Head coach Matt Wells met with the media yesterday and I’ve done a non-transcript of what Wells said regarding yesterday’s National Signing Day. As you may recall, a non-transcript is me listening to the video and typing as quickly as possible.
Head coach Matt Wells:
Excited about players added since December, signing 1 today, and the 6 transfers. Guys that fit our needs from depth standpoint and when recruiting, that’s what you have to look at. preferred walk-on’s will add competitive depth in the room, and the 7 guys added to the other 10, we’ve got more to add and will add more in the spring, and then turn our focus to the 2022 class, which has already started.
- Imari Jones: Freshman cornerback, from Coronado, really good program, caught our eye at a camp. Ran very well, is long, tall, and has changed. Very productive. First DB Coach Jones has signed. Really excited because he has length, athleticism, and is fast.
- Malik Dunlap: NC State, he’ll have 3 to play, he looks like a safety, with corner skills. Has game experience.
- Matt Keeler: Coffeyville CC. We’ve known and recruited that family, Matt is an offensive lineman, big young, and fairly athletic, big upside, can play either side.
- T.J. Storment: Grad transfer, one year, from TCU. When you have a chance to recruit him, you remember him because of his film, went back and watched other games, he had a really good year, very productive. Very good on the edge and think he has a bright future. Scholz and Farmer are important for the last chapter of his development.
- Jesiah Pierre: linebacker came from Florida, will still be a freshman, because of Covid, but going into his 3rd year of college. Big inside linebacker.
- Marquis Waters: Free safety with one year, grad transfer, from Duke, was a captain and a multi-year starter. Going to be a great leader for us.
- Rayshad Williams: Cornerback, played at UCLA, more 2 years ago, has 3 years to play. Played more as a redshirt freshman in training camp.
Those are our 7 signees, will continue to recruit and sign guys, still have some scholarships this spring.
Second full week of offseason with Coach Scholz, we’re all hoping for an uninterrupted spring, our team is still going through all of the protocols. All of the mid-terms have started with Coach Scholz, excited about strength training, installing a new offense, so this is very important.
Start practice in mid-March and the spring game in Mid-April.
- Malik Dunlap underwent shoulder surgery yesterday, from last season. medical staff wanted to do the surgery as well as Malik, he will be out this spring.
- Gilbert Ibeneme and Xavier White out with shoulder surgery.
- Riko Jeffers had his knee surgery successful, will be out this spring. They will be full go in the summer.
- Casey Verhulst with back surgery, will be limited this spring.
- Dawson Deaton, cleaned up a shoulder and know what he can do, veteran guy, will limit him this spring.
- Nelson Mbanasor had a bicep injury, J.J. Sparkman had a shoulder, and Donovan Smith, Donovan is already throwing, but he will be on a pitch count that will be limited.
The most non-drama signing day I have ever been around, has changed the recruiting landscape, the transfer portal has, the Zoom calls, these guys are all coming sight unseen, unless they have been here earlier in high school. Props to the coaching staff and recruiting staff. Things we have learned, post-Covid, that we will still use some of this. Will continue to recruit this spring and summer.
Fires me up that we had 10 seniors decide to come back, I think what that does is it shows us how the culture is changing and that the guys are close to breaking through and through getting coached and continued physical development. Biggest gray area, how big is the 2022 class, and won’t have these super-seniors, but there are juniors who are in their 4th or 5th ear of college who could leave for the NFL, the transfer portal if a player leaves and a scholarship is available, the uncertainty for 2022 is going to be a real thing.
We have a few more scholarship spots available, really one at every position on defense, trying to build competitive depth, and catch up on recruiting numbers from a few years ago. Another O-lineman and receiver from a numbers game.
[On Storment] I believe he can play both tackles, is strong enough to play guard. We cross-train our o-linemen, we may experiment with guard. Will need to be cross-trained to go to the NFL.
We had a young team and had holes at certain positions, the transfer portal has been productive and good for Texas Tech, we’ve built part of our brand of getting old, it’s been a mix of high school players, a few transfers, and now it has gone to 4-4 transfers. What we look at bringing transfers at certain classifications, and we are really old at linebacker, Riko, Schooler, and Morganstern, with 4th year juniors, Merriweather, Eldridge, and Brandon Randle, so Pierre is a freshman in classification, but in his 3rd year.
There has to be a mix, some freshman and high school players have been successful. The transfers have to come in and compete, compete immediately.
[On adding a quarterback transfer] I think the quarterback position room, we still have some scholarships available. Cumbie has guys returning, with 2 freshmen, Morton and Smith. Want the room to be competitive. Only 1 guy can go at a time, need to give all of them reps. If we need to add a guy to that room, we will.
On the timing of spring practice, the availability of the vaccine didn’t play into it, hopefully we will all have it this spring. We thought about 2 things, backed it up to mid-March, so we could have as long of an offseason weight room and running program with Coach Scholz, and so Cumbie would have a longer time to teach. Injury wise, some of the guys that were limited, it helps Sparkman, Donovan and Nelson, the guys that were out, it didn’t matter.
Every day is a new day with Covid, I think our medical staff did a great job, the players did a great job, what they gave up, seeing it with basketball, respect the heck out of them. It was tough on them, the stress and the worry, the stress, that was added onto these players with the uncertainty. If it hits us again this spring, we’ll learn if it gets us positive twice and hope we have a normal spring. We only got through 4 practices last year. Never had a spring ball.
There is good talent in the city of Lubbock and surrounding cities in West Texas, when we find out, we will recruit them hard and there are few that we have lost that we wanted. Sometimes the process is slower than others, but we will recruit the best players wherever they are. The last couple of years that we have taken out of West Texas have contributed early.
I think we all hope the quiet period kicks in this spring and can have camps this spring. It has made it very difficult, with the transfer portal, you are evaluating it against more known competition and seeing their guys translate. Some are older. The thing we have to continue to do is determine the character of the young man, we need to have the same thing for our transfers to work. I believe in high school guys and developing them, we are going to build it with high school players, we have to get old and stay old to beat the teams we need to beat in this league.
I think it is really good organization and our recruiting staff and begin on guys from the evaluation process and getting them on Zoom.
A couple of thoughts:
- Did you know that Krista Gerlich’s son, Brayden Gerlich is a 6-5/1990 defensive back and on the football roster? It’s true!
- Wells pretty much confirms what you might be thinking, which is that the staff is looking for another quarterback as there is room for a scholarship quarterback. I’m guessing that the staff is expecting some significant players to be on the market in the spring and summer, perhaps once spring practice starts and positions are settled?
- I mentioned in yesterday’s Morning Stake that one of the issues facing certain programs is that programs can only sign 25 players, which includes high school, JUCO, and transfers, in every class, so if an entire class is utilized on high school players and you have a significant number of transfers, then you can’t replace those numbers. I think Wells has played it safe, not having a huge 2021 class in case there were more transfers than expected and then being able to pull in transfers as needed.