Whether it will be Shough or Colombi taking the snaps, there will be plenty of talented (and tall) options to throw to.
The Texas Tech wide receiver corps is led by an All-Big 12 performer in Erik Ezukanma. And while the X-receiver position is solidified by Ezukanm’s presence, this group (which is returning around 70% of its receiving yard production from the 2020 season) is anchored in the depth at the slot receiver position. Coach Matt Wells will have to turn to unproven Sophomores and Freshman to fill the starting Z-receiver position. Guns Up Nation takes a look at each of the players who look to help bring a modern Air Raid to the field in 2021 under new Offensive Coordinator Sonny Cumbie.
Tech fans can only hope Ezukanma’s recovery ability is as strong as his receiving ability. In the final week of spring practice, Ezukanma broke his right arm in 2 places. Coach Wells has gone on the record saying he will be re-evaluated two times before fall camp opens up to asses his recovery. Ezukanma was the first Red Raider to lead the team in receiving yards in consecutive seasons since Jakeem Grant in 2014-15. His outstanding 2020 season landed him on the All-Big 12 first team and the first Red Raider to do so since Michael Crabtree in 2008. He accomplished all of this during the worst passing season for a Texas Tech team in the last 20 seasons. He is a safe bet to open on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List which will be announced later this summer. Assuming good health, Ezukanma will look to break onto the All-American team for the 2021 season.
Bradley is one of the receivers who filled in for Ezukanma at the spring game. The 6’5” freshman out of Desoto, TX already has the frame of a starting wide receiver in the Big 12. And while he opened the spring game with a fumble, he did bounce back with a touchdown reception. There is a lot of buzz around this true freshman and his ceiling in the program.
Fouonji has drawn high praise from Sonny Cumbie. Another receiver with great height (listed at 6’4”), this 4-star recruit from the 2020 class did not see much action last season as he only secured five receptions. Red Raider fans are hoping he can start producing at the level he was projected to coming out of high school.
Cleveland found appearances in all 10 games in the 2020 season, but just as Fouonji, didn’t have much production as he only had eight receptions on the season. Trey will be in competition with Fouonji for time at the Z-receiver position.
This multi-sport athlete was unable to get on the field last season due to shoulder surgery. His size (6’4”/215) combined with his athletic ability provides another big athlete to bolster this wide receiver group.
One of 10 “Super Seniors” on this team (most in the Big 12), Mannix is looking to deliver in a big way after being limited to only three games last year due to injuries. Mannix is one of 16 scholarship transfers that will play multiple season under Coach Wells. The transfer from Nevada came in with plenty of buzz as a perfect fit for a slot receiver in Tech’s offense. With a clean bill of health, Mannix should be very productive in 2021.
Price made waves in his true freshman campaign last season. Appearing in nine games, including three starts in 2020, he ranked 4th on the team in all-purpose yards and 2nd in receiving yards. Expect Price to continue to find different ways to touch the football both on offense and on special teams.
This former track and field state champion was on his way to elevating his game after an impressive 2019 season. However, much like many of the receivers, injuries limited his time on the field in 2020 as he appeared in only seven of the ten games. That said, his 12 career starts ranks 5th among the offensive players returning for the upcoming season. Rigdon rounds out a group of slot receivers with Mannix and Price that will be critical to the success of the offense this season.
Tech does have an impressive group of receivers. But, if the QB’s are forced to again run for their lives every down, they may not be able to hit many receivers, open or not.
Tech actually did a really nice job of protecting whoever was taking the snaps. According to TruMedia, with 444 drop backs, Tech allowed a Big 12 low 18% pressure rate and only gave up 16 total sacks. The o-line is also returning 4 of 5 starters and got an all Big-12 OL transferring in from TCU.