If Derrick Willies turns out to be Texas Tech’s Mr. Outside this season, then Ian Sadler may well emerge as Mr. Inside. In 2015, the junior from Argyle, Texas caught 42 passes for 596 yards—both third best on the team—and three touchdowns, while averaging 14 yards per grab. He did this despite playing in only 10 games and starting in eight. With a year unmarred by injury, Sadler has the potential to put up tremendous numbers this season, much the way Jakeem Grant did a year ago.
Despite both playing inside receiver, however, Grant and Sadler are quite different players. Grant was blessed with tremendous speed, and cat quick direction change that left many a defender grasping at vapor. Sadler, although no Incredible Hulk, is quite a bit larger than Grant, has surer hands, and plays a more physical, workmanlike game.
Sadler’s work strongly resembles that of former Tech great Danny Amendola, as well as NFL do-it-all Julian Edelman. Indeed, Sadler’s toughness suggests he could be a pretty fair spot defender much like the New England Patriots receiver.
Much as we noted with Willies, a previous entrant in this list, the astounding wealth of talent in Texas Tech’s receiving corps suggests strongly that no single receiver will have a statistically gobsmacking season. And that talent applies not just to starters like Sadler, but also to backups such as Jonathan Giles, who figures as Sadler’s understudy this season.
What’s more, it is entirely possible that Devin Lauderdale, Tech’s best outside receiver a year ago, and a recent returnee from suspension, will be moved inside. Such a move would dramatically strengthen an inside receiving corps that is already plenty stout, and would spread the wealth of receptions even more broadly.
Regardless of where Lauderdale plies his trade, however, there can be no doubt that Sadler will figure prominently in Tech’s passing game. Sadler is Tech’s most reliable weapon in the short passing game, and over the middle, and is an ideal option as a hot receiver against blitzes.
Like Amendola before him, look for a healthy Sadler to be a mover of the chains. Such receivers don’t necessarily draw the oohs and aahs the way Michael Crabtree and Jakeem Grant did, but they are every bit as important to the offense’s success.