Loss of life, taxes and vast receivers. We have come to know these three issues as absolutes in Raiderland for the previous twenty-plus years. However because the 2022 Texas Tech soccer season begins, we might not be so certain concerning the latter of the trio. In truth, by no means earlier than in this system’s Air Raid period has Tech ventured right into a season with as little manufacturing on the exterior receiver web site as it’s going to this fall.
This yr, new head coach Joey McGuire and his well-respected offensive coordinator Zach Kittley will rely closely on a gaggle of outdoor receivers who’ve but to show themselves able to even common collegiate-level contributions. Might that show to be a stumbling block to the offence?
Proper now, probably the most trusted of the Pink Raider exterior receivers is Loic Fouonji, the third-year participant from Midland. He at the moment has a meager 237 yards and 13 receptions beneath his belt whereas solely discovering the tip zone twice as a school scholar. And that is even if he was a 4-star signee within the class of 2020. Final season he noticed motion in ten video games with eight passes for 167 yards and one TD. That made him simply the sixth-best receiver on the 2021 crew when it comes to yards.
One other participant whose function will enhance this season is Trey Cleveland. The junior has but to appreciate his potential as a Pink Raider with simply 19 profession passes for 222 yards and two TDs. In fact, at 6-foot-4 and 195 kilos, the Arlington, Texas native has all of the bodily instruments to be a weapon within the passing sport. However now he is being pushed to lastly have a breakthrough season and be a key member of the Two Deep rotation.
Maybe the one vast receiver that followers and media alike appear to hype probably the most is sophomore Jerand Bradley of DeSoto, Texas. A 4-star signee within the class of 2021, he is already 6ft 5 and 220 kilos, making him maybe probably the most bodily imposing receiver on Tech’s checklist.
A real freshman final fall, he registered 5 receptions for 99 yards. However he ended the season by making a splash within the Liberty Bowl win over Mississippi State by catching two balls for 64 yards, together with a pleasant 52-yard catch and run to discipline a Pink Raider TD.
Whereas Bradley appears the almost definitely of the younger Pink Raiders to interrupt out this season, the query nonetheless stays whether or not he can go from a 99-yard receiver to a beginning caliber Huge 12 passcatcher in an offseason. Nonetheless, it appears like he’ll be a key gear for tech sooner or later. However whether or not or not that occurs this yr is likely one of the key questions but to be answered.
Sophomore JJ Sparkman can be a tall vast receiver at 6ft 4 and 225 kilos. However thus far, he is managed to concede simply seven passes for 86 yards and two targets in his two seasons on campus (though he did not play in 2020 as an damage price him his complete true freshman marketing campaign).
All in all, that is probably the most unproven group of outdoor receivers Tech has carried right into a season because the begin of the Mike Leach period in 2000, when the ahead go turned this program’s major technique of transferring the ball.
In truth, even in Leach’s first season, he had extra expertise to work with as an outdoor receiver than McGuire and Kittley had of their first season collectively on the South Plains. When Leach arrived, Derek Dorris was beginning his senior season with 56 catches for 826 yards and 4 profession touchdowns.
Leach additionally had one other senior, Tim Baker, who had 34 catches and 510 yards within the 2000 season together with three TDs. Whereas these numbers are modest by trendy school soccer requirements, particularly over the course of three years, they might make Baker simply probably the most prolific receiver on the 2022 roster.
Since then, Tech has solely as soon as entered the season with fewer profession yards from its main returning exterior receiver. That yr was 2007 when Ed Britton entered the yr with 122 profession yards as a sophomore.
That mentioned, an enormous asterisk must be put subsequent to this season, as redshirt freshman Michael Crabtree was set to make his fall debut after setting fireplace to Pink Raider’s first-team protection all yr in 2006 when he misplaced his Highschool suspended transcript. As such, Tech was pretty sure they’d a minimum of one weapon they may depend on to the surface world as they headed into one of many extra vital seasons of the Leach tenure.
Moreover, this season Tech additionally had inside receiver Danny Amendola, who entered the season as a senior who had already amassed 1,001 profession yards. Tech’s main inside receiver possibility this yr is Myles Worth, who has 823 yards and three profession TDs.
So it is value questioning if this yr’s horde of outdoor receivers are prepared to assist the Pink Raiders compete within the Huge 12. The excellent news is that there are many bodily gifted gamers ready within the wings, however as of now, none of them have demonstrated their capability to be a first-rate goal within the passing sport. And maybe the entire success of the approaching season is determined by this group of inexperienced gamers discovering a approach to enhance.