One of the biggest questions surrounding Texas Tech fall camp is the linebacker corps.
Coming out of spring ball it was apparent senior Micah Awe was the leader and man at Mike linebacker while Kris Williams had emerged at Will after opening spring at defensive end. What about the Sam or strongside linebacker position?
Though Tech will be in alignments which call for just two or even a single 'backer against the spread teams of the Big 12, they will also be tested by teams who will line up in power formations such as Arkansas and Texas. "Thumpers" will be needed in those situations and Malik Jenkins is the prime candidate at Sam.
"Malik has a unique skill set," said Awe after practice Thursday. "He's a bigger guy, who if he completely puts his mind together he'll be a force to be reckoned with, just like a lot of the other linebackers we've got. Really for him it's not the physical part, he has potential physically beyond anything, it's just getting the mental together and that's the struggle of a linebacker every day."
Jenkins isn't just working at one linebacker spot though. The constant message from the defense this fall camp is they will know everyone's responsibility on most plays in an effort to play more in sync and be as interchangeable as possible.
"We have different (personnel) packages so I'm trying to learn all three linebacker spots so I can be as versatile and help the team the most I can when it comes time," Jenkins said earlier this week. "I've been switching from Will to Mike, but that's the good thing about learning all this. I'm primarily at Sam, though."
Jenkins signed with Tech out of Ennis in 2013 and has tallied 18 total tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack in 20 game appearances mostly on special teams.
When asked about the linebacker corps as a whole, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound junior said he expects the position group to surprise some with their play once the season begins.
"We have a very, very athletic group," Jenkins said. "We're very athletic and we're smart. We're more mature than a lot of people think. One thing people can expect from us is we're going to run really fast and we're going to hit really hard."