Texas Tech Gets Major OL Talent Infusion

The Red Raiders signed five offensive linemen Wednesday giving offensive line coach Lee Hays and Kliff Kingsbury a foundation of talent to work with.

Texas Tech’s 2015 signing class is a mixed bag, to put it charitably, but there is real consolation to be found on the offensive line. And make no mistake, this is a position of real need. Heading into next season, Le’Raven Clark, Jared Kaster, Alfredo Morales and Tony Morales will be seniors, while Baylen Brown will be a junior. That is a great deal of upperclass talent, and Kliff Kingsbury needed to begin reinforcing it with quality youth. He did that with the 2015 class.

The offensive line signees are guard Cody Wheeler from Allen, tackle Terrence Steele from Cibolo, tackle Madison Akamnonu from Arlington, tackle Conner Dyer from Mesquite and tackle Trace Ellison from Frisco. Akamnonu and Dyer are Scout four-star prospects, while the other three players sport three-star billing.

Wheeler, who Tech pried away from North Texas, looks like a real find. He is an exceptional drive blocker, disengages and picks off secondary targets, and plays the game with an edge. He can also play center equally well as guard. I would expect him to play as a freshman, backing up Alfredo Morales.

Steele really looks the part of a tackle. He’s 6-foot-6, 295 pounds and has long arms. Steele explodes at the snap and delivers a hard punch. He probably needs to gain some upper body strength, but with a redshirt season spent in the strength and conditioning program, he could be ready to contribute in 2016.

Akamnonu, who played at Arlington Bowie, the same high school that produced legendary Tech linebacker Brad Hastings, could have signed with just about any school he wanted to. He’s not quite as bulky as Steele, but is a more polished prospect. Akamnonu has exceptional footwork for a young player and is a great technician, particularly in the run game. He understands leverage and how to execute every play. It is not out of the question that he could play as a true freshman, particularly if he can get his weight to above 285.

Dyer, the other four-star tackle, is simply a monster. A destroyer. He’s got a real nasty streak, but plays the game cleanly. In addition to being very stout, Dyer is quick and athletic. It is not uncommon to see him pancake an opponent, bounce up like he’s coming off a trampoline, and polish off one more hapless foe before the whistle blows. Ellison has the look of a player fully capable of continuing in the fine Tech tackle tradition of Rylan Reed, LaAdrian Waddle and Le’Raven Clark.

Ellison is notable first and foremost for his quickness and mobility. He is a tackle who seemingly makes as many blocks downfield as he does at the line of scrimmage. And at 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, he has pretty much a prototype frame. Ellison, Dyer, Steele and Akamnonu (not to mention redshirt freshmen Robert Castaneda and Justin Murphy) pretty much guarantee that Tech will be in good shape at offensive tackle for the foreseeable future.

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