Instant Impact: Josh Keys

Texas Tech has some immediate needs for 2014, especially on defense. Kliff Kingsbury and the staff have set out to plug some of those holes. The following is one in a series of looks at who can contribute immediately. First up is Mississippi Gulf Coast CC defensive back Josh Keys.

The mid-term signing of three-star defensive back Josh Keys from Mississippi Gulf Coast College in December may have the most immediate impact on the Red Raiders in 2014 based on the skills he brings to the table and the need he fills.

Veteran safety Tre' Porter, a solid performer who finished second on the team in tackles in 2013 with 76, has exhausted his eligibility and must be replaced. Freshman walk-on Tanner Jacobson, who also saw a lot of time due to J.J. Gaines' season-ending injury against Iowa State, has left the program to serve a two-year Morman mission.

That was the starting safety tandem for the 37-23 victory over Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl.

But it's not all doom and gloom. Gaines returns in 2014 for his junior season after tallying 16 tackles and a pair of interceptions in five starts in 2013. He also played in 13 games as a redshirt freshman in 2012, so he is a seasoned veteran and a known commodity.

That leaves an empty safety spot up for grabs. Enter Keys, who comes highly touted out of the state of Mississippi with an illustrious offer sheet which includes the likes of Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Cincinnati (you know why I included the Bearcats), Georgia, Kansas State, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, TCU, Tennessee, Texas A&M and West Virginia among others.

According to Gulf Coast's website Keys accounted for 16 tackles, two interceptions, three pass breakups and a fumble recovery last season in nine game at free safety.

His stats may not be eye-popping, but he was still an All-Region and All-Conference player in 2013.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Keys is a big, athletic, fast (is said to run a 4.4-second 40-yard time), aggressive, ball-hawking defensive back. Hence the ridiculous offer sheet.

It's hard to imagine him not starting in Tech's secondary next season. In fact, Keys has three seasons to play two, and should start alongside Gaines for the next two seasons.

But, there is a chance Keys plays corner at Tech if needed as he has shown the ability at Gulf Coast College.

He has also shown a lot of ability as a kick returner, but the Red Raiders should be loaded in that department next season and would probably not risk losing him to injury.

This is what Keys told me about his decision to play for Tech, shortly after committing.

"When I went out there for the visit I really liked the people out there and the coaches. It's a little city all about Texas Tech and Texas Tech football, you know Lubbock, and I love it," Keys said. "I really like coach (Kliff) Kingsbury and the way he coaches his team. He's on the rise right now, so I'm hoping my commitment makes the team better."

He should arrive on campus in the coming days.

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