1. Cameron Batson May Be the Next Star. Brian is going to have more on this soon, but I’m in love with Cameron Batson. He’s a great student and a good person, but in addition to that, he waited his turn behind Jakeem Grant and now, finally now, he’s going to have his opportunity to shine. We highlighted earlier this spring how Batson has a catch rate of 74.4% which led the team last year. It was only on 39 targets, but that’s still a really excellent rate. The funny thing is that we’ve somewhat been distracted by this receiver who’s impressing and then this receiver is doing well. There is a huge hole for Batson to make a significant impact and I don’t do a ton of bold predictions, but Batson seems like he’s poised to have a terrific year.
2. Robert Castaneda Possibly Transferring. We initially got the news that Tyler Castaneda was decommitting from Texas Tech and then, during the open practice, we learn that Robert Casteneda is most likely no longer with the team. Kingsbury said something to the effect of that it’s probably all going to play out. I think it wasn’t any sort of rocket science to put two and two together, but if Robert isn’t happy then Tyler isn’t going to follow suit. Luckily, I think that just with Jack Anderson and Dawson Deaton that the offensive line is, as the kids would say, lit. There won’t be a lot of spots in this class and there’s talk that Xavier Newman very much likes Texas Tech even though he’s got 20+ offers.
3. Akamnonu and Steele Will Play. One way or the other, Madison Akamnonu and Terence Steele are going to play in 2016. I think we may still be in some debate as to where they’ll play, but they’re going to play. Lee Hays used the spring to move them around and see where they fit the best. I think the idea is that Steele will play tackle and Akamnonu will play guard. Those things can change, but it seemed as if that no matter the circumstance, those two were getting quite a bit of time. And this is really the best thing about the spring, which is that coaches should use it as a time to figure out where players fit the best (within reason). Not necessarily flip-flopping sides of the ball, but this is a perfect example of tinkering and seeing where guys can fit.
4. Small Things Make Big Differences at Running Back. We all had these expectations that Corey Dauphine was going to come in and absolutely wreck shop on his way to starting. There’s no doubt that Kingsbury loves his options at running back and I think a case could be made that Dauphine is as explosive as Justin Stockton, especially in that burst up the middle. But Dauphine is still lacking a bit in terms of the nuances of the game. We tend to hear about those nuances with running backs more than anything else, i.e. the blocking and how and where to run routes. Truthfully, those sorts of nuances end up a part of every position, whether it’s footwork or how a defensive player uses his hands, or the blocking for a receiver. Those are the small things that the coaches are focused on during the spring. Dauphine can and will most likely still be a terrific weapon. I think the coaches will most likely use Stockton all over the field, although primarily at running back, and Dauphine and Demarcus Felton will get heavy carries too. Just don’t be disappointed if Felton is ahead of Dauphine. That’s not an indication as to his talent, but more of an indication of time. Time to pick up the small things. Felton has three years on Dauphine on those sorts of things and Quinton White has five.
5. So Much Depth at Receiver. This may be my favorite development of the entire spring. The depth and potential at receiver. I’ve always been one of those guys that loves the next thing sometimes more, sometimes less, than the real thing. I think that’s why I haven’t burned out on blogging yet, I’m always excited about the next guy that can make an impact. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to think about all of the possibilities that the receivers have in front of them. The addition of Derrick Willies and the health of Dylan Cantrell makes the outside receivers that much more dangerous. Add in the emergence of Batson, the arrival of De’Quan Bowman. The maturation of Keke Coutee, Tony Brown, Jonathan Giles and others and we’ve got the making for an incredibly deep and talented group of players. I really hope that the coaches run these guys out with first and second team because I think they all have a shot to make a significant difference (and I haven’t even talked about Reg Davis and Ian Sadler and Quan Shorts and Donta Thompson).