After an offseason that has seen plenty of defections from the Texas Tech offense, Joey McGuire and offensive coordinator Zack Kittley made an impact addition on Sunday when West Texas native and former Arizona State and Oklahoma tight end Jalin Conyers announced his commitment to the Red Raiders on social media giving the 2024 offense a much-needed playmaker.
A graduate transfer who has one year of eligibility remaining, Conyers is from tiny Gruver, Texas where he was a four-star recruit and a top-100 national prospect when he committed to Oklahoma in the class of 2020. However, after just one season in Norman (a season that saw him play only sparingly and accumulate no stats), he would transfer to Arizona State for the 2021 season.
There, he amassed 74 catches for 846 yards and six TDs in three seasons. That included 30 catches for 362 yards this fall for the Sun Devils.
This addition could prove huge for a Red Raider tight end room that will be losing Henry Teeter to graduation after Saturday’s Independence Bowl and which has seen Jayden York enter the transfer portal since the end of the regular season. Also, the future of super-senior to be, Baylor Cupp, is uncertain potentially leaving Mason Tharp as Tech’s only option to man the position heading into next season (outside of future 2024 signee Trey Jackson who, at 210 pounds, is not ready to be an immediate contributor).
Conyers’ arrival will help to solidify the tight end position while making the offense more dangerous given his downfield ability. Make no mistake, he’s being brought to Lubbock to catch passes, not to be a battering ram. The question is, whether or not next year will finally be the one in which Kittley leans on his tight ends in the passing game.
Due partially to the QB injuries that have defined the last two seasons and partially to the struggles of Tech’s offensive line, Kittley has been forced to use Tharp, Cupp, and Teeter primarily as blockers over the last two seasons.
In fact, Tharp’s 15 catches for 156 yards and three touchdowns this season are the most a Texas Tech tight end has amassed in each of those statistical categories during Kittley’s two seasons in charge of the offense. In 2022, Cupp paced Tech’s TEs with 12 catches for 132 yards and two TDs.
Conyers will be expected to make a greater impact than that. In each of his last two seasons, he’s caught at least 30 passes and in 2022, he found the endzone five times. That’s as many as Tharp and Cupp totaled as a tandem in 2023 (though Conyers did not score a TD at all this fall).
Conyers does fit the profile of the typical Red Raider tight end from the physical perspective, though. At 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds, he is actually a bit shorter than the 6-foot-6, 260-pound Cupp and the 6-foot-9, 270-pound Tharp.
Still, he is more than big enough to be a matchup nightmare for defensive backs. What’s more, he runs well enough to stress opposing linebackers who may be tasked with covering him on pass routes.
This is a significant addition for the Red Raiders. In fact, it could be argued that this is the first portal addition this cycle that will be expected to be a featured component of the offense.
Back in 2020, the Matt Wells coaching staff worked hard to try to lure Conyers to Lubbock out of high school but (not surprisingly) those attempts bore no fruit. Thankfully, McGuire could out-recruit Wells in his sleep and he’s brought the Texas Panhandle native back home to finish his college career. Hopefully, Conyers goes out in a big way.