On Wednesday the media got to talk to Kliff Kingsbury and all of the assistant coaches about the 2017 signing class. There was obviously a lot more discussed than just signing day stuff, but for these notes, I focused on the new additions to the program. I will have a separate report with all of the stuff that they said about the returners development.
The 2017 Signing Class Overall
- Kingsbury on the 2017 class overall: “As coaches you always feel like you did really well. It’s a unique class because we signed so many kids mid-year and a lot are already on campus which is exciting. We have never had this many kids with scholarship on campus at this time. So, it made it a little different on the back end since we could really focus on some 2018 kids and really get a jump start on those. So it was unique in that way.”
- Kingsbury on going after so many JUCO guys: “We know where we were lacking this past season. We have a lot of starters coming back but we were not exactly thrilled with the play at some of those positions so we wanted to create competition immediately and targeted guys that we had history with or we knew could play right away. We are very comfortable with the guys we brought in.”
- Kingsbury on open spots left: “We are going to hold a couple just late transfer guys, junior college players that we think can make an immediate impact and kind of go from there. There are a couple kids on our roster that might develop in the spring that we could use those spots for so we wanted to make sure we had enough that we could add some guys late if those spots are open.” He added these would ideally go to an offensive or defensive lineman that could “start right away” would be their top two priorities.
- Coach Patrick said if they do bring in a grad transfer on the defensive line it is going to be the “right guy” they aren’t going to bring in just somebody to fill the class.
Confident In the Defense’s Numbers
- Kingsbury on signing one defensive lineman: “No [it was intentional]. We felt like we had the numbers and did a good job addressing that issue last year with the defensive line and were able to redshirt quite a few of those players and felt they have developed enough that we felt good going in with what we have into the spring and only signing one.” He added that Fehoko leaving didn’t really change their stance on that, but it has them interested in a grad transfer that could come in and play immediately just for a body.
- Gibbs on justifying only signing one d-lineman: “He’s [Nelson Mbanasor] a really good one and he is already on campus. We signed a bunch last year and Eli [Howard] redshirted but he isn’t on scholarship but he is as good as anybody that is on scholarship so we feel good about our defensive line.”
- Gibbs said that he is glad that they got six defensive backs because it is going to create much needed competition there and help the secondary get better. He said that he went after length and height when recruiting those guys because that became his thing after he left the NFL.
- Coach Patrick on d-line recruiting for 2018: “[I’ll offer] as many as I can. It’s different this time because we took a lot last year. I know we take some more and he said he would love to take 4 or 5, but it really depends on the team’s needs by that point.”
- Kingsbury on Dakota Allen coming back: “We felt like [he] went off to East Mississippi did a great job there and by all reports handled his business there academically, on the field and off the field, ideal student-athlete. We felt comfortable with him. We felt like he made a mistake, paid for that mistake and everybody involved from the top down felt comfortable with bringing him back…”
- Kingsbury on a rush end: “John Picone is one that played that role in high school so we may see if that suits him but right now we are trying to find three guys that can stand up and run and we are really improving that linebacker crew. When you add Tony [Jones], Dakota [Allen], and Riko Jeffers, bringing D’Vonta [Hinton] back you think this group would be improved bringing back experience and leadership."
Who’s Going To Rush the Passer?
- Gibbs on the pass rush: “Eli Howard, Kolin Hill I think some guys will surprise you that were out of position or had to play a different position out of necessity a year ago.” He added that there will be a lot of different guys switching up positions this spring just based on personnel that they have now that they didn’t a year ago.
- Coach Patrick on pass rush: “There is no doubt [there is concern there]. When you look at some of the situations we were doing some things to help us out and when you are rushing three it’s a lot harder. Getting guys that are great with their hands. Kolin [Hill] has to improve in that area and he knows that, getting Eli [Howard] in there who is the best pass rusher that we have on the team...We have to do a better job there…”
Addressing Needs on Offense
- Texas Tech added a big offensive line class, which was much needed. All of the coaches are excited to have a lot of those guys on campus early and said getting them through the spring will be crucial to their development. The other big need that was fulfilled is a physical change of pace running back, which is exactly what they got in Desmond Nisby.
- Kingsbury was high on both of the quarterbacks that he brought in. After talking to Kingsbury and Morris today there is no doubt that Nic Shimonek has locked up the number one spot but Kingsbury said after Mahomes left they wanted to take one more in addition to Xavier Martin.
- Kingsbury on Jett Duffey: As far as I know, yes, he will be back and at fall camp we expect him to slide right in and compete. I know he is working hard at home and he’s a talented player and I expect him to come into camp at a high level.
- Morris on the early enrollee O-lineman: “In my opinion that is the hardest position to come in and play immediately. The key is they are getting here in the spring so they are going to take some of their lumps and loses early on in spring so we are going to throw them out there. The good news is that they are big enough...Some of the highest rated guys we have had have never played a snap here and some of the lowest rated are playing in the NFL so it’s all a crapshoot, all 0-0 right now…”
- Coach Brandon Jones mentioned that he likes to rotate eight guys the starting five and then a tackle that can play both, a guard that can play both and a back up center. “Trying to focus on those eight guys but with that being said you want to develop some of the younger guys.”
- Kingsbury on not having any WR in this class (after Boyd’s dismissal): “We will just address it next class. We feel comfortable with our numbers at wide receiver it is one of our deepest positions we have so we will take a bigger class next year and there are a lot of really good ones in the state next year.”
Coaching Staff Changes
- Kingsbury on filling the RB coach position: He said they wanted to get through national signing day but now they will focus on getting that spot filled.
- Kingsbury on OL coach Brandon Jones: “Coach Jones has been in similar systems and that is what I liked. I didn’t think we had time to reteach it to anybody. We wanted somebody that had new ideas and come relay that to our players. He wanted to come to Texas Tech and it worked out he was available and wanted to be here…”
- Coach Brandon Jones on his relationship with Kingsbury: He said they aren’t as close as people think. Kingsbury was a senior when Jones was a freshman when they played at Tech, but he said he has always admired Kingsbury and how he carries himself.
Kingsbury Day-To-Day Operations Changes
- Hocutt said shortly after the season that Kingsbury will spend more time with the defense and delegate some day-to-day offense stuff to the others on the staff. This is how that is starting to take shape as of now.
- Kingsbury on the day to day operation: “We are still working through that but just spending more time with the overall team and not as much in the offensive staff room. Not that I have an expertise on defense but being over there, spending time and just sharing thoughts I have and just delegating more to the offensive staff.”
- Gibbs said that Kingsbury has brought in a good offensive perspective to the defense and he helps them figure out what the offenses are going to do. “[It’s been helpful] to have a guy in the room that gives a different perspective and shows you what they are trying to do, trying to attack, another set of eyes.”
- Morris on Kingsbury day to day operation switch: He said him and Kingsbury are on the same page and since they have worked together since day one they trust each other to do what is best. He said that he has taken over “some scripting, signals, talking to the guys, getting the offense together on what we run and how many times we run it.”
Individual Name Drops
- Dominic Panazzolo: Kingsbury said “He’s going to be big. Obviously we struggled last year in the kicking game and the punting game and he’s a tall athletic range-y guy who his very talented at putting, directional punting. He can do it all kickoff and he can run down and cover kicks. With his Australian rules and rugby background he isn’t afraid to mix it up. He’s about 6-foot-5 and very athletic we think he can immediately help us in the punting game, which we really need.”
- Dakota Allen : Gibbs said he is glad to have him back and he wishes he had him last year.
- Nelson Mbanasor: Coach Patrick said “He matched me, he matched us and it was a perfect fit.” He added that he is a big body, strong at the point of attack, has big hands and most importantly understands the game.
- Dawson Deaton: “At first it was Jack and then Dawson but now Dawson shows up and he’s gotten bigger. He’s taller, his wingspan is bigger, he weighs the same as Jack...Excited to see him.”
- Riko Jeffers: Gibbs said he likes that he plays middle linebacker and he tackles the guy with the ball.
- Xavier Martin: Kingsbury said he’s a very very fast player. Probably one of the fastest players on the team as of today...If I can get him where I want him plus that speed he has a great future ahead of him.
- Jaylon Lane: Kingsbury said took care of his business in junior college and has a “high upside” Gibbs said he’s long, good cover guy and has a chance to be an impact player from day 1.
- Octavious Morgan: Gibbs said he wasn’t sure they could get him because he is so good but he can play “almost anywhere back there.”
- Vaughnte Dorsey: Gibbs said he is tough, physical and that he is “definitely a safety”
- Adrian Frye: Gibbs said they went to his high school to look at another guy but he said they saw him and “it wasn’t even close.” He’s a guy that can play anywhere.
- McLane Carter: Kingsbury said he is “scrappy” and reminds him of Case Keenum. It’ might not always look pretty with him being a lefty, but he moves the ball down the field.
- Desmond Nisby: Kingsbury said he is an older guy, more physical and expects him to make the difference the short yardage situations.