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.
Jakeem Grant: Of the two diminutive receivers putting in their first appearance in Red Raider colors, Jakeem Grant was the least esteemed. Javares McRoy, a former Florida Gator, was supposed to be the earth shaker. But thus far Grant has stolen the thunder. Whether playing inside or out, Grant has given the offense a jolt with his amazing acceleration. And he's getting into the mix on end arounds as well.
Branden Jackson: It is not absolutely necessary for a defense to have two excellent pass rushers, but it sure doesn't hurt. Dartwan Bush is already designated Tech's pass rusher of record, but redshirt freshman Jackson has shown signs of being able to bring the heat from the other side as well. He could rotate situationally with Jackson Richards and Leon Mackey according to pass and run scenarios.
Thierry Nguema: Few of Tech's most recent recruits arrived with less fanfare than the man they call "Theory," but when all is said and done, Nguema could be big news. At only 160 pounds, Nguema is very slight, but he's also a slick cover corner with a nose for the football. He'll have to leapfrog a couple of veterans to see the field in 2012, but I'm betting he'll do just that.
Chris Payne: I was highly skeptical of a 190-pound linebacker doing any damage in the Big 12 on a 4-3 defense, but am beginning to reevaluate my earlier incredulity. Payne had been injured for most of spring drills, but made an immediate impact once he got on the field.
Some guys just play larger than they really are, and Payne may be one of them. During the Spike Age Tech had a 205-pound linebacker named Robert Johnson who did just fine. Payne reminds me a little of Johnson.
Jeremy Reynolds: Sticking to the theme of dynamite coming in small packages, we here present redshirt freshman cornerback Jeremy Reynolds. The five-foot-nine 175-pounder is currently running second string and looks like he belongs there. Reynolds has improved noticeably over the offseason. Last spring and fall Reynolds got pushed around quite a bit. Now he's beginning to push back.
Will Smith: The hype surrounding Texas Tech's current starting middle linebacker has reached almost deafening levels. Tommy Tuberville can scarcely speak a paragraph about his team without dishing heapin' helpings of praise Will Smith's way.
The JUCO transfer may just live up to it.
It's difficult to remember the last Texas Tech linebacker who had the sort of size and athleticism Smith possess. And if that's not enough, Smith also soaks up football wisdom like a sponge. That fact alone justifies his scholarship.
Tyson Williams: The offensive player Texas Tech's defensive players hate the most is receiver Tyson Williams. The senior transfer from West Texas A&M is more physical than most fullbacks, and when he decks a defender he'll rub it in with a few choice words. But Williams has shown this spring that he catches the ball almost as well as he coshes defenders. That being the case, Williams may not leave the field very often in 2012.