Players Lost: Tramain Swindall, Adam James, Jacoby Franks
By the Numbers: After the first two weeks of the 2011 season, Darrin Moore was the nation's leading receiver with 21 catches for 339 yards and four touchdowns. Who knows what Moore might have done had he not gone down with an injury on the first play from scrimmage against Nevada.
The Spring Mix: Some positions on the Texas Tech football team are an embarrassment of riches. Others are virtually bankrupt and insolvent. The receivers belong to the former category.
Tech enters spring workouts without Alex Torres--perhaps the program's steadiest wideout over the last three years—and with ex-receivers Cornelius Douglas and Shawn Corker still on defense (as far as we know). Even still, Tech's offensive brain trust saw fit to transfer promising sophomore Bradley Marquez from receiver to running back. The move of Marquez tells us something about lack of depth in the backfield, but it also testifies to the abundance of talent in the receiving corps.
With Torres still nursing a knee injury, the undoubted bell-cow of the unit is junior Eric Ward who exited the waiting bench in his sophomore season and emerged as Tech's leading receiver. Ward caught 84 passes a year ago and accounted for 11 touchdowns. He also demonstrated superior downfield blocking ability.
Blocking is a skill current starting H receiver Tyson Williams knows something about. Just how much a factor the former West Texas A&M Buffalo will be in the receiving game remains to be seen, but you best believe his blocking will spring many an explosive play for the Red Raiders in 2012.
Checking in at five-foot-11 and 220 pounds, Williams is built like another Tyson and he hits every bit as hard, albeit with his shoulders rather than his mitts. Big 12 outside linebackers will not enjoy facing Williams.
In sharp contrast to the bludgeoning Williams, Neal Brown can also deploy waterbugs Jakeem Grant and Javares McRoy. The latter is a University of Florida transfer who was regarded as one of the nation's top prep receivers a few years ago.
Another intriguing face in the receiving corps is big, physical ball-snatcher Darrin Moore. He was off to a tremendous start in 2011 before injury derailed his season. Moore is not a speed merchant, but he has excellent hands, tremendous body control, and a knack for perfectly judging deep balls. When healthy, Moore is a force with which to reckon. JUCO blue chipper Javon Bell was brought in to make sure Moore doesn't slack off.
Y receiver boasts an intriguing blend of size, youth and experience. Current starter Jace Amaro, a true sophomore, is the prototypical tight end. He has the speed to be a seam-buster down the middle of the field and the size to hammer linebackers in the run game. Big things are expected of him in 2012.
Backing up Amaro are veterans Austin Zouzalik and Aaron Fisher. When healthy, Zouzalik is a very effective, starting-quality receiver. Unfortunately, he's been banged up for much of his Texas Tech career.