Same Places, New Faces- Wide Receivers

With the Red Raiders gearing up for spring practice, Texas Tech fans are anxiously waiting to see which players will emerge as the stars of the 2009 squad.'s football analyst Mitchell Fish analyzes the wide receivers position and gives his projections of who will be the difference makers next season.

Z Wide-Receiver Position

Projected Starter: Lyle Leong

Back-up: Rashad Hawk

Wildcard: Sam Ward

With Michael Crabtree's decision to declare for the NFL Draft, Texas Tech fans are left to wonder "what now" at the receiver position opposite of Edward Britton.

Lyle Leong has shown flashes of incredible athleticism, including tremendous high-jump ability, surprising durability, and better than expected speed. However, Long lacks the weight to take a seasons worth of pounding.

Rashad Hawk is the type of player that fans don't know, but they very well may by the time the 2009 season starts.

Hawk has great size and truly has sprinter speed, though he will need to gain additional weight to help fill out his 6 foot 4 inch frame. Hawk also has Carlos Francis syndrome, meaning that he lets the ball get into his pads and has trouble catching it with his hands.

Sam Ward, the mid-term freshman, is the definition of a wildcard. Ward is a highly touted freshman receiver who had offers from around the country, but picked Tech. With an entire Spring, he might have the opportunity to push for serious playing time should Hawk or Leong not secure the starting position.

Y Inside-Receiver Position

Projected Starter: Tramain Swindall

Back-Up: Austin Zouzalik

Tramain Swindall is another of the receivers that were part of a stellar 2007 signing class. As the primary back-up to Detron Lewis, Swindall showed tremendous ability throughout the 2008 season.

Swindall will have to work on catching the ball with his hands and ball security once he has caught it, but he is another in a long line of tall and lanky Y receivers.

Austin Zouzalik was a late addition to the class of 2008, but with time to add weight and learn the role of a receiver, he could be an intriguing option at the inside receiving position.

While not as tall as the typical Y, he is a shifty and talented player that could be a match-up nightmare for linebackers. He is also a converted quarterback, something that Mike Leach and the rest of the Texas Tech coaching staff have had great success with.

H Inside-Receiver Position

Projected Starter: Detron Lewis

Back-up: Adam James

Wildcard: Cornelius Douglas

Detron Lewis was very effective when playing at the Y inside receiver position and will most-likely see a shift to the H side of the field with the maturation of Tramain Swindall.

Lewis has Crabtree-like moves in the open field and when lined up against linebackers at H he should be that much more dangerous.

Adam James is the type of player that doesn't really fit into a certain position well, but he is such a talented receiver that you have to find a place for him. James is similar to former Red Raider Mickey Peters but bigger, and with his good body control and great hands, will be a force to be reckoned with in the coming year.

Perhaps one of the most under-appreciated plays of the '08 season was when James broke off a route and sat down in a zone against Baylor, allowing Graham Harrell to fire the ball out and get Tech out of the shadow of their own goal posts.

James could also see time as a hand-down tight-end, possibly even motioning into that position from somewhere else onto the field.

Cornelius Douglas is a more traditional H receiver, as far as size and skill-set are concerned. An athlete coming out of high school, Douglas has Nehemiah Glover type moves in the open field and the speed that Glover could only wish for. While a younger player, Mike Leach has shown less reluctance to put younger players into important situations in the last few seasons.

X Wide-Receiver Position

Projected Starter: Edward Britton

Back-up: Jacoby Franks

Ed Britton has shown that when he catches the ball, he is as fast as anyone in the open field. Britton had a huge game against the University of Texas and was one of the few Tech players to play well in the Cotton Bowl.

Britton will seems to always struggle with his hands, but the athleticism and tenacity that he brings make him a valuable member of the receiving corp. Plus, how many other receivers in the Big XII seem to enjoy de-cleating defensive players as catching the football?

Jacoby Franks was in the rotation behind Michael Crabtree during the 2008 season, but didn't have a great chance to showcase his skills behind the All-American.

Franks is a good, albeit undersized, receiver and a strong blocker. Franks is particularly good on the bubble-screen that the Air Raid Offense flourishes with.

Final Analysis

This group of receivers will be more like what Tech has fielded in the past. Instead of possessing one player that has 100+ catches during a season, it will be more likely that each of the 4 positions will have 60 to 80 catches sprinkled between them with the running backs throwing in another 40 to 50.

Perhaps the player that could make the biggest impact during the 2009 season as a receiver is Rashad Hawk. If Hawk can get his hands worked out and put on 15 or 20 pounds, he should another in a long line of very talented Z Wide-Receivers.

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