The Red Raiders are only two games into the 2013 football season and almost half of Tech's most recent recruiting class has played. These players have thus eliminated the possibility of the traditional redshirt season.
Of the 22 players in the class who made it to campus and are eligible to play at this point, 10 have seen action. And interestingly enough, three of the five JUCO newcomers--Martin Hill, Dorian Crawford and Tyler Middleton—have not.
To this point, none of the newcomers have made a massive impact, but the season is still very young. Expect a few of these first-year Red Raiders to play key roles later in the season. And what's more, don't be surprised if two or three other members of the 2013 recruiting class lose their redshirts before all is said and done.
Davis Webb: With surprise starter Baker Mayfield tearing it up, expected starter Michael Brewer torn up, and mystery man Clayton Nicholas wondering what's up, speculation was rampant that talented freshman quarterback Davis Webb would redshirt. Kliff Kingsbury put paid to those suspicions when he played Webb all but one series of the second half against Stephen F. Austin. The probable reason for Kingsbury's decision is that Brewer will not be game-ready anytime soon, and that the coach doesn't trust Nicholas as his backup QB.
Webb looked against the Lumberjacks as he looked against the Tech defense in summer scrimmages. In other words, most of the time he looked like a future NFL player, but then scuttled that impression by exhibiting poor judgment and tossing easy picks deep down the field. There is no question that Mayfield is the better quarterback at this point.
Baylen Brown: It's not easy for a true freshman to play in the Big 12 on the offensive line, but owing in part to Tony Morales' lingering shoulder injury, Brown has been pressed into duty as Jared Kaster's backup at the center position. To this point more lauded offensive line prospects Josh Outlaw and Poet Thomas maintain their redshirts.
Dee Paul: Cornerback has been a worry for the Red Raiders, and although starters Bruce Jones and Ola Falemi have so far performed credibly, the Tech coaching brass aren't taking any chances and have thrown the speedy Paul into the fire. Paul struggled in coverage against Stephen F. Austin, but with his raw skill and good measureables, should improve quickly.
Dylan Cantrell: Hopes for this big wideout have been high ever since he signed with the Red Raiders, and Cantrell has already validated some expectations by playing as a true frosh. What's more, Cantrell looked pretty good against SFA. Davis Webb really fed him the rock to the tune of six catches for 56 yards. Cantrell didn't drop a pass, and that itself is fairly impressive for such a busy first outing at the collegiate level.
Malik Jenkins: What the Ennis linebacker has done is quite a surprise. Jenkins was considered a probable redshirt, but instead has played in both games and is actually tied for seventh on the team in tackles with six. He also has two tackles for loss, a sack, a pass breakup and a pass defended. At this point Jenkins looks like the biggest defensive surprise of the class
D. J. Polite-Bray: The freshman from Georgia got into the Stephen F. Austin game and caught one pass. Kliff Kingsbury believes in keeping fresh receivers in the game. Polite-Bray will help him do just that.
Zach Barnes: The Georgia linebacker has played in both games and made a tackle. The Red Raiders lose linebackers Will Smith and Terrance Bullitt next season; the emergence of Barnes and Malik Jenkins will soften the blow.
Carlos Thompson: If Jenkins is the biggest defensive surprise of the class, Carlos Thompson looks like a strong candidate for that honor on the offensive side of the ball. No, he has not caught a pass, but against SFA Thompson recorded monster returns on punts and kickoffs. Thompson put up huge numbers as a high school receiver, but Tech only had to beat Louisiana-Lafayette and Old Dominion for his services. He could be a future star in the Big 12.
Andre Ross: JUCO linebacker Ross was a late addition to Tech's recruiting class but has made an impact early. Through two games he has seven tackles, the same number as Terrance Bullitt.
Demetrius Alston: Because of various defections and disappearances, the Red Raiders needed help on the defensive line and Alston has provided it. He looks like a very active lineman who will make plays at least from tackle to tackle, if not sideline to sideline.