Probable Starters: Javon Bell, 6' 0" 180, senior, Jacksonville, Florida; Eric Ward, 6' 0" 205, senior, Wichita Fall, Texas; Jakeem Grant, 5' 6" 165, sophomore, Mesquite, Texas; Jace Amaro, 6' 5" 255, junior, San Antonio, Texas
Backups: Reginald Davis, 6' 0" 185, freshman, Tehana, Texas; Bradley Marquez, 5' 11" 200, junior, Odessa, Texas; Derreck Edwards, 6' 1" 175, sophomore, Brenham, Texas; Dominique Wheeler, 6' 1" 175, freshman, Crockett, Texas; Jordan Davis, 5' 9" 175, junior, Arlington, Texas; Aaron Fisher, 6' 2" 190, senior, Keller, Texas
Most Intriguing Battle: The presumed battle between Javon Bell and Bradley Marquez for the starting post at flanker looks like a tossup.
Position Power Rating: 91
In 2011, the injury bug hit Texas Tech's corps of running backs mighty hard. The contagion spread to the receivers in 2012 as two of the current presumptive starters—Javon Bell and Jace Amaro—and one potential starter—Bradley Marquez—missed a total of 19 games. Suffice it to say, the Red Raider passing attack was a shadow of what it could have been, had that trio remained healthy.
Bell, Amaro and Marquez are reputedly healthy and seeing action as Tech opens its current spring camp. They should supercharge Tech's aerial game and provide quarterback Michael Brewer with a buffet of tempting targets.
Tech's starting quartet of Bell, Amaro, Jakeem Grant and Eric Ward may be the Big 12's best, and will certainly number among the nation's elite. The raw talent is sterling, and it's not inconceivable that all four of those players could at some point draw an NFL paycheck in one capacity or another.
Bell is the most lethal deep threat on the roster. His exceedingly quick feet make him a nightmare matchup for man coverage schemes. Bell often leaves press corners grasping at vapor and then has the speed to make him pay for the mistake with six points. As he learns to read zone coverage and run better crossing routes, he will be a force.
Tight end Jace Amaro is, of course, the proverbial complete package. But owing largely to injury, his Tech career to this point has been more smoke than fire. After a modest freshman year and a somewhat slow start to his sophomore campaign, Amaro burst onto the scene against West Virginia with doubtless one of the greatest performances ever turned in by a Red Raider tight end. Unfortunately, he suffered a spleen injury against the Mountaineers and didn't return until Tech's bowl game. If Amaro stays healthy, he's a probable All American. He is not only a force in the passing game, but is also a battering ram for the ground attack.
Eric Ward considered an early jump to the NFL before ultimately deciding to return for his senior season. Ward is an utterly sound receiver and is one of the more stand-up characters on the roster. He is one of the best blocking receivers in college football and his hands are off the hinge. Factor in Ward's good leadership ability and you've got a possible Red Raider MVP.
Jakeem Grant's statistics (particularly his 8.7 yards per catch average) were not eye-popping, but his big-play potential clearly was. He returned two kickoffs for long touchdowns, demonstrating tremendous burst, vision and speed. Surely one of Kliff Kingsbury's primary objectives in 2013 will be to get the ball in Grant's hands in such a way as to help him realize his explosive potential. I would be very surprised if that yards-per-catch average does not increase significantly.
As of this writing, depth cannot be counted a strong suit for the receivers. With the exception of Bradley Marquez, a tough, consistent receiver who will probably start some games, there are question marks here.
Primary inside receiver depth will be provided by an injury-bedeviled Aaron Fisher, and former walkon Jordan Davis. Derreck Edwards, who seems to perform better in practice than in games, looks to back up Eric Ward. The wildcards are redshirt freshmen Dominique Wheeler and Reginald Davis. Clearly, neither was ready to play last season, but one year in the system may have worked wonders for their development. Wheeler looks to be an outside receiver, while Davis may have the ability to play both inside and outside.