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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Some players seem to hang around forever; others come and go in a flash. Texas Tech defensive end Dartwan Bush belongs in the latter category. It's difficult to believe he will be playing his final campaign in the scarlet and black this upcoming season. And once he's gone, Bush will be missed more badly than most expect.
Bush is a bit of an underappreciated player. At least by the home folks. But others took note of his very good junior season. The Waco Herald Tribune and the Dallas Morning News awarded him 2nd team All Big 12 honors, while the fine folks at the San Antonio Express-News deemed him a 1st team worthy.
Bush tallied 41 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks last year. Those numbers were comparable to Kerry Hyder's, and Hyder was the best interior defensive lineman in the Big 12 last season, regardless of what other pundits thought and voted.
Now Bush is not as good as Hyder, but he is a very good player in his own right, and his importance to the Red Raiders, already high, escalated further still with the transfer of starting defensive tackle Delvon Simmons. On the current depth chart, which looks suspiciously provisional, Bush is listed behind Hyder at defensive end. Even had Simmons stuck it out, the underrated senior from Clute would eventually have worked his way into the starting lineup ahead of the overrated junior from Pennsylvania. Bush is one of Tech's three best defensive linemen; Simmons, arguably, was not.
Be that as it may, Bush is the team's best outside rusher on the defensive line. He's probably not quite at the level of a Brandon Williams or a Brandon Sharpe, but he definitely has the potential to have a big senior season just as those two luminaries did.
Bush is a very different player from Williams and Sharpe, though. He plays much more like Keyunta Dawson, currently a defensive end with the Tennessee Titans. Much like Dawson, Bush is a very hard worker with a strong team ethic. He's a good presence in the locker room. And in terms of football style, Bush plays with the same low center of gravity, has the same strong rip move, and can shoot inside the offensive tackle, just as Dawson did.
And come to think of it, Dawson was a bit underappreciated in his time at Tech, too.