1. CB Octavious Morgan (6-0/205): It’s no surprise that the first two players on this list are the two cornerbacks that were signed, Morgan being the higher ranked of the two, hence the higher seeding. We’ve talked about the lack of ability when it comes to covering receivers and Morgan and Lane are going to help tremendously. Yes, there needs to be a pass rush to go along with the defensive backs, but I can only write about so much (we’ll tackle the pass rush idea in a bit). Morgan was offered by a ton of programs, Missouri, Arizona State, Baylor, West Virginia, Louisville, Kansas State, etc. Morgan represents the big-bodied cornerback that usually gives Texas Tech receivers fits. I’m incredibly excited to see what Morgan does to the receivers on the team (this goes for Lane as well). We haven’t seen these JUCO guys work out in their first year, but Morgan and Lane really need to be impact players starting now.
2. CB Jaylon Lane (6-1/177): Much like Morgan, I hope that Lane can make that immediate impact too. Lane is faster than Morgan, or quicker, but Morgan has more size. Lane, I hope, has something to prove to the rest of the Big 12 and I consider this to be a huge recruiting coup for Texas Tech to have signed the former 4-star cornerback. Lane has good size for a cornerback and plays well in space as well as not afraid of making some hits. The other interesting thing is that he will play some safety too and Gibbs always talks about cross-training his players and I think that could be an interesting combination at some point. I want to see Lane at cornerback because I think that’s the biggest area of need, but if he can play multiple positions, that’s great for him.
3. OG Jack Anderson (6-5/300): Anderson doesn’t have any senior film that he’s posted, so I thought it would be good to post what Anderson at some of the practices during the Under Armour All-American game. Start around 2:20. Funny, compared to #70, who is Alex Leatherwood and the best lineman in the country and a composite 5-star player, Anderson almost looks small. He’s not, he’s plenty big, but Leatherwood is all of 6’6″ and Anderson is probably 6’3″ to 6’4″ and that’s perfect for Anderson playing guard. Anderson goes up against Greg Rogers, a 4-star defensive tackle committed to UCLA and goes 6-3/305. Anderson lets Rogers get over the top of him and beats him on the very first play, but Anderson holds his own on the second play. He gets pushed back a bit, but I’m guessing that Anderson’s strength is not pass protection and that will be something he has to work on pretty much right out of the gate. The next opponent is Marvin Wilson, 6-4/330, and is undecided at this point, but he is a 5-star prospect with offers from everywhere and anywhere. Wilson obviously has some strength to him, but Wilson can’t get around Anderson and doesn’t have the quickness that Anderson has. Akial Byers is an Alabama commit going 6-4/275 and Anderson pretty much whips him both times. Not really even so much as a competition. Nothing will be given to Anderson, but he’s got a helluva opportunity waiting for him. I don’t know that he’ll start, but he should play and like I previously wrote, I can’t think of a guard on the team that’s good enough to tell him that Anderson’s got to sit down. In other words, it’s there for the taking.
4. LB Tony Jones (6-2/225): One of my biggest questions about Jones is what Gibbs is going to do with Jones. Jones played mostly outside linebacker at Butler C.C. and I think that plays into his strengths, the question will be if he’s going to truly be a linebacker or asked to be a defensive end, which I’ll live with, but I’m just not a huge fan of running out 225 pound defensive ends. Jones plays well in space, pursues very well and plays well in coverage. He makes plays and that’s a real positive, something that we hardly saw at all last year. In other words, Jones is obviously very good at what he does and rather than turn him into something that he’s not, a defensive end, let him be this roving linebacker that makes lots of plays. There’s a lot to like and I am hoping that we see a rotation of Jordyn Brooks, Jones, Dakota Allen, Johnathan Picone and Brayden Stringer all getting solid reps at linebacker in the spring.
5. QB McLane Carter (6-3/220): There may not be a more interesting competition than the quarterback competition and Carter expects to compete pretty much right away for the starting job. The things I love about his video is that he’s mobile and that could be incredibly beneficial for this offensive line. I’d also add that Carter said that he needed to work on his progressions and I’d agree with that assessment. Watch the video and you’ll see that he sits on the first one routinely. That’s not necessarily a problem, but it will be in the Big 12 where he’ll face defenses that can sit on that. Still, I expect Kingsbury to work wonders because that’s what he does. Carter should get plenty of reps and my money is on Nik Shimonek to get the call, but Carter will need to prepare like he’s the starter, especially given the offensive line issues.
Who’s your five? Here’s the list (I think): Octavious Morgan, Jaylon Lane, Jacob Hines, Tony Jones, McLane Carter, Vaugnte Dorsey, Xavier Martin, Jack Anderson, Dawson Deaton, Bonson Boyd, and Nelson Mbanasor.