Texas Tech is loaded with talent at multiple receiver positions. What had been a major struggle in the Tommy Tuberville era became a strong suit with six Texas Tech alums, all of whom were coached by Mike Leach.
Perhaps the most improvement came at the inside receiver position which is coached by Eric "The Elf" Morris. Under former coach Tommy Tuberville, most of the receptions were relegated towards two players. Wide receivers Darrin Moore and Eric Ward were the only receivers who caught more than 40 passes in 2012. Texas Tech produced four receivers with at least 40 receptions in 2013 and only one of them is a senior.
All four receivers with over 40 receptions produced over 500 yards. This came with two true freshman starting every game at quarterback.
The receivers stepped up and made plays although sometimes they had to risk their lives. Take for example, junior tight end Jace Amaro who was constantly pounded by linebackers. Amaro finished with 98 receptions for 1,240 yards and seven touchdowns. Amaro was not named a finalist for the Mackey Award although the next closest tight end has 55 receptions for 895 yards. His impressive statistics were not the only consistent thing this season. Amaro seemed to sustain some sort of injury each game after being pounded by linebackers while making exceptional plays.
Possibly the most entertaining receiver to watch was sophomore Jakeem Grant. The 5-foot-6 inside receiver provided highlight reel moves throughout the season. One of the more memorable moves featured Grant evading tacklers while running backwards and managing to escape. Another highlight saw Grant being surrounded by at least three defenders and eluding all of them for more yardage.
If one of the previous two were not making plays, Eric Ward was. Ward was completely shut down against TCU and at one point in the season had seven receptions in three games. As the season went on, Ward started to find the end zone. He had at least eight receptions in each of the Red Raiders final five games.
Possibly the biggest playmaker in the first half of the season was junior wide receiver Bradley Marquez. He had multiple receptions in each of the first eight games of the season. The biggest of those receptions came in the TCU game. After starting quarterback Baker Mayfield sustained a game-ending injury, true freshman Davis Webb needed to find an open receiver. He found Marquez in the back corner of the end zone. The victory seemed like a huge win at the time and boosted Tech towards a 7-0 start and the earliest Top 25 ranking in any coaching era of Texas Tech history.
With all of the fireworks early on in the season, things did not end rosy for the receiving corps. Tech's passing game came to halt at the start of the second quarter against Baylor and never got off the ground against Texas. The Red Raiders were held to their lowest number of points in the season in the final game. In addition, Tech only scrounged up 302 yards in the air, a statistic that is normally taken for granted by the Red Raider faithful.
It will be interesting to see where the receiving corps will go from here. Marquez is a minor league baseball player and could leave Texas Tech at any time to concentrate on that career. Ward is a senior and will graduate. Amaro has yet to announce his decision regarding the NFL Draft, but has confirmed he knows what his decision is.
The Future: Texas Tech currently has five wide receiver commits and why not? Known as "Wide Receiver U" after producing Danny Amendola, Michael Crabtree and Wes Welker, it's easy for receiving recruits to get excited about Texas Tech. This class includes 2013 Gatorade Oklahoma Player of the Year Cameron Batson.
There is no shortage of talent at Texas Tech. You can't count out some of the wide receivers on the current roster though. Freshman Reginald Davis made a nice impact late in the season. In the final two games of the season, Davis caught six passes and averaged over 10 yards per reception. Davis also scored a touchdown against Baylor. His career high of four receptions came against Texas.
Freshman Dylan Cantrell has shown promise with nine receptions for 70 yards and his first career touchdown. Another freshman receiver who will make an impact in years to come is D.J. Polite-Bray. There is no shortage of talent at Texas Tech.