Texas Tech Football: What We Think We Know About the Red Raiders After Spring Football

Texas Tech Football: What We Think We Know About the Red Raiders After Spring Football
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Texas Tech’s Steve Linton does a workout during football practice, Tuesday, March 21, 2023, at the Sports Performance Center.

Now that the Texas Tech football program has put the 2023 spring training schedule in the past, it is now time to turn our attention to the hard work that is the summer months as we brave the heat and bide our time until the first end. September week rolls.

Before we venture too far into what transpired during Tech’s 15 practices during March and April, let’s take stock of where this list is headed for what is normally a quiet period on the calendar. Here’s what we think we know about the Red Raiders after spring football.

Newcomers will be asked to fill in some big shoes

It’s nothing new to suggest that any college football program will have to fill huge roster gaps from year to year. That’s just the reality of modern collegiate athletics, where players change schools almost as often as they change socks.

However, the player movement trend, as unpopular as it is with many fans, gives it the edge, and this year the Red Raiders will be leaning heavily on some fresh faces to step in right away and make serious contributions.

For example, Syracuse transfer Steve Linton will be asked to be a major factor in the pass rush department. A six-foot outside linebacker who’s increased to 235 pounds after playing around 220 last season, the Georgia native has two years of eligibility left thanks to a redshirt season and the 2020 COVID-19 toast.

Last season, he was credited with 6.0 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in 11 games, but much more is expected of him this fall, especially with 2022 defensive terror Tyree Wilson now in the NFL. So far, there has been nothing but raves about Linton from people inside the program and the assumption is that his ability to create havoc off the rim will be a key piece of this season’s defense.

Also on defence, look for defensive back CJ Baskerville to be a key addition. With the graduation of 2022 safety Marquis Waters and the transfer of 2022 part-time starter Reggie Pearson to Oklahoma, the San Diego State transfer will have to play some significant moments for Tech in September.

Last fall, the Texan native was credited with 36 tackles in eight games. Look for him to be Waters’ main replacement in the “Star” position, an itinerant role where defensive coordinator Tim DeRyuter likes to deploy a player who can support the run defense while also being a blitzer at times and also being asked to play roof. In other words, this is a great opportunity for Baskerville to make a big mark on Lubbock right away.

On the other side of the ball, speedy wide receiver Drae McCray will need to bring some much-needed energy to the offense. A transfer from Austin Peay, who comes in with more than 1,800 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns in two FCS seasons, the 5-foot, 9-foot dynamo was much coveted at the gate and his presence for the Red Raiders could make the offense much more dynamic than ever. which was in 2022.

Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of new center Rusty Staats. A super-senior arriving from Western Kentucky, where he played for Tech offensive coordinator Zach Kittley in 2021, is highly regarded and expected to help stabilize the middle of the offensive line, a positional group that was sometimes suspect last fall. With 27 games under his belt and back-to-back all-conference honorable mentions over the past two seasons, Staats has the responsibility of anchoring a rebuilt lineup in Lubbock, and his success will be paramount.

So while the Red Raiders are bringing back the vast majority of their starters on both sides of the ball, don’t overlook the role these rookies will have to play. Of course, in the portal age, this will be an annual occurrence.

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