A consequence of signing one of the country's top recruiting classes is that your depth chart could experience a serious upheaval between early August when the blue chippers arrive, and the season-opener in early September. Extremely talented players have the potential to overcome lack of experience and make impacts early in their careers.
Tommy Tuberville and his coaching staff will be faced with this problem very shortly. It is, as they say, a nice problem to have.
In this series we will take a look at the incoming recruits most likely to see the field in 2011, try to project where they will fit in the depth chart, and what they will bring to the table for the Red Raiders in the upcoming season.
The vast majority of true freshmen in college football merely hope to get an opportunity to play during their first season. Incoming Red Raider recruit Tony Morales, however, has a responsibility to play immediately. And that's a ton of pressure for a youngster whose biggest recent concern was what color cummerbund to wear with his tux at the senior prom.
There are three prime reasons so much is expected of Morales so soon. First, he's an extremely talented player. Second, Tech has serious depth concerns at the center position. Third, the offense in which Morales played at Arlington Sam Houston was a veritable facsimile of that Neal Brown runs at Tech.
Morales certainly has the tools to be a very solid backup to Justin Keown in 2011. At six-foot-four and 300 pounds, Morales has a wide, thick frame that is just perfect for playing the center position at the D-1 level. He is already immensely strong in the upper body, and should be able to hold his own with most Big 12 defensive tackles because of that.
Morales is also an exceedingly tough, aggressive blocker who finishes plays with a vengeance. He doesn't merely hit and shock defenders, he crumples them like a sheet of cheap tin foil.
And while Morales is not extraordinarily agile, nor does he possess great lateral movement, he is fast enough to get downfield and make blocks in space. Morales does however, tend to play with a high base and will need to correct that habit rather quickly.
Another thing Morales will need to work on is his shotgun snaps. He played guard in high school, and will have to make a transition to center that is not automatic. Current Tech backup center David Neill has struggled terrifically with his shotgun snaps since moving to center, and the result was dozens of disrupted offensive plays in the spring. At the very least, Brown and Matt Moore must find a backup center who can get the ball to the quarterback accurately and reliably.
Morales arrives at Tech with a sheaf of impressive credentials. All recruiting services rated him one of the premiere center/guard prospects in the nation. He also started for the West team in the U.S. Army All American game. The pressure will be on Morales to be an instant hit. The Red Raiders cannot afford for him to be a bust.