A New Set of "AFROS"

In 2003, Texas Tech receiver <b>Carlos Francis</b> nicknamed his fellow cohorts the "AFROS," which stood for "America's Finest Receivers on Saturday." This group of men compiled a total of 6179 yards in just 13 games last season which averages out to just over 475 yards a game.

Interestingly enough, three of those receivers, Wes Welker, Carlos Francis, and Nehemiah Glover all surpassed the 1000 yard milestone, while Mickey Peters was just 25 yards short of the millennium mark.

Many NCAA teams struggle to find just one receiver with numbers like that, much less 4.

Unfortunately for the Red Raiders, graduation beckoned and three of these four receivers moved on to bigger and better things in 2004. This forced receivers Coach Sonny Dykes to find an almost completely new set of "AFROS."

"(Mickey, Wes, and Carlos) had been starting a long time and so as a result of that they had a lot of leadership," said Dykes. "They did a great job of taking control and knowing what to do and when to do it and having the ability to make a play in a key situation."

Two of the three are now making a name for themselves in the National Football League.

Welker started off as a free agent and is now starting for the Miami Dolphins as a punt and kickoff returner (and sometimes a kicker) while Francis was drafted relatively early and is playing receiver for the Oakland Raiders.

In Mike Leach's spread offense a set of 3 or 4 very reliable receivers is vital for success so with the loss of three key guys last year, new talent has been forced to emerge in the names of Haverty, Fuller, Hicks, and Olomua.

Each of these players saw plenty of playing time last year, but it was not until this year that they were the rule and not the exception.

Currently Jarrett Hicks ranks fourth nationally in receiving yards with over 900 in his first 8 games. According to Dykes, he has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the 2004 season.

"Jarrett is probably more consistent than I thought he might be," said Dykes. "From the standpoint of it being his first season as a full-time starter you usually battle some inconsistencies with those guys. He has done a great job of playing hard and making good decisions game in and game out."

After the game last week against Kansas State, Head Coach Mike Leach realized the Red Raiders could have gotten the ball to Hicks more often.

"Defenses are paying attention to Hicks," said Leach. We should have done a better job of getting the ball to him, miscellaneous things happened. Protection broke down one time, twice actually, and the other thing is I should have selected better plays at times to get the ball to Hicks. We were getting several to Haverty and several to Glover. That's the biggest thing, to get distribution to all of your positions. I think we've done a pretty good job of that this year."

After waiting in the wings for three years Senior Trey Haverty has also stepped into his role quite nicely. This season he already has 634 yards including a nice 98 yard game on Saturday in Manhattan. Haverty has become one of Senior Quarterback Sonny Cumbie's favorite and most consistent targets.

"Every one of our receivers has the capability of having a big night when they step on to the field," said Cumbie. "Trey's big night was Saturday."

To Tech fans, maybe the biggest surprise of the year has been the addition of a big bruising tight end in Bristol Olomua. After sitting out a few years because of transfer rule, Olumua's presence was made known from the very first game against SMU.

"We've always wanted a big tight end, like a guy who can play down in a three point stance," said Dykes. "Bristol is very versatile and very athletic so he gives us more options in how we can use him."

So far this season Olomua is the second leading scoring receiver on the team with 5 touchdowns to his credit.

For the spread offense to work, these receivers must not only learn to catch the ball, but maybe more importantly, learn to become excellent down field blockers. According to Dykes, this is what makes these guys special.

"You won't play around here if you won't block, and that's the number one thing that guys see," said Dykes. "People get the perception that we just try to catch the ball all the time and the thing with us is that we have to block and we have to play physical. That's one thing that Wes, Mickey, and Carlos took a lot of pride in and I think it's filtered down to the young guys.

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