Following the awful conclusion of Texas Tech's 2011 football season Tommy Tuberville said that many newcomers would get the chance to play in 2012. He reiterated that statement after National Signing Date. And Tuberville wasn't just a-woofin'.
If you include redshirt freshmen, there appear to be 14 newcomers who could see significant snaps in the fall. At a minimum. And that doesn't include the summer arrivals, several of whom Tuberville has said will likely play immediately.
Below are the rookies Red Raider fans will most likely see on the field in the coming campaign.
Lee Adams: The 270-pound defensive tackle from Corona, California has not been a powerhouse, but he looks to be the same caliber as the other tackles. What that means is that he's undersized, but is capable of playing well in short bursts. Look for him to be in the rotation at some level.
Javon Bell: It's a shame Bell's spring was interrupted by injury because in the early going he was arguably Tech's best receiver. There's nothing especially spectacular one can point to in Bell's game; he simply produces. Once the Red Raider receiving corps returns to full health, Bell may no longer be a threat to start. But he should see the field.
Michael Brewer: Some observers suspected a quarterback controversy could be in the offing because of Seth Doege's modest 2011 season and the presence of highly decorated signal caller Michael Brewer. Well that has not happened and it will not happen. Doege's firmly in the catbird's seat. But Brewer should be a very competent backup, and Tuberville tells us that he will be part of the gameplan—mainly via running plays—in every contest. We shall see.
Ryan Bustin: The third of Tech's Killer Bs is placekicker Bustin. The transfer from Kilgore College maintained a very low profile last season and in the off-season, but players whispered to the coaches that he was something special. The coaches are seeing that for themselves this spring, as Bustin has been deadly accurate inside of 45 yards. It's a relief to know Tech's field goal kicking situation will be in good hands, or feet as the case may be.
Le'Raven Clark: Tuberville and the offensive staff obviously see a great deal in Clark or they wouldn't have him as first team right tackle as a redshirt freshman. And to be fair, Clark has looked reasonably solid with run blocking. But he has struggled tremendously against Dartwan Bush, Tech's best pass rusher. At this point he is not yet using his hands to check rushers, and they are getting past him too frequently. I project that Clark will not start any actual games, but that he will gain valuable experience in a backup role.
Rashad Fortenberry: One of the players who potentially could slide to right tackle if Clark doesn't pan out is current backup left tackle Rashad Fortenberry. This junior college transfer from Mississippi doesn't have the bulk of Clark, and despite pre-spring hype, is no threat to unseat starting left tackle LaAdrian Waddle, but he's a more mature and polished player than Clark. Whether at left tackle or right, Fortenberry looks to be a contributor.
J.J. Gaines: One of the more pleasant surprises of the spring has been backup safety J.J. Gaines. This redshirt freshman was originally recruited to be a cornerback, and at five-foot-11 and 185 pounds, he is built like one. But Gaines appears to be an intelligent player with the football smarts to succeed at safety. He's usually in position and doesn't blow coverages. That's pretty impressive for a freshman safety.