Jackson Richards Earning More Snaps?

When Richards signed with Tech following a tremendous career at perennial powerhouse Southlake Carroll, expectations were that he would be an immediate impact player. That, he was not. Now, however, in his junior season, the lights have definitely come on for the 6-foot-4, 275 pounder.

All great football players do not hit the ground running.

Texas Tech receiver Eric Ward is a classic example. After two less than stellar seasons, some people were beginning to wonder if the highly touted wideout from Wichita Falls was ever going to amount to anything at the collegiate level.

Well Ward silenced his doubters by having a tremendous junior season, and now, in his senior campaign, is second only to Jace Amaro in receptions and receiving yards. He will depart Tech as one of the school's all-time leading receivers.

Junior defensive tackle Jackson Richards is a similar case. When Richards signed with Tech following a tremendous career at perennial powerhouse Southlake Carroll, expectations were that he would be an immediate impact player. That, he was not.

Richards' freshman season was entirely forgettable, and although he started 13 games as a sophomore, he rarely made his presence felt. You couldn't blame some folks for thinking Richards had been an overrated recruit.

Now, however, in his junior season, the lights have definitely come on for the 6-foot-4, 275 pounder. Richards has only started two games—against TCU and Texas State—yet leads the team in turnovers with three, having recovered two fumbles and snagged an interception. For a down lineman to lead his team in that stat is unreal, and if he maintains that distinction throughout the season you can bet that postseason hardware will be coming his way regardless of whether he starts another game.

But Richards may have one fairly important person in his corner when it comes to increased playing time. A certain Kliff Kingsbury has duly noted Richards' explosive performances this season.

"He [Richards] told us all he does is make plays," says the head coach. "So we need to find ways to get him in more. He's an excitable kid. He does everything the right way. He works, the way he handles himself in school, the way he practices. He's got a great energy."

The question is how to get the play-making Richards on the field more. Nose tackle Kerry Hyder is the team's defensive MVP, so the only thing that will get him off the field is a coughed up pancreas or a big platter of beans and brisket.

But Branden Jackson and Dartwan Bush, both quality players, will eventually lose reps to Richards if he continues playing at such a torrid pace. In the two games Richards started, he did so in place of Bush and was classed as a defensive tackle. Jackson, the usual defensive tackle, moved to Bush's defensive end spot. In this configuration, Tech's defensive line becomes bigger and more physical, but loses a bit of quickness and perhaps some, but not much, pass rushing ability.

Richards' forced fumble and fumble recovery against Kansas serves notice that he is more than capable of getting to quarterbacks in the pocket.

Iowa State, Tech's upcoming opponent, has a very balanced offense, so the Red Raiders' cause would be furthered by playing a defensive lineman who does the job against both the pass and the run. Sounds like a job for Jackson Richards.

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