Photo CC: si.com
The head of the Air Force is now led by a Red Raider Alumni from the class of ‘84. I can assure the Red Raider nation that General Brown, a man who oversees air assets on a daily basis, would be the first to identify that the aerial attack in Lubbock is stacked with formidable weapons. This crew isn’t just talented, it brings a depth of experience.
This program has a well-established history of elite wide receiver talent. A debate over who truly is “Wide Receiver U” will have to wait for another day. In an interview earlier this year with The Athletic, Head Coach Matt Wells (when asked about his Wide Receivers and recent recruiting class) was quoted as saying, “I think we’re starting to get closer to what Texas Tech is known for, having those great wideouts, and I think this recruiting class helped put us in that direction,” The competition for playing time should also be fierce as there are a number of talented guys fighting it out for those 4th and 5th spots in Tech’s 5 wide sets. What we know for the 2020 season is that Alan Bowman will be in a position to run the offense as designed, without having to force passes to just 1-2 options out wide.
Projected Depth Chart (As of August 12th)
1st. T.J. Vasher (SR)
2nd. Erik Ezukanma (RS SO)
Outside Receiver Depth: Caden Leggett (RS SO), Trey Cleveland (RS FR), Cameron Cantrell (RS FR), Ja’Lynn Polk (FR), Loic Fouonji (FR), and JJ Sparkman (FR)
1st. Dalton Rigdon (RS JR)
2nd. KeSean Carter (JR)
3rd. McLane Mannix (SR)
Inside Receiver Depth: Seth Collins (SR), Sterling Galban (RS SO), Myles Price (FR)
T.J. Vasher (SR)
Hear me when I say this; the impact plays Vasher is capable of making are Crabtree-esque. While their respective games are different, and by no means are projecting a similar NFL career for Vasher, his impact on this offense (at his peak) can rival that same impact felt in Lubbock by #5 2007 and 2008. The 6’6’’ senior is going to be one of the offensive leaders this season and will have a massive impact on just how high this offense can fly. However, his slightly surprising decision to return to school instead of declaring for the 2019 NFL draft showed that he hadn’t displayed enough consistency in the minds of NFL scouts to earn a high draft grade in a loaded year for wide receivers. Even missing 2 games last year, he led the team with 6 touchdown receptions but had only 1 100-yard receiving game. By comparison, Crabtree had 4 100-yard games in 2008 and 11 in 2007. Vasher is in a prime position to make that jump into discussions for one of the top wide receivers not just in the Big 12, but in the country. His consistency, something he is in complete control over, is ultimately going to decide if he makes that leap or not.
Erik Ezukanma (RS SO)
Speaking of Crabtree comparisons, another big body receiver (listed at 6’3”) broke out in his freshman campaign as Ezukanma became the first Red Raider since Crabtree in ‘07 to lead the team in receiving yards as a freshman. He arrived on campus as a consensus 4-star recruit and is living up to his ranking. With his continued development, a combination of him and Vasher occupying opposite sides of the field is really going to force defenses to put defensive backs on an island. Ezukanam’s ability to exploit these one-on-one matchups could help elevate this offense back to those 35-40 points per game averages many Tech fans are accustomed to.
Dalton Rigdon (RS JR)
Rigdon was Tech’s primary starter at the inside ‘H’ position. He would go on to finish the year with 34 catches for 486 yards and 5 touchdowns. Those numbers ended up leading the inside receiver group. At the end of the season, he developed some big-play potential as he had 6 catches of 25 yards or longer in his final 3 games. It will be interesting to see what he can do with the same quarterback for all 10 games.
KeSean Carter (JR)
Carter made appearances in all 12 games, with only one start. It is worth noting he set the high receiving yard mark for single-game performances last season as he caught 11 passes for 150 yards against the Texas Longhorns. A weapon also in the return game, he is the 4th wide receiver who has demonstrated the ability to explode on any given Saturday. Even if he is the 4th option on many plays, he’s proven to be a solid receiver and can only get better.
McLane Mannix (SR)
The Red Raiders have another senior receiver with loads of experience. Mannix has been a starter from his first days in college at Nevada. In his first season in a Red Raider uniform, he was an instant contributor. It is fair to say that for a player that was recognized as a Freshman All-American at Nevada, the impact that was expected from him was much larger than just 2 starts in 12 games. Will an offseason under the same offense, and consistent quarterback play, elevate him back to the types of numbers he was putting up at Nevada? Coach Yoast and the rest of the offense can only hope so.
Seth Collins (SR)
Collins missed the entire 2019 season with a collarbone injury but was granted a 6th year of eligibility by the NCAA. The transfer from Oregon State did appear in all 12 games and made 2 starts in 2018. He will certainly be right in the thick of the competition for snaps this season and also provides critical depth for the receiving corps.
Sterling Galban (RS SO)
Galban hasn’t been able to get on the field yet as he missed the entire season in both 2018 and 2019 with injuries. Coming out of high school, he was a 3-star recruit that was ranked as the No. 180 player in the state of Texas and the No. 27 wide receiver by 247Sports. Known for his blazing speed, it would be great to see what this young man can do with the football in his hands with just a little bit of space to work.
Caden Leggett (RS SO)
Leggett saw action in 11 of 12 games last year. In those 11 games, much of his contribution came on special teams but did serve as a reserve receiver as well. He still is looking to break through the depth chart for more snaps at the receiver.
Cameron Cantrell (RS FR)
Cantrell had to redshirt last year due to injuries. To date, he is best known for being the younger brother of another great Texas Tech Wide Receiver, Dylan (who played from 2013-14, 2016-17). Both of them also share ties with Patrick Mahomes as they are all products from Whitehouse High School.
Trey Cleveland (RS FR)
The Arlington High school product did see action on special teams in 4 games last year before getting redshirted.
Myles Price (FR)
A 3-star prospect in the 2020 signing class, Price chose Tech over the likes of Arizona State, Boise State, Ole Miss, Utah, and Washington State just to name a few. He, like many of the players from the 2020 class, has had limited time on campus and in practices to demonstrate what they are capable of.
Ja’Lynn Polk (FR)
Polk, another member of the 2020 recruiting class, is a 4-star recruit and was selected to 3rd team All-State honors out of Lufkin High school in Lufkin, TX. His high school career finished with him ranking 2nd all-time in receptions and receiving yards. The guys who hold the top spots? Dez Bryant in receptions and Keke Coutee in receiving yards.
Loic Fouonji (FR)
Fouonji, another 4-star recruit from the 2020 recruiting class, was ranked as the No. 18 wide receiver in the country by 247Sports and No. 120 among its best players nationally at any position.
JJ Sparkman (FR)
The last receiver added in the 2020 class, Sparkman arrives in Lubbock out of Pine Tree High School from Longview, TX. The multi-sport athlete chose Texas Tech over programs such as Arkansas, Missouri, and Iowa State.