Last month actually marked the second time Kliff Kingsbury and most of his current staff managed the feat as they picked up eight commits around National Signing Day in February of 2013, not too long after being hired. That stretch saw the staff reel in, in order, pledges from Martin Hill, Demetrius Alston, Aaron Bennett, Kahlee Woods, D.J. Polite-Bray, Poet Thomas, Jacarthy Mack and Josh Outlaw.
Though none of the players mentioned above have made significant impacts on the field so far, many have contributed and a couple--D.J. Polite-Bray and Demetrius Alston--have starts under their belts.
So far, the top recruiting stretch under Kingsbury would probably be the month of April 2013, when the Red Raiders landed Demarcus Felton (up and coming running back), Patrick Mahomes (likely starting quarterback), Cameron Batson (primary punt returner), Ian Sadler (starting inside receiver) and Tevin Madsion (starting or likely nickel corner). One could argue that was the backbone of the 2014 class. It's also worth noting that all five committed within five days of each other and that all but Felton pledged on or shortly following the spring game.
The 2015 class had a couple bursts of activity as well, most notably three commitments in one day when safety Christian Taylor, defensive end Lonzell Gilmore and California four-star receiver Tony Brown, each announced his intention to play for and attend Texas Tech. For the record, all three signed with the Red Raiders. Taylor and Gilmore have already made it to campus and Brown is still finishing up at La Mirada High School, but is expected to be on campus in time for the second summer session.
That brings us to this past month which saw Texas Tech take advantage of the player evaluation period and capitalize on some strong relationships to make May a noteworthy recruiting chapter of the Kingsbury era.
The following is a list of all eight commits from last month, in order, along with my take on what each brings to the table and how they might fit in to the program:
My take: This is an Emmett Jones special as the word is Texas Tech's director of player personnel is a family friend of Armstrong. The defensive back's commit got the ball rolling in early May. He fits defensive coordinator David Gibbs' desire for size at corner at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds.
All of the above is well and good, but can the kid play? That's a good question. I could throw a bunch of jargon at you from his HUDL highlights, but in truth I have no context for many of those clips as far as the score, personnel, time of the game, etc. due in most part to the fact that Armstrong played on a woeful 1-9 Dallas Carter squad. He has since transferred to DeSoto and will face many challenges.
First off, and I'm not joking, but he could have a hard time seeing the field for generally one of the more talent-laden programs in the nation. Assuming he does play a lot, he'll then face several top teams in high pressure situations.
In other words, we will soon find out what kind of prospect the Red Raiders have in Armstrong.
My take: Once again a connection pays dividends as Mike Jinks returned to his old stomping ground to dig up this gem.
I absolutely love this pick up. Cox-Wesley is the type of commitment from a relatively unknown prospect who the more you learn about the more impressed you become. He's a tall receiver at 6-foot-4, he plays for a great program at Cibolo Steele, he has made key plays against top competition and he has a legitimate reason for being under valued in recruiting circles as he plays in an extremely run-heavy offensive system.
Another thing which caught my eye about Cox-Wesley is that he qualified for the Class 6A UIL state meet in both the long jump and triple jump.
Anyone care for a tall receiver with freakish hops, who also knows how to run-block?
My take: I'm not going to lie, I let out a huge sigh of relief when this one came down the pike. Texas Tech needed a quarterback, and not just anybody, but a legitimate talent in a bad way.
Enter dual-threat quarterback Jett Duffey. The guy is as dangerous with his legs as he is with his arm and his arm impressed those at a NIKE camp in Charlotte enough for him to earn MVP honors and punch a ticket to the Elite 11 and The Opening this summer.
Without seeing Duffey in person, I have to say he is a much better talent than I expected Tech to land at this point and the staff has to be ecstatic about landing him.
The biggest concern at this point would have to be his height at 6-foot-0 and it is a legitimate one. That being said there is a precedent of recent success for smaller signal callers, including former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, who Kingsbury seemed to thrive with.
I definitely plan on seeing him in person this fall and will have a better gauge for what kind of ceiling Duffey has as a prospect. Of course, I love he's expected to be an early enrollee.
My take: Denley was perhaps the least surprising of this whole group of commitments, mostly because I had interviewed him in the past and he basically said he was going to end up at Tech due to his strong relationships with Jinks and former high school teammate Justin Stockton.
He definitely has other options, such as two-time defending Big 12 champs Baylor, but he became Tech's fourth commit of the month on May 15.
Denley told RaiderPower.com shortly after committing he will play both inside receiver and running back at Tech and it's easy to see why. He's been a productive running back for Steele the past two season, due to a nice blend of speed, decisiveness and power.
Looking at some film, Denley already spends a good amount of time in the slot for Steele, which should help his transition some as more of an all-purpose player at the next level.
Overall, I see Denley as another nice set piece for this offense in the future, another guy you can just put the ball in his hands in space and watch him go to work.
My take: Bowman was a bit of a surprise for me, but I still like the addition. He's expected to be an early enrollee, so he can count toward last class, which is a bonus. Tech also desperately needs numbers at the position so I get what they see in Bowman. He has a squat, compact frame, coupled with a shiftiness which is a great combination for an inside receiver.
I don't believe he's especially fast as far as top-end speed and I don't see him being a big star, but I could definitely see him getting a significant amount of reps and maybe even being a high-volume receptions guy if everything comes together for him.
A guy like him, they will just have to get on campus and see what they have.
My take: I don't know his situation first-hand so I won't speculate, but the fact is he moves around a lot. He attended at least a couple high schools his senior year and left the Iowa Hawkeyes program during the 2014 season.
He has since transferred to Trinity Valley Community College and will have two seasons of eligibility when he gets to Tech. The good news is he's another early enrollee. He's also another big target with considerable skill.
Honestly, of all the receivers in this group Willies may have the most talent and could end up being a star for the Red Raiders. He's an intriguing prospect and I'm anxious to see how he'll fit in.
My take: Another junior college player, but it's also at another need position. I actually did a nerdy first pump when I found out about this one as Thomas is a guy who caught my eye in a playoff game back in 2013. I covered Dallas Skyline's first round matchup with Plano because there were several Tech targets in that game--most notably 2014 safety signee Derrick Dixon.
Dixon was great in the game, he was the star, but Thomas grabbed my attention and stole some video time from Dixon as he dominated up front for much of the game. Below is some video with a couple clips of Thomas which I went back and found from that game just for this piece.
He's a massive human being who could use some help with his technique, but his raw power and quickness for a guy his size is a great canvas to start from.
Thomas is exactly the type of junior college commit Tech needs to come in and play immediately. I'll be anxious to see if he's in shape and if he's progressed with his technique.
It's worth noting before going the junior college route, Thomas originally signed with David Gibbs and Zac Spavital when they were at Houston. No doubt that prior relationship played a key role in his commitment with Tech.
My take: The Red Raider staff capped May off with a doozy as Stringer is exactly the type of defensive prospect the staff needs to start landing on a more regular basis.
Stringer is a tackling machine who shows great instincts. The first thing that stands out about his highlights is the way he plays with a reckless abandon, the way the game is meant to be played... especially at linebacker.
I honestly don't know how fast he is, because his recognition and reaction is so quick it's hard to gauge, but it definitely doesn't appear to be a problem. He definitely needs to gain some weight for the next level, but he has the frame at 6-3 to do so.
He told RaiderPower.com in an interview after he announced his commitment that he is solid to Tech and has shut down his recruitment. Hopefully, he can help recruit some like minded defenders to join the Red Raider cause.