Critical 20: No. 1 Davis Webb

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
Ryan BustinKSRKilgore, TX5-11180No. 13
Rika LeviNTJRSan Francisco, CA6-3350No. 12
Keenon WardSSOSnyder, TX5-9195No. 11
Rashad FortenberryOTSRTylertown, MS6-5285No. 10
Justis NelsonCBSOMesquite, TX6-2170No. 9
D.J. Polite-BrayWRSOLithonia, GA6-1175No. 8
Sam EguavoenLBSRGarland TX6-1220No. 7
Jakeem GrantWRJRMesquite, TX5-6160No. 6
Branden JacksonDEJRMcKeesport, PA6-4265No. 5
Pete RobertsonLBJRLongview, TX6-3225No. 4
J.J. GainesSJRIrving, TX5-10180No. 3
Le'Raven ClarkOLJRRockdale, TX6-5320No. 2
Davis WebbQBSOProsper, TX6-4220No. 1

I have watched Texas Tech football since Ron Reeves' freshman season of 1978. I have covered Texas Tech football since Sonny Cumbie's great senior season in 2004. I've observed every Tech quarterback from Zebbie Lethridge to Graham Harrell. And through all of those years, never have I been as high on a quarterback as I am on Davis Webb.

"The sky is the limit" is probably the most overused sports cliché when used to describe a player's potential. But in the case of Webb, it is entirely accurate. By the time he finishes his collegiate career, I fully expect him to be the consensus "best quarterback in Texas Tech football history."

Statistically, Webb was pretty doggone impressive for a true freshman. He started six games, including the Holiday Bowl from which he took home Offensive MVP honors. On the season Webb completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,718 yards, with 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions. His 139 passing efficiency rating was third best nationally among freshman signal callers.

But Webb has a certain something that relegates his statistical record almost to afterthought status. And it is surely one of those things that causes NFL scouts to nod their heads sagely and mark down "first round" in their little black books.

Specifically, the thing that most jumps out about Webb is his stature in the pocket. He is a legitimate 6-foot-4 and looks every inch of it when he drops back to pass. His pose is statuesque and confident. Webb simply looks dangerous. And his head is always up, scanning the field like a seasoned point guard leading the fast break. In my memory, Tech has never had a quarterback with Webb's pocket presence.

Second, and almost as important, Webb has an NFL arm. Again, a cliché springs to mind: Davis Webb can make every throw. His passes never flutter, float or drift. He simply zings the ball from point A to point B in nothing flat. His passes leave a vapor trail.

Now if that wasn't enough to convince one of Webb's importance to the 2014 Red Raiders, depth concerns should be. Behind Webb will be two freshmen, one a walk-on, the other a decorated recruit. The former is Vincent Testaverde, Jr., the latter is Patrick Mahomes.

Now perhaps Mahomes will be just as good as Webb was last year and all worries will be for naught. But you wouldn't want to lay much money on it. True freshmen who are capable of playing quarterback well at the Big 12 level are pretty scarce.

Bottom line, Davis Webb is as important to the 2014 Red Raiders as Rodney Allison was to the 1977 team. And if you know your Tech football history, that should bring a lump to your throat.

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