August 23, 2011

Tech's freshmen will contribute

The first sign a program is on the upswing is when recruiting improves.

Hands down, head coach Tommy Tuberville and crew have brought in a strong recruiting class and several of the signees will play immediately. Tuesday alone, the head coach called out receiver Bradley Marquez and defensive end Kindred Evans while linebacker Blake Dees was made available to the media to talk about holding down the starting 'Sam' spot.

"Bradley Marquez is making a name for himself out here," Tuberville said unsolicited in his opening statement. "Running with the first team a little bit. I'm really excited about him."

The former Odessa (Texas) High School running back turned inside receiver and then to outside receiver has had a great fall camp. He might be the best route adjuster on the roster at 18 years old.

It's Marquez speed that makes him truly lethal though. He's not having much trouble getting around defensive players. If a screen is thrown up in front of Marquez it's going to be trouble for the opposition.

Thus, Marquez is will play and he's far from the only true freshman that will.

Although running back Ronnie Daniels has had a quiet two-a-days, the coaching staff still believes he'll be a big contributor in the running game.

The freshman running back arrived on campus with a college-ready frame and college-ready strength and he will benefit by not having to start out as the featured back immediately. Daniels is partnered up with junior feature back Eric Stephens and power back Aaron Crawford so he has some time to get his feet wet before being getting a bulk of the carries.

But the biggest surprise in terms of earning a starting position out of the gate is Dees, a largely unknown recruit out of Spanish Fort, Ala.

Coming to the only BCS school that offered probably was a no brainer for Dees but a lot of those BCS schools should be on the brink of scratching their heads as to how they let him go uncontested to Tech.

He's going into Wednesday's scrimmage as the strong side linebacker.

"We're growing as a defense," Dees said. "I'm learning the playbook a lot more, the whole defense is and we're doing so much better. There's way more intensity and everything than ever. We all know what we're doing and learning the calls and now just playing with a lot more confidence."

Freshman linebacker Sam Eguavoen also is standing out at linebacker and he only played organized football for two varsity seasons before signing on with the Red Raiders this past February.

The list continues beyond that.

Safety Pete Robertson has moved up to the second string defense, tight end and inside receiver Jace Amaro will play behind Alex Torres and Adam James as it stands about two weeks from opening kickoff.

Either DeAndre Washington or Kenny Williams, but not both, will see the field with snaps at the running back position this season while receiver Jakeem Grant could play a big role on special teams as a freshman.

Additionally, Rivals100 defensive tackle Delvon Simmons will be in the two-deep if his eligibility issue is resolved. Tuberville is optimistic that Simmons will play this season.

"Still waiting," Tuberville said. "It's going through the NCAA waiver committee or whatever that's called. We'll have to see what happens there. It looks good, I don't understand the whole business with it but we have to go by protocol."

If Simmons eligibility is cleared, at least eight true freshmen can contribute to the Red Raiders out of the gate but even guys like Evans who are somewhere between redshirting and playing are making tough arguments for playing time.

"I really wanted to see how I'd adapt to it, next level speed and whatever," Evans said. "I think I'm adapting well to it. It feels pretty good. I know a lot of people don't get recognition like that so I'm happy for it and I'm just going to keep working hard."

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