As expected, the breadth of Texas Tech's receiving talent militated against a single wideout having a monster Crabtreean season in 2012. And while it may or may not have been expected, the receiving corps did prove to be a real team strength, though.
The Red Raider wideouts proved exceptionally well rounded. Job one of any receiver, of course, is to catch the football, and Tech's did just that with aplomb. At various points in the recent past dropped passes proved to be a bugaboo for the Red Raiders. Not so in 2012. Dropped passes were minimal and glue-fingered grabs the standard.
Almost equal in importance to actually catching the football is running good routes. Doing so results in wideouts getting open and being where the quarterback expects them to be. In 2012 opposing defenses were rarely able to suppress Tech's receivers for long. Invariably, after at most a few series of quiescence, the Red Raider wideouts would again emerge and begin separating from defensive backs.
Blocking is the third component of receivership, and as expected, Tech's receivers did a great job in this area. Few if any receiving corps could field a group as physical as Tyson Williams, Alex Torres, Eric Ward, Jace Amaro and Darrin Moore. The Red Raiders were a respectable number 47 nationally in rushing plays of over 10 yards, and the receivers' strong blocking was a key reason why. Were Kenny Williams more of a breakaway back, that ranking would have been substantially higher.
From an individual standpoint, Darrin Moore led Tech in receptions with 92 and touchdowns with 13. For a receiver so obviously lacking in foot speed, Moore was highly effective and maximized his potential. The transfer from SMU was a fine pickup and had a very good if somewhat short Tech career.
Fortunately, Eric Ward will return in 2013. With 82 receptions, 12 touchdowns and a 13 yards-per-reception average, Ward's numbers were very similar to Moore's. He could be Tech's go-to receiver next season.
If Ward is not the primary receiver, Jace Amaro very well could be. He had a breakout game against West Virginia where he looked like the Tony Gonzales/Kellen Winslow superstar many folks have been prophesying. Unfortunately, he suffered a lacerated spleen in the second half of that game and did not return to play until Tech's bowl game. At any rate, Amaro at his best proved a mashing blocker and a galloping force as a receiver. In his foreshortened season, Amaro averaged a team best 16.4 yards per catch. Quite a figure for six-foot-five 255-pound pass catcher.
Tyson Williams, while an exceptional blocker, was perhaps less than expected as a receiver. He caught only 35 passes and did have a few crucial drops. Prior to the season there was talk that Williams might have an NFL future. He did not show enough in the pass catching department to indicate that is still the case.
Freshman Jakeem Grant had a solid season with 33 receptions and three touchdowns. Given Grant's speed, quickness and acceleration, it is surprising he averaged only 8.7 yards per catch. Finding ways to get Grant the ball in the open field will be a priority for Tech's new offensive coaching staff.
Alex Torres and Austin Zouzalik, injured off and on throughout their collegiate careers, turned in typical a Torres/Zouzalik season. When called upon they contributed. Torres, in particular, had a couple of critical catches in the victory over TCU.
Javon Bell, like Jace Amaro, was developing into a devastating weapon before injury struck. He was eliminated from active duty prior to the West Virginia game. Still, through four games he had 17 catches and averaged 15.8 yards per grab. A healthy, full-time Bell, will be poison to man coverage next season, and should be Tech's primary deep threat, filling the role Darrin Moore played in 2012.
The only player to disappoint was Marcus Kennard. Despite injuries in the receiving corps, Kennard was never able to take advantage and emerge as an every-down player. The talent was there; perhaps the effort was not.