Top Spring Storylines

Texas Tech starts spring football Wednesday with no shortage of juicy storylines for Red Raider fans to consider. Of course, unforeseen storylines will write themselves this spring, but the following is a sampler of important questions to be answered over the next several weeks.

Defense Breaks the Cycle
For the first time in six seasons Texas Tech returns for a second consecutive spring with the same defensive coordinator as the previous season.

Texas Tech hired Matt Wallerstedt away from Texas A&M in January of 2013, making him the the Red Raiders' fifth defensive coordinator in as many seasons. Wallerstedt followed in the footsteps of Ruffin McNeil (2009), James Willis (2010), Chad Glasgow (2011) and Art Kaufman (2012).

With Wallerstedt's return he joins McNeil (2007-09) as the only two in the group to make it to consecutive springs.

Texas Tech suffered through a roller coaster season on defense which coincided with the team's 7-0 start, five-game losing skid and ultimately with an upset of Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl.

Not only is Wallerstedt returning, but the entire defensive staff--co-defensive coordinator Mike Smith, cornerbacks coach Kevin Curtis, safeties coach Trey Haverty and defensive line coach John Scott Jr.-- is back.

It will be interesting to see if the stability will translate into a stronger performance on the field in the fall.

The Early Enrolees
Junior college transfers Josh Keys, Devin Lauderdale and Keland McElrath all enrolled at Tech this spring and are available to participate in spring football.

That's a good thing because all three are expected to be counted on heavily in the fall and are all candidates to start.

Lauderdale (5-11, 175) transferred in after spending a season at Navarro where he caught 33 passes for 669 yards and six touchdowns. The thought is the speedy Lauderdale will make an immediate impact on the receiving corps, and maybe even start outside.

Keys (6-3, 205), who transferred in from Mississippi Gulf Coast, is the odds-on favorite to earn the starting free safety gig, but he's not going to be gifted the position. If Keys shows the potential which drew offers from the likes of Auburn, Baylor and Texas A&M, he'll be a key part of the Red Raiders' secondary and potentially an All-Big 12 player at some point.

McElrath (6-5, 290) transferred in from Coahoma (MS) College and is one of a handful of highly touted JUCO defensive tackles Tech is bringing in to help shore up a depleted front line. Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal recently reported that McElrath suffered a foot stress fracture and is expected to miss the first half of spring ball.

QB Situation
It appears to be Davis Webb's show as the only scholarship quarterback on the roster this spring after running off Michael Brewer, Baker Mayfield and Clayton Nicholas, but what does the coaching staff have in terms of the walk-ons?

Mike Richardson (6-1, 195) and Tanner Tausch (6-2, 210) will audition to be Webb's backup this spring and who knows, as coach Kliff Kingsbury showed in 2013, the Red Raiders are not scared to trot out a walk-on.

The need to find a viable backup this spring is further stressed due to the real possibility of 2014 signeee Patrick Mahomes forgoing college and signing a pro baseball contract. Tech won't find out about Mahomes until this summer and even if the 2013 Associated Press Texas High School Football Player of the Year does make it to campus there is no guarantee he will be a slam dunk.

Tech needs one of the walk-ons to emerge in a bad way.

By the end of spring ball last season Tech had already landed six 2014 commits, including eventual four-star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, four-star wide receiver Ian Sadler and the Gatorade Oklahoma Player of the Year in Cameron Batson, who all committed after attending the spring game. Cornerback Tevin Madison committed the next day.

The Red Raiders currently have one commit in three-star running back prospect Corey Dauphine from Port Arthur Memorial.

Tech is in the mix for some high-profile prospects, including Stephenville four-star quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who visited just this past weekend and by all accounts is on the verge of giving the Red Raiders his verbal. Stidham is the type of prospect who could start a snowball effect, so stay tuned.

There might be a lot of "BOOMs!" this spring. If there isn't it may be time to start panicking.

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