Texas Tech Attacking DL Numbers Issue

Several Red Raider defensive linemen, including all projected starters, are expected to exhaust their eligibility in 2015. Texas Tech has been creative in addressing its needs at the critical position moving forward. Get the details inside.

When RaiderPower.com asked Kliff Kingsbury at his National Signing Day press conference back in February which position he felt Texas Tech missed on and needed to be addressed the most in 2016 he said without hesitation, "defensive line".

On Monday during his breakout session at Big 12 Media Days in Dallas, with 19 commits already on board, including four defensive linemen at the time, RaiderPower.com asked Kingsbury which positions he planned to address to fill out the 2016 class.

The first answer, again without hesitation? Defensive line.

Kingsbury is a man of his word.

Most are well aware several defensive linemen will likely exhaust their eligibility this upcoming season. Projected starters Branden Jackson, Rika Levi, Keland McElrath and Pete Robertson along with fellow senior linemen Marcus Smith and Demetrius Alston are all expected to conclude their college careers in 2015.

Obviously the mass exodus at such a pivotal position is a cause for concern, but the Red Raiders have been creative in attempting to soften the blow.

Texas Tech replaced it's former defensive line coach, John Scott, following the season with Mike Smith. Whether or not the move will prove fruitful one can only guess at this point, but according to Branden Jackson, early returns say this was a good move.

Tech also moved athletic offensive lineman Josh Outlaw (6-4, 309) to the other side of the ball late last season and he looked like a natural in the spring. In fact, the sophomore is listed in the post spring depth chart two-deep at defensive tackle.

While Tech signed just two defensive tackles in the 2015 class, one was five-star Breiden Fehoko (6-3, 293), who enrolled early, participated in spring and like Outlaw, has worked his way up the depth chart. Broderick Washington (6-3, 313), who mostly played offensive line in high school, was the other signee. Jackson said Washington has surprised many with his strength and mean streak, so there is a possibility the staff hit on both.

Lonzel Gilmore (6-3, 217) is another 2015 signee who could be considered a defensive lineman as he is currently slotted down the depth chart at Robertson's hybrid position. He has already impressed with his athleticism and work ethic.

Earlier this month Tech added former blue-chip defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins (6-3, 317), who is transferring from Michigan. Pipkins, who has suffered a torn ACL and from concussions in the past, has to sit out 2015, but will be available for his senior year in 2016.

All of these moves are very important, but perhaps the most integral component to fixing the depth problem at defensive line moving forward is compiling a large haul in the 2016 class, the current recruiting cycle.

As of Monday when Kingsbury spoke at Big 12 Media Days, the Red Raiders already had four announced defensive linemen commits. They have since added two more.

Arkansas defensive tackle Nicholas McCann announced his commitment Tuesday afternoon via Twitter and told RaiderPower.com that his relationship with coach Trey Haverty, friendship with tight end commit Donte Coleman and respect for Tech's business school all played a major role in his decision. He picked Tech over several offers, including in-state rival Baylor.

Later Tuesday night the Red Raiders added another defensive line commit in Pflugerville Hendrickson defensive end Austin Deshay. Rated as a three-star prospect by Scout, Deshay's 6-foot-5 frame is intriguing. He also holds offers from Big 12 rivals Baylor and Oklahoma State.

The previous four defensive line commits, two at tackle, two at end, all committed since May 21 beginning with junior college two-star prospect Mychealon Thomas (6-2, 324). Thomas was a dominant tackle for Dallas Skyline, but did not qualify and instead played at Butler Community College last season.

Amarillo defensive tackle Ivory Jackson announced his commitment to Tech in early June. The 6-3, 275-pound West Texan has been a fan of Tech for much of his childhood and chose the Red Raiders over the likes of Kansas, Kansas State and SMU.

Tech then added a pair of very good defensive end prospects withing days of each other in mid-June in Keller's Houston Miller and Oklahoma Southmoore's Noah Jones.

The 6-3, 228-pound Miller holds power five offers from programs coast-to-coast and is a major cog in solidifying the defensive line class.

The 6-4, 245-pound Jones is rated as the top defensive end in Oklahoma and is a guy climbing up every recruiting services' recruiting rankings. It's not too much of a stretch to picture these two guys as Tech's starting defensive ends in a couple seasons.

With three defensive tackles and three defensive ends on board the thought is Tech will take possibly one more of each in this class.

Here are some prospects in the mix to fill those spots:


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