Critical 20: No. 16 Bradley Marquez

Like any football team, Texas Tech has several players whose performance will be particularly critical to the squad's success. These players, whether by virtue of experience, leadership, importance of the position played, depth concerns, or sheer talent, are especially crucial. They may or not be the best players on the club, but they would be very conspicuous were they absent for any reason.

Perhaps the best way to conceive of the critical players is to determine if they are the performers the team could least afford to lose.

With this series, we will take a reverse order look at the Red Raider football players we consider most invaluable.

Texas Tech Critical Twenty
Gary MooreDERS FRClarksville, TX6-5245No. 20
Rodney HallRBSRAngleton, TX5-10240No. 19
Donte PhillipsDLJRMilwaukee, WI6-2280No. 18
DeAndre WashingtonRBJRMissouri City, TX5-8190No. 17
Bradley MarquezWRSROdessa, TX5-11200No. 16

Inside receiver Bradley Marquez is obviously a very good college football player. Through three seasons as a Red Raider, Marquez has reeled in 90 passes for 1045 yards and seven touchdowns, while turning in good performances as a kickoff returner as well. And Marquez put up those receiving numbers despite missing half of his sophomore season because of injury.

But as strong as Marquez's on-field contributions are, the intangibles he brings to the team may be even more important. A two-time Academic All Big 12 first-teamer, Marquez is amazingly mature and well-spoken, in addition to being one of the friendlier and more polite people one will ever meet. The term "student athlete," sadly, is very often a joke, but when applied to Marquez, it is accurate. He is the archetype of what a student athlete should be, but all too rarely is.

Marquez is also one of the most experienced and versatile players on the team. A returning starter, Marquez contributed strongly as a true freshman, and has been an integral part of the Tech offense ever since. Marquez will play inside receiver in 2014, but he is equally at home on the outside, and indeed, was a master of outside fade and go routes last season.

Marquez also plays with a toughness that belies his personable demeanor. From the moment he first stepped on Tech's practice field, Marquez ran—he began his career as a running back—physically and blocked with dogged tenacity. As a superb blocker downfield and on bubble screens, Marquez continues the Red Raider tradition of receivers who block like fullbacks.

It will be interesting to see Marquez's receiving production in 2014. Starting at the other receiver positions alongside Marquez will be D. J. Polite-Bray, Reginald Davis and Jakeem Grant. Kliff Kingsbury fully expects Grant to have a colossal season, while Davis showed real flashes of brilliance late last year, and Polite-Bray was a lightning bolt in the spring.

Obviously, with so much talent at the receiver position, the ball will be spread around quite a bit, and no single receiver may put up Michael Crabtree-type numbers. Factor in that Marquez is backed up by the extremely capable Jordan Davis, and Marquez could be, statistically, the quiet man of the Red Raider offense.

Regardless of the numbers he puts up, however, Marquez will be one of the adhesives who binds the Red Raiders as a team. And you can't put a price on that.

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