Jack Reichel is a Red Raider.
The spring evaluation period has been full of activity as the coaches have been out on the road identifying, evaluating, and building relationships with potential future Red Raiders. The period was similar to others before it under head coach Kliff Kingsbury, but one thing was different this time around.
Many Red Raider fans are familiar with the JUCO late addition saga that occurred over the past couple of months, which was prompted by several unexpected departures along the offensive line. A series of JUCO prospects dating from Alex LoSoya on April 9th, to Jacob Hines last week, visited and received offers. Jack Reichel is the latest prospect in the saga, whose tenacity in practice caught the eye of assistant coaches Eric Morris and Lee Hays while they evaluated Kyle Mitchell, Reichel's teammate, in person. They stayed in contact ever since.
Reichel was offered by Texas Tech on Tuesday and immediately visited Lubbock, flying out from Sacramento the next morning. The visit, and his short timeline, were enough to prompt Reichel to commit and sign while on the visit.
"It's done. It's signed, it's official. Signed, sealed, and delivered."
Reichel, who tips the scales at 6-foot-5, 308 pounds, had one thing on his mind when he stepped off the plane.
"I landed in Lubbock and immediately started getting fed, had no choice. Great food, I couldn't believe the food here, it was insane. Mostly all I did was eat while I was here."
The West Texas fare was only one aspect of the visit that Reichel loved. He described the different activities the visit entailed.
"It was the best experience of my life. Visited the campus, went around the offices, met people, saw all the amazing things that this university has to offer. They're expanding the stadium. They played video on the Jumbotron, the entire time my jaw was just open. I couldn't believe it."
In addition to touring the campus, Reichel spent a lot of time with his future position coach and offensive coordinator.
"I spent a lot of time with [coach Hays], and a lot of time with Coach Morris. Drove me around. Coach Hays, we went to breakfast, lunch, and dinner almost every day. We had a lot of fun times. We talked about the future and what Texas Tech has to offer, and the great times that I could have here. A lot of fun. I knew that this was going to be a great place to play and a great opportunity for me. Hopefully we'll win a lot of games this year and have a lot of fun doing it."
While the break between the spring semester and the start of the first summer session resulted in a fairly empty campus, this didn't bother the visiting lineman.
"I met one [football player]. Right now there's barely anybody there because it is their off time. That's one thing they were saying, even though it's a little empty right now, when school gets started it's a madhouse. There was a player working out, I got to meet him. I have complete confidence in my teammates, I wasn't worried about student population or meeting players or all that stuff. I know these guys are great guys. A lot of players on Twitter followed me, said congrats about the signing and stuff like that, so I feel good. A lot of people were saying, 'Welcome to the family,' and stuff like that, so it feels good. It was a great visit. Great to see the facilities and meet the staff."
The next few weeks will be hectic for the Red Raider signee, who will be on campus in time to participate in summer workout activities.
"I'll be flying back down June 6th. Another quick turnaround, classes start June 7th, orientation and all that stuff."
The strength and conditioning staff impressed Reichel.
"I met one of them, I know there's a couple there. I met at least two of them. Got information, got a packet of workout information. Seemed like a great guy, big and strong, knows what he's doing. I know this is the real deal and they're gonna have me looking right."
Reichel talked at length with Hays about where he fits on the roster, and is excited about the opportunity to compete for a starting position.
"We did have that discussion and it all comes down to how I perform. He asked me which side I feel more comfortable in, and which position I'm more comfortable in. I played both, so it's kind of just a wait and see - if I perform better at one position than another, then I'd have a chance to play that position."
Reichel listed some things that stood out to him the most on the visit.
"To be honest, the food. The food was ridiculous. On a side note to that, definitely the coaches. Just the atmosphere, the city, the love they have for this team and the players, I could just feel that this is going to be a great place to live and attend school. I could just tell that this is it. It's going to be a great place to experience college."
The California prospect loves Lubbock, and talked about how it is different than his hometown of Sacramento.
"[Laughs] It's different. Definitely different. Sacramento is more of a big city, even though Lubbock's actually bigger than I thought it would be. It's different because it's big and it's also small. The community really gathers around the university which makes it great. Unlike Sacramento, there's tons of high schools and junior colleges. In this area, in Lubbock, this is kind of the big stage so it's better in a way."
Reichel's family back in Sacramento was supportive of his decision.
"They're extremely excited. You know, they were excited for me when they found out. Through the whole process, they've been really proud and couldn't believe it's happening after all this time."
Since Reichel is officially part of the football program now, his future interviews will be managed through the athletic department and coaches. He had one last message for Red Raider fans before he suits up for Tech.
"You guys will get the best out of me, I promise you that. I'm going to be loyal to the Red Raiders until the day I die."
Jack Reichel arrives as a true sophomore, with three years left to play and a redshirt available. As a full qualifier out of high school, he is enrolling right away and will be eligible to play this upcoming season.