Photo By Steven Chapman

Critical 20: No. 2 Breiden Fehoko

Like any football team, Texas Tech has several players whose performance will be particularly critical to the squad's success. These players, whether by virtue of experience, leadership, importance of the position played, depth concerns, or sheer talent, are especially crucial. They may or not be the best players on the club, but they would be very conspicuous were they absent.

The general consensus when Scout five-star defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko signed with Texas Tech was that he would start the moment he hit campus. And he did. All 13 games of the 2015 season, to be precise. Moreover, Fehoko earned honorable mention All Big 12 honors as voted by the conference’s coaches. He was a steady, solid, capable performer on a defense that had few others of his ilk. 

Statistically, Fehoko’s productivity may not look all that special. Over the course of the season he recorded 19 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, one interception, and one pass defended. But again, keep in mind that he was a true freshman playing in a Power 5 conference, that he wasn’t getting a great deal of support from his fellow linemen, and that he was often the focus of double teams. Looked at in that light, and also taking into account his outstanding durability, Fehoko had a good freshman campaign.

Now Fehoko is a year wiser, a little bit bigger and stronger, and is surrounded by a few players who are capable of drawing some of the fire away from him. Hence, if there was a fall camp MVP, it may well have been Michigan transfer Ondre Pipkins who is slated to start alongside Fehoko. Pipkins has talent comparable to Fehoko’s, is a grizzled veteran, and appears strongly motivated to put a disappointing Michigan career behind him, and to make a big mark for Texas Tech in his final season of college ball.

Depth on the interior of the line also looks much better than it did last season. As of this writing it appears that, in addition to Fehoko and Pipkins, the Red Raiders will roll with Broderick Washington, Mych Thomas, and Joe Wallace. 

Washington is a player who has generated rumblings and murmurs since arriving at Tech last season, and there was some thought that he wouldn’t redshirt. He did, however, and now we will all see what the behind-the-scenes chatter was all about. 

Wallace is a true freshman who has drawn near rave reviews from no less than Kliff Kingsbury for his fearlessness and explosion at the snap. Wallace will definitely play this season.

Thomas is a JUCO transfer, and along with Wallace, a Dallas Skyline alumnus. He chose Texas Tech over Boise State, Florida State, Baylor and Oklahoma State, among others, and is currently pegged as Fehoko’s backup. The expectation is that Thomas will succeed where several other JUCO defensive linemen did not over the past two seasons. 

With Fehoko leading the charge, alongside Pipkins, and with potential stars in Kolin Hill and Gary Moore at defensive end, it is possible that the defensive line will catalyze real defensive improvement for this team.  

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