Critical 20: No. 16 Tevin Madison

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.

Tevin Madison’s emergence as a seven-game starter as a true freshman came as a bit of a shock to most Texas Tech observers, but perhaps it shouldn’t have. After all, Texas Tech has made a habit of turning little known defensive back recruits into solid college players and even professionals. In recent memory, the likes of Carl Carter, Roland Mitchell, Anthony Malbrough, Sammy Walker, Eric Everett and Joselio Hansen went from relative recruiting obscurity, to being selected in the NFL draft. And all but Malbrough made the cut. It’s early, but Madison could be on the same track.

At 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Madison is slightly undersized for the position, but so far has compensated by playing the game with high competitiveness and bulldog toughness. These traits brought Madison to the coaches’ attention almost immediately last August. Word quickly got out that Madison, who some saw as an afterthought recruit, was making a push to play as a freshman. And indeed, while there were already a few veteran cornerbacks on the roster, Madison vaulted over them and played extensively in the season opener against Central Arkansas, logging a team high nine tackles and breaking up three passes. Although Central Arkansas was no Baylor, Madison served notice that he had a bright future as a Red Raider.

For the season Madison tallied 56 tackles, three tackles for loss, seven pass breakups and an interception. The obscure prospect from a 3A school in Northwestern Alabama had himself a very solid freshman year.

Now a sophomore, Madison is presently slated as backup to Justis Nelson—another overlooked recruit—at left cornerback. Fellow true sophomore Nigel Bethel looks—at least for the moment—to start at the other cornerback spot. If the current depth chart manages to hold true for the duration of the season, and Madison never starts a game, he will still be a very important part of Tech’s defense. Because of his good coverage skills, the suspicion is that Madison will be on the field when the Red Raiders go to a nickel package, which will be very frequently in Big 12 competition.

But it is by no means certain that Madison won’t emerge as a starter. Justis Nelson, particularly in last year’s close loss to Baylor, demonstrated that he can be a quality safety, and indeed, may be better at that position than at corner. If, for whatever reason, Nelson slides to safety, Madison will start. And for the matter of it, if Bethel struggles on the other side of the field, it is entirely possible that Madison could get the call there. At worst, Madison is Tech’s No. 3 cornerback, and as such, will see the field plenty, one way or the other.

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