I thought it was pretty interesting this spring noting that Zac Spavital would be training the weakside defensive ends or outside linebacker, depending on what you want to call it. But it got me thinking about the other positions and for me, it seems like there’s some guys that have a definite position, but then there are guys that are multi-position and it appears that this is done intentionally. At least that’s what I think.
And I think this is done on purpose because there’s a need to create situations that maybe has an extra pass-rusher, or maybe an extra run-stopper. This isn’t revolutionary by any means and it was more or less a way to organize the players according to what they do.
Weakside Defensive End / Outside Linebacker
Kolin Hill SR (6-2/245)
Tony Jones SR (6-2/225)
I think it’s just these two for the most part that will play this position and from what I can tell by looking at the roster, there aren’t a lot of options heading down the pike other than maybe Xavier Benson (6-3/200) and Patrick Curley (6-2/215). I think that Benson is supposed to possibly fill that role, but he’s a long ways away and even if you think that strength and conditioning will help, and I think he will, it is unhealthy and not practical to think that he’ll add 30 pounds or so and understand the nuances of rushing the passer after a redshirt year.
Regardless, I think this is a position that will need some help after this year or we see some guys moved around. I think Spencer maybe noticed during the spring game that Riko Jeffers played that rush position and maybe you see a guy like Jamile Johnson or Christian Taylor make a dent there next year.
Strongside Defensive End
Eli Howard SO (6-4/270)
Lonzell Gilmore JR (6-3/280)
Noah Jones SO (6-3/260)
I think that without question, these guys are purely strongside defensive ends, but the thing that stood out to me is that Gilmore weighs 280. Gilmore was injured during most of the spring, but he was always on the sideline and he looks like a specimen. He’s not caring any weight in his midsection and he’s just stacked. Howard didn’t play much either and neither did Jones, who spent last year getting his grades in order. So for the better part of the spring, Texas Tech didn’t likely have their starting strongside defensive end playing.
Broderick Washington JR (6-3/305)
This is not to say that Washington is the only player that will play defensive tackle, but I think the coaches very much like Washington at tackle and the other hybrid are all options to play here. I’m totally good with that and I think this is his best position. The hybrid players will make appearances at tackle and at strongside defensive end.
Nick McCann SO (6-2/310)
Joe Wallace SO (6-1/315)
Jaylon Hutchings FR (6-0/295)
I’m projecting a bit with Hutchings here, but based on the spring game, both McCann and Wallace both played a bunch of snaps at the noseguard position and Hutchings fits that profile. Gibbs seems to like shorter and athletic players (all things considered) at noseguard and Hutchings fits that profile.
Nelson Mbanasor FR (6-3/280)
Houston Miller SO (6-4/265)
Quentin Yontz SR (6-2/270)
Preston Gordon SR (6-1/280)
This is where I saw the most movement between Miller and Yontz and to be honest, I think this hybrid is between defensive tackle and strongside defensive end. Because of the absence of Howard, Gilmore and Jones, there were really no strongside defensive ends this spring. So Yontz filled that roll and Miller played a lot of defensive tackle during the spring game, but I think that his best position is at that strongside defensive end. Mbanasor is another guy that fits that role as far as I’m concerned. He’s most likely defensive tackle, but he can probably play multiple spots. And graduate transfer Preston Gordon is another guy that I think could see time at defensive end or defensive tackle. He could play both tackle and end.
And maybe the best way to think about this is the same way we think about that safety / linebacker position. In the game notes, Justus Parker is actually listed as a linebacker with Dakota Allen and Jordyn Brooks being the other two linebacker starters. Parker is pretty unique and I don’t know who fills his spot in a couple of years, but that’s a ways away. Either way, this defensive line hybrid can be moved around to give the defense what they need . . . hypothetically. And I think that if the defense is in a dire need to stop the run, like on the goal line, then substitute one of those weakside defensive ends for one of the strongside defensive ends and you’ve got a unit that will be tough to run on, but would be very susceptible to a tight end play-action sort of play in the endzone.