Koch's Keys: Five Seniors to Watch

Finally the five seniors to watch is here as a part of Koch's Keys and it is not a surprise who comes in at No. 1.

So in Koch's keys we have looked at the five players to watch in each class of Red Raider football.


We have examined the top five freshmen, sophomores and juniors for Kliff Kingsbury in the upcoming 2013 season.


Now it's time for the seniors, the group of Red Raiders that we should look towards for leadership and the most production in the upcoming season.


Here are the top five seniors to watch in 2013.



5) Tre' Porter (SR - Safety)


This group of seniors is very defensive heavy.

Tre' Porter has been an asset for the Texas Tech defense since he got in Lubbock. His freshman season recording 76 tackles, leading all Big 12 freshmen in that category.

Since then it has been up and down for the Midwest City, Oklahoma native.

In 2011, Porter recorded 24 tackles with 21 of those being solo in just seven games played and in 2012 got more playing time with 11 games played and racking up 30 tackles.

With Cody Davis gone it is now it is time for Porter to really shine in his senior campaign.

In the spring game where the defense truly shined, comparing to the past few years, and Porter put in some good numbers recording four tackles, all solo.

This next season, Porter will be a key part of the defensive unit along with a few other seniors.


4) Bruce Jones (SR - Cornerback)  & Will Smith (SR – Linebacker)


In a senior class it is always hard to boil it down to the top five players so at number four I have decided two players qualify.


Starting it off with Bruce Jones.


In the Big 12 Conference, where every team likes to air it out and average 300-plus yards passing in every game it is crucial for a team to have not only a good secondary but a great secondary to hope to finish atop the conference.


Jones will be a key part of the secondary and has shown flashes of great moments so far. The Eastvale, California native, who transferred from Riverside Community College, played in 13 games, six starts, recorded 31 tackles.


The tackles were spread across the season with him recording five tackles in a single game on three occasions and recorded a tackle in 12-of-13 games in 2012.


Along with the tackles, Jones was good at breaking up passes, finishing second on the team with seven including three against former West Virginia Mountaineer and current New York Jet Geno Smith.


Joining Jones on the defense is former teammate at Riverside Community College is linebacker Will Smith.


Smith finished the 2012 season with 55 tackles and 34 of those being solo. His performance in his inaugural season in the red and black earned him onto the Phil Steele All-Big 12 Third Team and a Honorable Mention on the Dallas Morning News All-Big 12 team.


The middle linebacker area of the field is going to be fun to watch in 2013 with Blake Dees and Will Smith joining forces.


I expect Will Smith to be named to the All-Big 12 team after this season and his NFL stock to skyrocket. Smith possesses speed, power and when he hits someone it's just fun to watch.




3) Sadale Foster (SR - Running Back)


Now switching gears from the defense to the offense for a bit, the backfield is going to be one of the areas to watch in 2013.


People think I am crazy when I start talking about how much of the running game we will see this upcoming season, considering everyone is expecting the Kingsbury-style offense to average 450 yards passing per game.


But with the set of running backs that this roster possesses, handing the ball off will be a big part of the offense in 2013.


One of the running backs that will be getting a good amount of playing time will be Sadale Foster.


Foster a 5-foot-7 187-pound running back out of Riverside, California played in 13 games in 2012 with one start.


In his junior campaign Foster rushed the ball 91 times for 451 yards and three touchdowns.


Foster also recorded 18 catches for 88 yards and 18 kickoff returns for 392 yards averaging 21.8 yards per kickoff return.


Foster has been a multi-tool player with his ability to barrel out of the backfield and run routes to perfection.


2013 will be a big season for Foster in the backfield and going out for passes.


2) Kerry Hyder (SR - Defensive Line)


When counting down the top five players for the Red Raiders in the senior class, it would be a crime to leave out Kerry Hyder.


Really a remarkable young man who, despite having a different defensive coordinator each year he has been at Tech, has gotten better and better each season.


In his first season he recorded just 13 tackles in 11 games, in 2011 it was a breakout season with 42 tackles in 12 games, 29 solo.


Finally in his junior campaign it was 56 tackles with 42 solo that put him above the rest. Getting better each season was not a joke; the stats are there to prove it.


With those stats, Hyder finished fifth in tackles for loss and seventh in sacks in the Big 12. His 10.5 tackles for loss in Big 12 play marked the most by a Red Raider in league play since Brandon Sharpe recorded 14 in 2009.


Following a standout junior season, people took notice with Hyder being named to the AP All-Big 12 First Team, All-Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year Honorable Mention and Austin American Statesman All-Big 12 First Team.


Of course there is a whole list of accolades that Hyder received following the 2012 season but there are too many to list.


The last two seasons the Red Raiders have failed to have anyone drafted into the NFL. Of course there have been players to sign free-agent contracts but none drafted.


Hyder is one of those players that could break that streak and I am expecting to have another stellar season for the Red Raiders in 2013.


1 ) Eric Ward (SR - Wide Receiver)


Well the top player to watch in the senior class is a player that could have gone to the Big Show after last season and more than likely would have been drafted, but decided to come back for one last ride.


Eric Ward has not only become a good wide receiver but a go-to target for whoever has taken the snaps from under center for the Red Raiders the last two seasons.


Ward finished with 800 yards receiving on 84 catches for 11 touchdowns. Well that was only an appetizer of what was to come in his junior year.


In 12 games in 2012 the Wichita Falls, Texas native went bonkers with 82 catches for 1,053 yards and 12 touchdowns. Ward increased his average on yards per catch from 9.5 per catch in 2011 to 12.8 per catch in 2012, which is an impressive step up.


When it came to the Big 12, Ward finished fourth in 100-yard receiving games with five, third in receiving touchdowns, fifth in receiving yards and receiving yards per game.


At the end of the season Ward earned his way onto a few lists including All-Big 12 Honorable Mention, San Antonio Express-News All-Big 12 First Team and Biletnikoff Award Watch List.


Expect Ward to have another 1,000-yard receiving season in 2013 and improve on his numbers some more. Just like Hyder I fully expect Ward to be drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft and make a big impact on the next level.


But first we get to enjoy watching him make safeties and corners look silly and leap for more touchdown passes in the red and black for at least one more season.


So be excited that the 2013 season is almost here and Eric Ward will have another season to finish etching his name in the Texas Tech record book.

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