Graham Harrell has improved tremendously since last Fall. His biggest area of improvement is his quickness in making reads. Prior to last season, Graham looked far too indecisive, which is why he eventually lost the starting job to Cody Hodges. This fall, Harrell proved himself to be very poised in the pocket, and he truly looks like a leader out there. Graham has also put on quite a bit of size since last season, when he was looking a bit thin for Division I-A football. Throughout the Fall, Harrell proved that he is capable of making any throw, and is still one of the most accurate quarterbacks that I have ever had the privilege of watching. Graham has every bit of what it takes to lead the Red Raiders to great things this season.
Chris Todd has pushed Graham to be the best throughout the offseason. I highly doubt that there is a more talented Freshman anywhere. Chris has an absolute cannon for an arm, and has impressive confidence for a Freshman. Todd is better than Graham was in his Freshman year, which is truly something to be proud of. It is easy to understand why Chris holds all those Kentucky state passing records. The only thing missing in his game is his quickness in going through his progressions, and that will undoubtedly come with time in the offense. Todd has an extremely bright future ahead of him as a Red Raider, and he is entirely capable of stepping in at any moment and showing the world what he can do.
Ryan Rowland is the likely third-string choice, as it seems that we have the depth to allow Taylor Potts to redshirt. Rowland has plenty of time in the system, and has proven to be a capable quarterback in every chance he has been given. Look no further than his performances in the Spring games to sew what he can do. Taylor Potts is a determined learner who throws the football like a bullet. It would only make sense that big things can be expected from this big kid. It is yet to be determined what Derek Shaw's future is with the Red Raiders, but he would have to sit out this next season due to transfer rules.
Todd Walker has had the opportunity to step up in the practices while Jarrett Hicks took some days off, and Walker made the most of them. Todd used his improved hands and physicality in addition to his speed to become a dangerous receiver in the offseason. Todd Walker is the future of the Red Raiders at the X position.
- Chris Cunigan is still very young, but shows huge promise as his hands have improved significantly throughout the offseason. Chris has improved his route-running as well under the tutelage of Jarrett Hicks. Cunigan has both the physical tools and talent to become a great receiver in the future.
Danny Amendola never drops anything, and Amendola is finally back to 100% health. The difference is noticeable, as I had forgotten how fast Danny was until I was able to watch him at full speed. This is something that had not been seen since 2004, when Danny had his huge Freshman year. Expect big things from Danny this season.
- Eric Morris is almost an Amendola clone. Eric has the same quick feet, elusiveness, and reliable hands that Danny has, and should he need to come in for Amendola, there will be little to no dropoff in play. Morris is one of the players who plays with all heart, who is really deserving of his chance.
H Tight End
L.A. Reed is a true talent. Reed is pure muscle and physicality, and has hands and speed on top of that. After having an impressive offseason, he unfortunately suffered an injury during Fall practice. If L.A. can be healthy for the season, he could be in for a huge year in which he surprises a ton of people.
Robert Johnson has a rare combination of size, speed, and agility. Next to Amendola, Johnson has the best hands on the team as well. Robert is a flat-out gamebreaker, with his fantastic jukes and yards after catch. Oh, and he can throw the ball, too. Robert brings multiple threats to the offense, and is an invaluable member of the Red Raiders.
Grant Walker has been the surprise of the offseason, as he manages to almost always shake his man. Grant is by far the best player at working back to the quarterbacks when they get into trouble. Grant has shown off his hands throughout the fall as well, and has moved up the depth chart along the way.
Y Tight End
Adrian Reese has been one of the more impressive Freshman. Reese is huge at 6'6," with good hands and blocking skills as well. At this point, the only real knock on Reese is that he is a bit thin, but even this is exacerbated by his tall build. Adrian will be a contributor in the future; count on it.
Joel Filani has a real chance to challenge Hicks as our best receiver this season. Filani's hands have gotten infinitely better since he was struggling with his catching a few years ago. These days, seeing him drop something is a rarity, and he is as fast and physical as ever. Joel has won me over completely, and is poised for a huge year.
Michael Crabtree has come in and been phenomenal as a true Freshman. He has been so good that he may have jumped Edward Britton on the depth chart with his abilities. Crabtree has the size, hands, and physicality to be an immediate contributor in Texas Tech's fantastic receiving corps.
Edward Britton was looking down-and-out until he got his chance with Filani's hamstring injury. Britton seriously stepped up his game in Filani's absence, and may have re-taken Crabtree on the depth chart with his effort. The second-string Z receiver will be decided in the coming weeks.
Glenn January is the likely starter here. January has improved substantially over the offseason, and has become a very capable offensive lineman. Assuming that he can maintain the intensity that he has shown throughout the offseason, he will be a valuable member of the line for this season.
Chris Olson and Marlon Winn will likely back up January at LT with the emergence of Louis Vasquez as a starter at LG. Olson has had a good offseason despite playing through injury. He will likely split reps in backup duty with Marlon Winn, but Vasquez might take over the starting job at LT if Glenn were to go down with an injury. Confusing, I know.
Louis Vasquez should be the starter here given his experience. Vasquez seems to work the best with Glenn January, as they were a dominant team in protecting the left side of the line. Louis seems to be a difference maker on the line, which is why I believe that he deserves to start.
Ofa Mohetau has certainly been impressive on the line, but simply isn't familiar enough with our offensive line to have earned the starting job. He may very well get significant playing time this year, but he won't be the starter. Still, Ofa adds depth to the unit, and is an important member of the line.
Brandon Jones has done well in a starting role throughout the offseason, but suffered a recent injury that may or may not sideline him for the early season. Jones has gotten much better with his snaps, which is very encouraging. Hopefully he can get healthy quickly and keep his position as the starter.
Josh Aleman has stepped up well in his absence, as has Shawn Byrnes. Aleman is undoubtedly the best snapper on the team, and Shawn Byrnes has shown impressive blocking ability. Manny Ramirez also showed that he was capable of playing center if necessary, in the scenario that several injuries cripple the line.
Manuel Ramirez is your starter here, without a doubt. Manny is a huge part of the offensive line, and is considered by many to be one of the top offensive lineman in the country. It is perfectly reasonable to expect another huge season from Ramirez.
Brandon Carter is perhaps the most improved player of the offseason. He has gotten better in nearly all aspects of his game, and has earned the spot behind Manny. Stephen Hamby has also had a remarkable Fall, so don't be surprised if he gets some playing time as well.
Gabe Hall is the starter here, and it is easy to tell why. Hall did suffer an injury recently, but is now healthy. Assuming Gabe does not reaggravate this injury, all signs point to Hall having a huge Senior year by providing solid protection for Graham Harrell.
Rylan Reed is Gabe's likely backup at Right Tackle. Reed, a converted TE, is finally becoming the offensive lineman that everyone thought he could be. Reed has begun to play with the passion that separates a good lineman from a great one. Also, Chris Olson is getting PT here as well; illustrating his versatility.
Best Overall Unit:
Best Performance: (tie)
Best Newcomer: (tie)