Critical 20: No. 14 Micah Awe

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 may 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
Baylen BrownOLSOSan Antonio, TX6-4305No. 15
Micah AweLBJRArlington, TX6-0200No. 14

There are many oddities in Texas Tech's post-spring depth chart, not the least of which is Micah Awe's status as a backup to Sam Eguavoen at middle linebacker, and V.J. Fehoko and Malik Jenkins running one-two at weak inside linebacker. Conventional wisdom was that Eguavoen and Awe were clearly Tech's two best inside linebackers and that they would be paired off as starters at the two inside positions.

The projection here is that that is exactly what happens by the time Big 12 play rolls around at the latest. The current Tech depth chart looks like something Dr. Frankenstein whomped up in his basement rather than the battle plan with which the Red Raiders will go to war in 2014.

And that assessment is hardly intended as an aspersion on the abilities of Fehoko and Jenkins. Fehoko, a transfer from Utah, is clearly a find. He brings loads of energy to the Red Raider defense as well as a warrior mentality, and is clearly a favorite of defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt.

Jenkins is an athletic linebacker with the ability to make plays all along the line, and clearly has a very bright future. Tech is fortunate to have both players.

Thing is, Micah Awe, who tallied 58 tackles in 2013, 70 total in his first two seasons, brings many of the same things to the field that Fehoko and Jenkins do, and other things as well.

Awe, from the beginning of his Tech career, has demonstrated exuberance and tough-mindedness. He is the most explosive player on the Red Raider defense, and, like Jenkins, has the speed to chase down running backs from behind. What's more, and in contrast to Fehoko, Awe will not be a liability in coverage against the great passing attacks Tech will see in the Big 12. Add in Awe's experience in Wallerstedt's system and the fact that he's one of the brighter players on the team (Awe majors in petroleum engineering), and it's hard to believe he won't be one of Tech's key defenders.

Fehoko, on the other hand, will be an excellent situational linebacker for the Red Raiders, but I don't see him as a two- or three-down linebacker like Awe.

The suspicion here is that Sam Eguavoen eventually slides over to WILL, and that Awe moves up to the starting position at MIKE. Ultimately, for the vast majority of coaches, the goal is to get as many of his best players on the field at once as possible. Awe will prove himself as one of Tech's best players.

Raider Power Top Stories