2011 Fall Preview: On the spot

The Texas Tech Red Raiders open fall camp on Saturday with several players
facing a now-or-never situation, either because they are entering their final
season(s) of eligibility, being pushed by younger players or both. Nothing is
set in stone, and there's still several weeks before the team's season-opener
against Texas State, but the clock is ticking.
Here are five Red Raiders that find themselves on the spot as Tech heads into
preseason practice.
RB Aaron Crawford - Unfortunately, Crawford has an
all-too-familiar story -- he has a lot of ability, but has just been plagued
with injuries over the course of his career. He got off to a great start as a
true freshman; Crawford starting the last four games of the 2007 season and
seemed poised to be a fixture in Tech's backfield for the next four years. It
didn't happen that way, though. After logging 35 carries in the second half of
2007, various injuries limited Crawford to just 27 over the next three seasons.
Crawford was granted a redshirt for the 2008 campaign, giving him one final
chance to build on the promise he displayed as a true freshman.
IR Cornelius Douglas - With the addition of freshmen
like Jakeem Grant and Javares McRoy to the roster, Douglas
suddenly has more competition at inside receiver than he did in the spring.
Obviously McRoy won't be eligible to play this season after transferring in from
Florida, but he'll be someone that Douglas will have to deal with in 2012. Grant
could post a more immediate threat, as he is one of Tech's fastest receivers and
has impressed during summer workouts. Douglas definitely has the ability
necessary to fend off these challenges, but he'll have to prove that he can be a
reliable, consistent option in order to successfully do so.
LB Sam Fehoko - Few players have been more negatively
affected by the Red Raiders' defensive coordinator carousel over the last three
years than Fehoko. The former Hawaii Gatorade Player of the Year has gone from
middle linebacker under Ruffin McNeill in 2009, to rush
linebacker/defensive end during James Willis' one-year tenure and is now back at
linebacker under Chad Glasgow. Fehoko is one of the defense's vocal
leaders and did see extensive action in 2010, playing in all 13 games and
logging seven starts, but will have a chance to cement an even more prominent
role once camp opens.
PK Bradley Hicks - Place kicker, like quarterback and
punter and so on, is one of the few positions in football where the players
involved aren't typically involved in some kind of rotation. Barring an injury
or an unforeseen performance drop, Tech will likely play just utilize one place
kicker this season. Donnie Carona is the favorite to win that job -- he
has the most experience and ended the spring listed first on the depth chart --
meaning former JUCO All-American Hicks will have an uphill battle on his hands
once the team begins the preseason.
DL Chris Perry - When Perry first arrived at Tech
after transferring from Miami (Fla.) in 2008, the expectation was that the
one-time blue chip recruit would be a key component of future Red Raider
defensive lines. Things didn't play out that way. Perry has consistently been
one of the last scholarship defensive linemen to leave the bench over the last
three seasons, mainly seeing extended action only in blowouts. With the
graduation of Colby Whitlock, the summer departure of Lawrence Rumph and
concerns about Pearlie Graves lingering leg issues, the opportunity is
there for Perry to earn a bigger role this fall.