There are several mysteries surrounding the 2011 Red Raiders, and one of the more perplexing of them is who, if anybody, will be Tech's go-to receiver. Indeed, one can make the case that the Red Raiders haven't had a true money receiver since Michael Crabtree.
Detron Lewis was supposed to be the next "it" wideout, and although he had a good career, Lewis never really put the fear of God into the opposition the way Crabtree did.
Alex Torres emerged from total obscurity to have an excellent freshman campaign, and looked to be the next big thing as a sophomore, but chronic injuries prevented that from happening.
And Lyle Leong had an exceptional senior season in 2010, snaring 19 touchdowns, which put him among the nation's elite. But Leong also had a relatively modest 74 receptions for 926 yards. Whether those numbers are go-to caliber is debatable.
The Red Raiders will enter the 2011 season without a receiver who has generated much preseason press. Torres has fallen off the radar because of an injury-plagued 2010 season, and no other receiver on the roster has been terribly productive frankly, including Jacoby Franks!
But is there a sleeper on the roster who could push the 1,000-yard receiving mark and become Seth Doege's guy?
Darrin Moore nets 1,000 receiving yards: over or under?
If you attended spring practice more than three or four times, you will have seen a pattern emerge: Seth Doege or Jacob Karam or Scotty Young drops back to pass; Doege, Karam or Young heaves the ball deep down the sideline; Darrin Moore makes some hapless defensive back look silly by out-leaping or out-muscling him for the ball.
That little vignette played itself out so frequently it was almost comical. No matter which defensive back was matched up against the six-foot-four transfer from Blinn College, Moore got the better of him. Now Jarvis Phillips and Derrick Mays, possible starters at cornerback, were sidelined most of the spring, but Moore's performance was still very impressive.
Moore's height and physical strength presented problems for Tech's DBs, and there's every reason to believe he will worst cornerbacks and safeties from other clubs as well. But Moore's got more than just size and strength. He also exhibited tremendous agility, the ability to adjust to the ball, and very good hands. I don't recall Moore dropping more than three passes all spring.
Now if Moore is to surmount the 1,000-yard plateau, he will have to make a quantum leap over his numbers from a year ago. After arriving late in fall camp, Moore finished the 2010 season with only 15 receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown.
But in stark contrast to his situation last season, Moore is currently penciled in as a starter, and I think he will be inked in before the season-opener. Moore, therefore, will get his opportunities. And if spring camp is any indication, many of those opportunities will be way downfield.
But nabbing 1,000 receiving yards will be a tough trick in Tech's current offense. With a wealth of running back talent in the backfield, and a first-year starter at quarterback, Neal Brown and Tommy Tuberville may be tempted to rely even more on the running game than they did last season. Indeed, I think that will be the case.
The prediction here is that Darrin Moore will be Tech's leading receiver in 2011, but that that won't be good enough to net him 1,000 receiving yards.