I thought this would be a fun offseason project. I was going down a few internet wormholes and ran across this 3 year old post from NFL’s Bucky Brooks where he ranked the positions in order of “importance/value”. We could probably quibble with a couple of these, but for the most part, I thought it was a pretty good list. What I thought we would do is go through the list and you could state your comfort level with each position (we’ll do 5 or 6 at a time) and then get an overall sense as to where you think each position group sits heading into preseason camp.
I’ll do a rating system, you rank how comfortable you are with each position on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being not comfortable at all and 5 being very comfortable. I’ll compile the results when we get done with each position.
25. Return Specialist
Texas Tech will be completely replacing their returners for the most part. Cam Batson returned punts and Keke Coutee and Batson returned kickoffs. Texas Tech ranked 119th in punt return success rate and a respectable 43rd in kick return success rate (Football Study Hall). I thought that they’ve essentially been giving up on returning punts. If I had to guess who might get some burn at that spot? Probably DeQuan Bowman and Jojo Robinson so long as he’s keeping his grades up and actually playing. Douglas Coleman returned a few, but I’m not sold on that. Maybe freshman running back Tah’Zhawn Henry. I suppose that it’s not the worst thing ever that this is a somewhat undecided position among us (I’m sure the coaches have an idea).
Primary Options: De’Quan Bowman, Jojo Robinson, Douglas Coleman
I think that this is pretty much Dominic Panzzolo as he had all 60 punts last year, averaging 41 per punt and Texas Tech ranked 39th (which probably surprises some of you) last year.
Primary Options: Dominic Panzzolo and Reed Bowman.
It’s got to be Clayton Hatfield. Check that, a healthy Clayton Hatfield. Get Hatfield to his 2016 form and I think you’ve got a very solid position group here. Without it, then I’ll see you in prayer group.
Primary Options: Clayton Hatfield, Michael Barden, Matthew Cluck, John DLaGarza.
22. X Receiver
The NFL article says that this is the third receiver and there really isn’t a third receiver per se. In the NFL, that usually falls to a slot receiver, but slot receivers in Texas Tech system can, and usually are, some of the most important players. So, I’m picking the position that needs to pick things up as it seems like the X receiver has been darn near non-existent for a couple of years. As of right now, it’s Antoine Wesley and Quan Shorts battling it out for that X receiver position and I really like both of these guys and I’m pretty comfortable with these guys breaking out of whatever slump this group is in.
Primary Options: Antoine Wesley and Quan Shorts
21. Nose Tackle
Big Mych Thomas manned this spot last year and he was really good. I think that Texas Tech will be pretty comfortable with who replaces Thomas as I’ve got Nick McCann and Joe Wallace at nose tackle with Jaylon Hutchings, the true freshman. If McCann and Wallace can get their heads right with grades and doing what they need to do, then I think from a physicality and talent standpoint, this position won’t drop off very much, if at all.
Primary Options: Nick McCann, Joe Wallace, Jaylon Hutchings
20. Left Guard
As of the break of camp, left guard is going to be Dawson Deaton starting with Gio Pancotti backing him up and the starter from last year, Madison Akamnonu, isn’t even in the two-deep here. So, I think that Brandon Jones feels at the very least comfortable enough to move one of these two redshirt freshmen here. Given that this, at least according to the article linked above, is the least important spot:
The position requires a blocker to possess the strength and power to move defenders off the ball on running plays, but coaches can mask a player’s deficiencies at the point of attack by instructing the center to double-team or chip before climbing to the second level.
Primary Options: Dawson Deaton, Gio Pancotti and Madison Akamnonu