In the coaching turmoil, which surrounded the dismissal of Mike Leach and the hiring of Tommy Tuberville, the Texas Tech football program very nearly lost an extremely valuable commodity. And the name of that commodity was Tre' Porter. The schoolboy standout from Midwest City, Oklahoma decommited from the Red Raiders, and there was a real fear that he would sign with Oklahoma State instead.
Reason and Tommy Tuberville triumphed in the end, however, and Porter followed through on his earlier Tech commitment. And the Cowboys' misfortune shall be the Red Raiders' eternal gain.
There was never any thought of redshirting Porter because it became readily apparent soon after his arrival in Lubbock that his skills and athleticism were unusual and exceptional. Porter had the size and strength to play safety, and the quickness and speed to play corner. Turns out he played a bit of both—as well as linebacker--in 2010, his freshman season.
And he played them well.
Porter led all Big 12 freshmen in tackles with 76 – four of those tackles for loss. Porter also recorded an interception, broke up six passes and defended seven others. Additionally, Porter developed into a bit of a leader. He played at a high level and did not suffer anything less from his defensive teammates.
Now a sophomore starter at cornerback, Porter is poised to make some waves and hopefully a name for himself as one of the conference's better players at the position.
Clearly, Porter has loads of ability, and local expectations are that he will pull down manifold postseason honors before his days as a Red Raider are done. He could even finish up as one of the best cornerbacks in recent Texas Tech history.
Better than Jamar Wall, Khalid Naziruddin and Joselio Hanson? How about the best since Lemuel Stinson?
Many Red Raider fans don't know the name Lemuel Stinson, and not too many knew of him when he signed with Jerry Moore's Red Raiders back in 1984. Stinson, who was viewed as a receiver during his recruitment from Houston Worthing, had more of a reputation as a track star than a football player. He was one of the state's fastest hurdlers and competed successfully in that event while at Tech as well.
Stinson, whose nickname was Lemonhead, looked like a lemon early in his Tech career. His speed and quickness never failed to get him open as a receiver, but the youngster had hands of granite perpetually exuding Crisco. If Tech kept stats for dropped passes, Stinson would surely be the school's record holder.
The death knell of Stinson's career as a receiver came in the waning moments of a tight battle against the Rice Owls in which Stinson dropped not one but two touchdowns that would have won the game for Tech. Very shortly thereafter Stinson was moved to cornerback and the rest, as they say, is history.
Stinson positively blossomed at his new position. He never gained a great deal of collegiate fanfare, but he did quietly develop into a classic shutdown cornerback. Mike Ditka and the Chicago Bears thought enough of Stinson to select him in the sixth round of the NFL draft.
Da' Bears got tremendous value for the pick. Stinson was a frequent starter and a crucial cog in some very good Bears defenses for five straight seasons. During that period he recorded a tremendous 16 interceptions, six in the 1990 season alone. By way of comparison, Joselio Hanson has four picks in six NFL seasons so far.
Tre' Porter has the potential to be Tech's best since Stinson. He's three inches taller than Stinson, and outweighs him by at least 20 pounds. But to reach Stinson's level Porter must develop the same mental toughness that saw Stinson through the misery of his early career as a receiver. If Porter's mental attributes come to equal his physical skills, there's no limit to what he can do.