Biggest Surprises of Fall Camp

Fall camp has wrapped up and preparations for the Red Raiders' season opener against North Dakota are underway, which has Texas Tech fans counting down the minutes until the 2009 season is officially here. So what unexpected events occurred throughout the duration of fall camp? RaiderPower.com breaks down the top five surprises.

5. LaRon Moore to Play Opposite Jamar Wall at CB

Junior LaRon Moore had an outstanding fall camp and looks to have clinched the starting cornerback spot opposite Jamar Wall. Moore's physical style of play and his ability to get to the correct position on the field have given him the edge over senior Brent Nickerson, who started for the majority of the 2008 season.

4. Steven Sheffield Named Backup Quarterback

For the duration of spring and much of the fall, junior quarterback Steven Sheffield and redshirt freshman QB Seth Doege split reps for most of fall camp in a contest to see who would be listed second on the depth chart behind Taylor Potts. Last Friday, head coach Mike Leach announced that Sheffield, a former walk-on from Pflugerville, will be listed second on the depth chart.

Sheffield, who is a good 30 pounds lighter than Doege, seemed to have the edge because of his experience in the offense and leadership abilities. Doege, who was one of Texas Tech's biggest commits in the class of 2008, may have more raw talent and throwing ability, but Leach felt that his decision making was not quite as developed as Sheffield's.

3. Emergence of Eric Stephens

When running back Eric Stephens switched his commitment from Minnesota to Texas Tech last year, it created a small buzz among Red Raider fans excited to see what the versatile Mansfield product could do in the Red Raider offense. They did not expect, however, to be able to find out so soon.

With junior Baron Batch and sophomore Aaron Crawford seeing only limited time on the field due to injuries, the door was wide open for Stephens to step up and show off his ability to bounce off of tackles and get into the end zone. Stephens has had a phenomenal fall and looks ready to play this season if he is needed. If not, he will definitely be a star for the Red Raiders in the years to come.

2. Three True Freshmen to See the Field in the Secondary

True freshmen safeties Terrance Bullitt, Will Ford, and Daniel Cobb will all most likely see the field during their first year as Red Raiders. All three were impressive during fall camp, and with the holes left by departing seniors Darcel McBath and Daniel Charbonnet, it appears that the talents of Bullitt, Ford, and Cobb will be sorely needed by the Red Raider defense.

While the talent level is definitely there for these three freshmen, the fact that all three will play significant minutes straight out of high school also speaks to the fact that the Red Raiders are thin defensive back.

1. Depth of WR Corps Improves

With the departure of All-American WR Michael Crabtree to the NFL after last season, naysayers questioned whether Texas Tech's wide receivers corps would be able to cope with the loss and put up the kind of numbers the Red Raiders have become famous for. From all indications, the depth of the WR corps will not be a problem in 2009.

Junior Detron Lewis has locked up one of the inside receiver positions and is the most likely candidate to fill the enormous hole left by Crabtree as the go-to guy for QB Taylor Potts. Lewis was the second leading receiver behind Crabtree last year and looks ready to pick up where he left off last year.

Redshirt freshman Austin Zouzalik has been very consistent throughout the fall and has sewn up a spot behind Lewis at inside receiver.

Sophomores Tramain Swindall and Adam James and redshirt freshman Cornelius Douglas are in a three way fight for the other inside receiver starting spot. While Swindall has the most game experience, James and Douglas have come on strong as of late, and on Saturday Leach had Swindall playing on the scout team. The H WR position is very much up in the air at this point and the final decision will most likely be based upon who is the most consistent as the Red Raiders gear up for their first game.

Senior Edward Britton and Redshirt freshman Alex Torres will likely be the starting outside receivers, with junior Lyle Leong, redshirt sophomore Jacoby Franks, and true freshman Eric Ward all in mix as backups. The coaches have not made a final decision as to whether or not they will pull Ward's redshirt, and his ability to continue to learn the offense as well as sophomore Rashad Hawk's performance during the final weeks of preparation will be the deciding factors.



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