Final Gator Bowl practice is in the books

Texas Tech held its final on-field workout Sunday in preparation for the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl on New Year's Day against the University of Virginia. The team will spend Monday reviewing film from the five workouts, meeting in position groups and taking in a movie before kicking off Tuesday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The team spent the abbreviated session tying up any loose ends. As it has all week, practice opened with a special teams period, and followed with position drills and a team period. Following practice selected members of the team met with CBS talent, before taking their final evening off.

Texas Tech's next event is the annual kickoff luncheon scheduled for New Year's Eve, which will be preceded by a bowl-scheduled press conference. Red Raiders Head Coach Mike Leach and student-athletes Graham Harrell, Brian Duncan and Chris Parker will represent the team at the conference.

Texas Tech will appear in the 31st bowl game in program history next week and ranks among the top 20 programs all-time in bowl appearances. This year's visit to Jacksonville is the fourth for Texas Tech, which also participated in the Gator Bowl in 1954, 1965 and 1973, with wins in 1954 and 1973.

The Red Raiders and Cavaliers kickoff at 1 p.m. on CBS from Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on New Year's Day.

Each day this week a Texas Tech player or staff member will share his thoughts on the Gator Bowl, game preparations and activities. Today, we asked three departing seniors and an up-and-coming standout to share their thoughts:

Senior Linebacker Kellen Tillman

What are your thoughts on your final workout as a Red Raider after six years and six bowl games?

"It's been a great six years. There have been some ups and downs, but it's good to finish strong and be here with the coaches and my teammates and finish out on a good note."

What is your best bowl memory?

"My first bowl ever, the Tangerine Bowl, because it was a new environment and experience for me. I had never been part of that and it was just fun to be there with the older guys and then see them go on to the NFL, like Kliff Kingsbury. It was just a great time and a great atmosphere. We had a lot of fun down there."

What advice have you had for the new guys on their first bowl experience?

"Basically, I told them to not lose track of why we are down here. The reason we are down here is to win a bowl game. Have fun, but at the same time be smart and don't do anything to jeopardize yourself or the team. I told them to just be smart about situations, and do the right thing and focus when we come to practice and enjoy themselves when we have free time."

What are you looking forward to the most in your last game?

"Just go out there one last time and make plays for the Red Raiders, whatever I can do. I just want to be around my team, the defense especially, and have a ball on the field. I just want to make plays, win a game and celebrate afterwards."

Senior Cornerback Chris Parker

What are your finals thoughts on your last workout and last time you will play a game in a Texas Tech uniform?

"It went by fast. You never want to see something like this end. I'm just going to go out there and give it everything I got because it is my last go-around."

What advice do you leave for your teammates as you play your last game?

"Never take a play off. That's the best advice you can give someone. You have all these people watching you and you can never take a play off because as soon as you take it off, there is someone else looking for your job."

What is your best memory in the five bowls games you have been to?

"Last year (Insight Bowl) when we came back. We stuck together as a team and made that great comeback."

Senior Linebacker Paul Williams

It is your last workout, what are your thoughts going into your last game?

"It is a very emotional period right now. I've been playing football for 15 years and it is coming to an end. It's kind of bittersweet. We have one last game to win. We just have to come together as a team and pull it off."

What is your favorite bowl memory of the five previous bowls you have been a part of?

"My first is the Holiday Bowl when we weren't supposed to win. It was all about California and, of course, we came out and won that game. My second, which for some odd reason sticks out in my memory, is when we came out of the Insight Bowl and fireworks were going off in the background. That has stuck in my memory since then. And of course beating Minnesota would be my third. Those are my top three favorite memories."

What advice have you given the new guys about being at their first bowl?

"The seniors and the coaches addressed that in the forefront, just to give them a heads up on what to expect and how they should prepare."

What advice would you leave for all the young guys?

"Stay close. I think this year we have been the closest as a team, as a whole. Listen, because listening is a big part of it, and teach each other. The younger guys really gained from us seniors and older guys teaching them the ropes."

Sophomore Defensive Back Jamar Wall

What are you looking to carry into this game, your first bowl game as a starter?

"I'm looking to continue what we finished with against OU (Oklahoma). We are looking to continue with that. I want to finish up strong going into the next year."

Being a sophomore, are you still looking to the older guys for advice or are you in a position to give advice to the younger guys?

"Kind of both. I'm still learning, I'm young really, and I still have space to improve and get better. The little things that I need help on I go to coach (Brian Mitchell), CP (Chris Parker) or Joe (Garcia), they know it all, too. But also I can help out the younger guys. If they have questions, then they can come ask me or the older guys."


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