Like any football team, Texas Tech has several players whose performance will be particularly critical to the squad's success. These players, whether by virtue experience, leadership, 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.
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Texas Tech's recently published post-spring depth chart suggests that at almost every position grouping the situation is fluid and dynamic. Starting positions are set in quicksand rather than stone, and even the position to be played is in doubt and may remain so well into the 2013 season.
One exception to that chaotic rule is the receiving corps. Eric Ward, Jace Amaro, Jakeem Grant and Bradley Marquez are the designated starters. That is exactly what one would expect, and that lineup holds every promise of remaining firm throughout the season.
The only individual who could conceivably upset the apple cart would be outside receiver Javon Bell. Unfortunately, the speedy junior college transfer who showed tremendous promise a year ago, is in academic limbo and his return to the "active" roster is in grave doubt.
Thus, Tech's receivers are the classic good news-bad news scenario. On the positive side, the starting quartet could be the best in the Big 12 and one of the top groups in the nation. On the negative side, depth is meager and untested. For that reason, all four starters will be critical to Tech's offensive success.
Perhaps the least well known of this quartet is outside receiver Bradley Marquez. The former standout running back at Odessa High had a promising freshman campaign, but then had his sophomore season cut short by a knee injury in game six against West Virginia. He did not play in the spring scrimmages, but by all accounts, his own included, Marquez is healthy again and will be ready to go full tilt when the season opens against SMU.
When Marquez returns to the lineup, his role will be unique. Although Marquez has good speed and the ability to make plays with the ball in his hands, he will not be counted on to make the explosive play. Jakeem Grant, and to a lesser extent, Eric Ward and Jace Amaro, will fill that bill.
Rather, Marquez will be the quarterback's security blanket. He is a reliable receiver who catches the ball well, runs solid routs and blocks in the tough, Red Raider receiver tradition. Marquez will not be the offense's glamour boy, but he will be a key cog in its success.
Currently backing up Marquez is redshirt freshman Reg Davis. The Tehana product has shown glimpses of developing into a good player, but at this point is not consistent enough to provide reliable depth. The shaky depth situation behind Marquez only augments his importance.