Like any football team, good, mediocre or bad, Texas Tech has several players whose play will be particularly critical to the squad's success. These players, whether by virtue experience, leadership ability, importance of the position played, depth concerns, or sheer talent, are especially crucial. They may or not be the best players on the club, but they would be very conspicuous were they to be absent for any reason. In fact, that may be the best way to conceive of the critical players—they are the performers the team could least afford to lose.
With this series, we will take a reverse order look at the Red Raider football players we consider most invaluable.
6' 3" 320
North Richland Hills, Texas
Deveric Gallington is a bundle of contradictions. He is an extremely experienced offensive lineman, having started 25 straight games, but is extremely callow at the center position, having started only one game there.
Gallington was a highly decorated high school player, but has yet to receive much acclaim at the college level.
Tommy Tuberville and the offensive staff believe Gallington has strong NFL potential, yet most observers view him as a question mark for the Red Raider offense in 2012.
Gallington is a senior playing one of the most critical positions on offense, yet is backed up by a pair of freshmen.
Put all of the above in the cauldron, mix it over high heat, and who knows what it will taste like by the end of the season. But one thing is for certain: Texas Tech desperately needs Deveric Gallington to come through for the team this season.
Gallington has spent virtually his entire Tech career at right guard, but when Justin Keown suffered an injury early in last year's upset win over Oklahoma, Gallington got the call to replace him. He performed well enough to get the start at center the next week against Iowa State. Now the position is his.
Early this past spring Gallington had some problems with his snaps, but improved with every practice. At this point his snaps are reliably accurate. But depth behind Gallington could be an issue.
Redshirt freshman Tony Morales had a somewhat disappointing spring, and is not advanced enough to be in the rotation at this point.
Another option is true freshman Jared Kaster, a natural center who is, however, light in the britches at only 255 pounds. Ideally, Kaster redshirts and comes in at 280 pounds and ready to play next season.
Should a replacement for Gallington be required, it is entirely likely that starting right guard Terry McDaniel will move inside. McDaniel can play anywhere on the line, but moving him to center would disrupt the line's continuity.
Clearly, the best solution for all is that Gallington plays well and plays constantly. The success of Tech's offense may depend on this.