of the best linemen in the Big 12.
1. OT Le'Raven Clark: Clark was a second-team All-Big 12 selection as a sophomore, one of only two Big 12 offensive linemen to earn all-conference recognition as an underclassman last season. While the rest of the offensive line struggled, Clark was rock-solid, protecting the blind sides of Baker Mayfield, Davis Webb and Michael Brewer. Over the next two years, Webb will have no better friend than Clark.
2. RB/LB Kenny Williams: Second place on this list was a bit wide open. But Williams is one of the clear leaders for the Red Raiders, and a valuable piece to the offense -- and perhaps the defense, too. After rushing for 1,321 yards the last two seasons, Williams asked for a shot this spring at outside linebacker, where he has been taking first-team snaps. Whether it be offense, defense or both, Williams will be a big part of the team next season.
3. QB Davis Webb: No QB had a better bowl-game performance than Webb, who shredded Arizona State for 403 yards, four touchdowns and a completion percentage of 68.3. Webb had some struggles as a true freshman but showed what he was capable of with the reins of the offense. If Webb builds off his Holiday Bowl performance, he could develop into one of the best QBs in the Big 12 -- if not the country.
4. WR Jakeem Grant: Besides Antwan Goodley and Tyler Lockett, there might notbe a better playmaker at receiver than Grant,who finished sixth in the Big 12 in receiving yards last season despite missing two games. Grant was benched late in the season but responded the way Kliff Kingsbury had hoped he would with two touchdowns in the Holiday Bowl. Even with Eric Ward and Jace Amaro gone, the Red Raiders could boast a formidable receiving corps with Grant, Bradley Marquez and Reginald Davis leading the way.
5. WR Bradley Marquez: Marquez, along with Williams, is one of the team’s leaders and its most reliable returning pass-catcher. In the last three seasons, there have been only two games in which Marquez did not have a reception.
6. OLB Pete Robertson: Robertson is Texas Tech’s top returning defensive player after earning honorable mention All-Big 12 honors anchoring the “bandit” role in Matt Wallerstedt’s 3-4 scheme. Robertson was one of several Red Raiders to have a tremendous showing in the Holiday Bowl, collecting a career-high 11 tackles, including two for loss against the No. 14 Sun Devils. Wallerstedt is counting on more of those performances from Robertson in 2014.
7. WR Reginald Davis: The potential of this former high school quarterback is boundless. Davis spent the last two seasons learning the nuances of playing receiver, but finally began to break out late last season. In the Holiday Bowl, he hauled in a 38-yard pass and returned a kick for a touchdown that eradicated some momentum the Sun Devils had built in the second half. Davis will step into a more prominent role in 2014, and with more chances to make plays downfield, he’s capable of delivering a monster season.
8. ILB Sam Eguavoen: Eguavoen started every game at middle linebacker last season and finished third on the defense with 70 tackles. He will likely end up sliding over to the weak inside linebacker spot with Will Smith gone. Eguavoen might not be a flashy playmaker, but he’s a steady tackler at the second level. Teamed up with Micah Awe, who is expected to take over for Eguavoen in the middle, the Red Raiders should be solid again on the inside.
9. CB Justis Nelson: This freshman had his redshirt removed in the 10th game of the season and played admirably down the stretch opposite veteran Bruce Jones. Nelson closed out the Holiday Bowl with a fourth-quarter interception that sealed the victory for the Red Raiders. With Jones gone, Nelson will take over as Tech’s primary corner.
10. DL Branden Jackson: In his first year in the starting lineup, Jackson held up well and finished the season with nine tackles for loss. With Dartwan Bush and Kerry Hyder gone, Jackson will be Tech’s top returner along the defensive line.