Recruiting

2019 National Signing Day: The Coordinators, More Numbers, and The Worst Decision

It’s been my long-standing tradition not to try to convince any of you of anything. I feel like my job is to present the facts, allow you to digest them, watch as you call each other various curse words, and then become friends again (or maybe [hopefully] just not hate each other).

The Coordinators

Offensive Coordinator David Yost:

  • Real selective and still chasing some spots moving forward. Being late to the dance, they didn’t want to add bodies to just add bodies.
  • Cole Thomas and his athleticism is what they lean on, how he can move, he is a tackle prospect. 310 to 320 probably easy for him.
  • We’re going through the process to see if he can go this fall. We didn’t play Nevada but had their video a lot, it was always who made that one, it was #1. How he fits into our offense at the H-position, he’s ideal. He makes a lot of vertical plays as well.
  • The guys brought in at the receiver position, Trey and Cantrell, be fun to add into the mix here. The tight end will be the newest. Simon is here now, weight is going up and strength is going up, and anxiety of college is going up. The jumps our guys make out of the spring and the summer, he’ll be a different guy by the fall. Maverick at quarterback, it will be fun to work with a new guy.
  • A lot of them had built a bond beforehand, they were on a group text when they were committed and they were in contact when the coaching change happened. They were already tight-knit and that’s how communication works.
  • Really started to get back to normal on Monday, the kids show up and the players are lifting and get some position meetings. Start to teach how things work and how things go, it’s been fun this week as guys come by to talk football. I enjoy this as much as any time, and I can’t wait until March when we start spring ball. It is all part of it, but it’s exciting.
  • He is a giant (re. Trevor Roberson), he’s working hard, still going to be the biggest guy, but he’s being held to a standard, it is a change, there’s good days and bad days, Coach Farmer has done a great job with the transition. Got to watch how well he moves for that big, excited to watch him get stronger and bigger, and getting rid of the stuff that they want to get rid of (talking about fat).
  • It was an evaluation process for Roberson, it was a question of how athletic he was, the perfect tackle would be 6’3″ but have huge wing span because of the small base. I’ve never had a guy this tall at tackle, but it is a good problem to have.

Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson:

  • Challenge to make sure that they fit our system, and fit from an intangible situation, the group that that is here early and today, what impresses is the character. The previous staff did a heck of a job identifying those guys. It boils down to relationships and didn’t hang onto those guys. The evaluation for what currently have and it has all changed and with the transfer portal, things can change between now and next season.
  • It has almost turned into free agency, from the aspect of being able to look at the portal and identify a need, maybe there is a deficiency in a certain area, I think it is a good thing for the players and can be a good thing for the team as well.
  • I think there’s no doubt that the players will reach out and see how things pan out over the course of the spring and summer.
  • It starts up front with Tony Bradford, Jr., I think that Bradford exhibits a lot of the characteristics that an undersized player has, doesn’t try to put guys in a box, he has unbelievable character, has tremendous leadership qualities and is excited about him. Gilbert Ibeneme, any time you can add that quality to your unit, it is still won and lost up front, very excited about both those guys. Cut from the same mold as Tony, both hard workers, very high character. Bryce Robinson reminds of Riko Jeffers, same high school, possess a lot of the same qualities, very athletic, parents were college athletes. Tyrique Matthews fits in that undersized linebacker, but is explosive and has potential to make plays in space, fits the aggressive attacking style. Quintin Williams, what he’s going to look like in 2 or 3 years, he played mike linebacker, you see him covering kicks, very versatile. He can play multiple positions and don’t put him in a box.
  • Dadrion Taylor, been watching him for a long time, he led his high school team to 3 state championships and watched him play basketball and run track, brings that championship mindset. Playing multiple sports the better you are, we’re going to play him at cornerback, has tremendous upside.
  • Alex Hogan has a tremendous competitive edge, loves to compete, brings a mentality at defensive back, ice water in your veins, he wants the challenge of the best receiver. Love the competitiveness.
  • Gives the opportunity to focus now back on campus and evaluate on the strengths of the defensive unit.
  • That’s where we don’t lower our standard, we’re going to do a great job of evaluating, the system is a bit different and people will move around players and how the defense is personneled. Did not want to go out and reach.
  • Leadership and the character. Can just tell by meeting them, there’s something about how they are winners and why they win. Really only 5 weeks because of the dead periods, when the time is limited, only 5 opportunities to make a difference, but as I got to be around those guys, it jumped out that have the right people.
  • Yesterday felt normal, got the kids in the office, be able to meet defensively as a staff and felt like semi-normal. The early and late signing period has made things different. Wife is blown away by how willing people are to help.

Recruiting Numbers

Taken at face value, you have one recruiting service, Rivals, that says that Texas Tech was 8th in recruiting, edging out Kansas and Kansas State. On the Rivals side of things, there were obviously three tiers in terms of recruiting, the first tier was Texas and Oklahoma who are recruiting at an elite level, then there was the large group of other programs that were in the 1,600 to 1,300 range, including TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, and Iowa State. Texas Tech, Kansas and Kansas State followed up in the third tier.

With 24/7, I think the tier comparison works pretty much the same.

Team Commits Rivals Average Rivals Points 24/7 Average 24/7 Points
Texas 24 3.71 2684 91.84 287.02
Oklahoma 24 3.83 2650 91.20 279.28
TCU 28 2.96 1672 86.27 210.62
Baylor 25 2.92 1580 85.90 203.39
Oklahoma State 20 3.00 1488 86.01 202.09
West Virginia 19 3.05 1395 85.78 190.36
Iowa State 21 2.95 1346 85.57 190.59
Texas Tech 17 2.71 1125 84.41 170.14
Kansas 18 2.72 1095 83.79 172.70
Kansas State 21 2.48 1095 83.99 176.01

The great thing about subjective numbers is that we can argue about them all day long and there are pros and cons to each. One could say that the 24/7 Average is right there with those second tier of teams, the quality of players is there, and not that far off. There’s the thought that with more commits, the numbers probably could have been higher, but both Matt Wells and the two coordinators made it clear that they weren’t going to reach for players, that they didn’t want to have a “recruiting day victory” if the player wasn’t up to their standards. You can take or leave that statement however you want, but the staff did have players in Lubbock for visits late in the recruiting process and did not extend offers.

I think by this time next year, Texas Tech is somewhere in the middle of that third tier. At least that’s my hope. I think that whatever happened in 2019 can be recoverable. And I’m not of the opinion that things were disastrous. Things were obviously not good, but I’m an optimist and I think that the staff will recover in 2020.

My half-hearted and unprovable hypothesis is that had Kingsbury been retained that the finish would have been somewhat similar, probably creeping up to the second tier for sure. The problem though is that no player wants to commit to a lame-duck head coach and that’s exactly what Texas Tech had, a coach who was essentially coaching from year-to-year and that’s not sustainable. Kingsbury didn’t win enough to warrant another extension (see below).

The Worst Decision

I’ve pondered this for quite some time, but the worst decision in this whole process was the decision to retain Kliff Kingsbury because he won the Texas game in 2018. It’s been widely acknowledged by Kingsbury himself, that this singular victory is the reason he was coaching in 2019. Couple that decision with the problem of not wanting to extend Kingsbury’s contract and it’s an absolute recipe for disaster. Honestly, I don’t know that Kirby Hocutt had much of a choice here. I’ve tried to put myself in his shoes and I don’t know if I would have done things differently. The contract situation combined with the losses, the promise of a better day by Kingsbury just didn’t happen.

In fact, opposing coaches could clear print off articles or newspapers or send links or whatever and show these recruits that Kingsbury only kept his job because of one game and he admitted it. Thinking back on this, it seems ridiculous to think that this was really even conceivable. I again go back to the thought of what I would have done and my personal thought was that if you were willing to commit to Kingsbury because of that one game then you should have extended him right there on the spot. That would have been a ludicrous decision given the overall record of Kingsbury. One winning record in his tenure at Texas Tech. So if there was not enough confidence to retain Kingsbury long-term, then the easy answer should have been that he should have been fired after beating Texas and Texas Tech should have moved on. It would have been a public relations disaster, but logically, that’s probably what the decision should have been.

It was a difficult decision no matter how you slice things and I’m obviously being critical, but I’m also trying to put myself in Kirby Hocutt’s shoes. It was an impossible decision and one where you want to have faith in Kingsbury, but you want what’s best for the program too. It was in retrospect a lose-lose proposition and the program was pretty much damned no matter what.

Why Not Dana Holgorsen or Neal Brown?

I’ve thought a lot about this and since both Dana Holgorsen, now at Houston, and Neal Brown, at West Virginia, wasn’t considered much for the Texas Tech position. For Holgorsen, it’s a bit easier for me to understand. On paper, Holgorsen is a heck of a coach, but from looking at things from the outside, he didn’t give two shits about recruiting. I think that recruiting already wasn’t necessarily Kingsbury’s favorite activity so hiring a coach who was more overt about it probably wasn’t great. I’d also add that Holgorsen was maybe the girl that you liked that was in a bad relationship and ended up being with you because she just didn’t like the other guy, not because you were some sort of catch. Holgorsen was a coach for hire, willing to go to the highest bidder and simply just didn’t want to be in Morgantown anymore.

The differences between Neal Brown and Matt Wells have been tougher for me to figure and probably plays into the current situation that Texas Tech finds itself in. I think that what ultimately drove Hocutt to hire Wells was that he did the most with the absolute least in terms of built-in advantages. Neal Brown at Troy I think is a heck of a coach and I think he had two things working against him: 1) Brown could recruit the SEC-castoff’s and field a team of truly talented players, but maybe just couldn’t make it in the classroom; and 2) Brown had already been in Lubbock and associated with Tuberville and Hocutt thought that hiring Brown would go over like a lead balloon. For item 2, I think that would have been completely unfair. I always liked Brown and felt like he did a terrific job as the offensive coordinator and recruiting, but the stench of Tuberville was probably too much and that’s a shame (because no one should have that stigma). As far as item 1, Brown should get a ton of credit for identifying those players and building a program, but Troy has a winning percentage of .560 historically, but Troy has generally been pretty good in recent history. The coach before Brown, Larry Blakeney had coached at Troy from 1990 through 2014 and oversaw Troy’s transformation from Division II to Division I FBS and won 60% of his games during his 15 year tenure at Troy.

We’ve more than discussed Utah State’s historical record, 50% all-time with most of that success coming under Gary Andersen and Matt Wells, the two most recent head coaches. This is just my two cents, but I think that Hocutt wanted Wells because he won early with Andersen’s players, stumbled a bit with a losing record, then recovered on his own. The other idea here is that Wells should get credit for some of those players at Utah State, he was the offensive coordinator there for two seasons before he became the head coach. Regardless, Wells was able to pull Utah State out of the rut in pretty quick fashion, he identified that he needed to be better on offense, demoting his brother, Luke Wells, and current receivers coach, Javon Bouknight, as offensive coordinator to hire Yost.

I’ve spent the better part of my morning writing this last section and am not completely sure why other than I guess I wanted to get this out into the universe.

Links!

The Seattle Times’ Jayda Evans – Texas Forever: Blanchet lineman Cole Thomas finds a home at Texas Tech:

Thomas kept Utah State and Washington on his short list. His official visit to Texas Tech last week confirmed his decision. The facilities, education and outlook were all similar to UW — the difference being Wells spotted Thomas first and never wavered.

“A lot of coaches would go back on their word,” said Thomas, who is rated a three-star prospect by 247Sports.com. “They’d say I’m the only guy they’re talking to, then I’d pull up on Twitter and see they offered two more offensive tackles, or they’d hang me out to dry and stop talking to me. Recruiting is nasty at points. It really is, but Utah State was never like that.

“… What solidified that word was going over to Texas Tech and saying, ‘Hey, we want you.’ Coach Farmer had been there for five days when he gave me a call.”

NewsOK’s Jacob Unruh – Carl Albert’s Dadrion Taylor finds home at Texas Tech as defensive back:

Taylor, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound speedster known as “Rabbit,” will play defensive back. Not running back, the position he earned The Oklahoman’s All-State and Big All-City Offensive Player of the Year honors.

“If you ask me, I consider myself an athlete,” Taylor said. “I’m used to getting the ball and doing my thing. Now, I have to get the ball. Once I get the ball, it’s going to be dangerous.”

Sun-Times’ Ben Pope – Simeon’s Alante Brown signs with Texas Tech:

Ultimately, the Red Raiders won him over with their impressive facilities, history of accomplished NFL stars — Patrick Mahomes, Michael Crabtree and Danny Amendola among them — and detailed pitch about his role in the program.

“They were very specific about how they wanted to use me, what they’re going to do to me, how the transition was going to go,” Brown said. “They’re going to use me as many ways as they can: in the slot, as a running back sometimes, kick returner, punt returner. They’ll allow me to make plays and get the ball in my hands, and as I thought about it, I was like, ‘More touches, more touches, more ways to show off my skill set.’”

Tyler Morning Telegraph’s Brandon Ogden – Whitehouse sending 7 to next level, highlighted by Cameron Cantrell to Texas Tech for football, Theron Franklin-Cobb to SFA for track:

“I love everything about the school,” Cantrell said. “I’ve been going up there since I was in the sixth grade.”

Cantrell was joined by his family on Wednesday, including his brothers Dylan and Jordan, who is the new head football coach at Bishop Gorman.

Cantrell had been committed to Texas Tech for a while, but the Red Raiders had a coaching change in November as Kliff Kingsbury was replaced by Matt Wells.

“I was a little bit nervous for a while,” Cantrell said. “I went and talked to the new coaches, and they re-offered me, and I’ve been 100 percent committed.”

Oregonian’s James Crepea – Oregon’s search for new WR coach nearing conclusion, recruiting background in Texas could be a key factor:

Oklahoma State’s Kasey Dunn, Texas Tech’s Jovon Bouknight and Florida International’s Aubrey Hill are among a group that includes several other candidates still vying for the job.

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