Five impact freshmen for Texas Tech Football: Offense
With the start of fall camp just two weeks away, Texas Tech is gearing up for it's first season under head coach Matt Wells.
The Red Raiders return plenty of talented players on both sides of the ball that the casual fan has heard of, Alan Bowman, T.J. Vasher, Jordyn Brooks and Adrian Frye for example.
However, this season will also allow for some younger players, freshman in particular, to step up and shine just the way Bowman and Frye did in 2018. Who are some guys to keep an eye out for? Ben Golan takes a look at five freshmen, true freshmen and redshirt freshmen, on the offensive side of the ball, who could make a big impact in 2019.
This list is in no order...
The recruit: Thompson was an underrated recruit, ranking as a 5.4 Rivals 2-star with 12 total offers from programs across the country. Texas Tech was his only Power 5 offer but Thompson also picked up offers from in-state programs such as Sam Houston St., SMU, SFA and UTEP.
The path to playing time: Thompson is one of two returning scholarship backs, the other being fellow 2018 signee Ta'Zhawn Henry. Tech also brought in Utah grad transfer Armand Shyne and signed Alante Brown in 2019 to bolster the backfield. Thompson played well as a true freshman, playing in the maximum four games allowed before redshirting. He ran for 105 yards and three touchdowns on only 25 carries.
Projected role: One of the four backs in the mix. New offensive coordinator David Yost wants to run the ball more, and Tech will rotate all four guys to keep them fresh. At 6-foot, 205 pounds, Thompson brings good size to the backfield and should be heavily involved in the offense.
The recruit: Brown, a long time Michigan State commit, opened things up before signing day where he was a big land for Matt Wells and company in their first signing class. Brown held 23 total offers including Power 5 offers from Florida State, Iowa State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Missouri and Pittsburgh among others.
The path to playing time: Brown will look to come in as a true freshman and showcase his versatility, playing running back and sometimes lining up in the slot. He will be behind three more experienced players in Armand Shyne, Ta'Zhawn Henry and SaRodorick Thompson, but his speed is a game changer and that should allow him to see the field early.
Projected role: Rotation running back who comes in as a big play hitter.
The recruit: Ezukanma was a 4-star recruit in the class of 2018, picking Texas Tech over offers such as Arkansas, Ole Miss, Missouri, TCU, Texas A&M, Utah, Washington State, Wisconsin and others.
The path to playing time: Ezukanma really showed out during spring ball and looks to make a name for himself this season. There is some veteran depth ahead of him, T.J. Vasher and RJ Turner to name a couple, but Ezukanma's talent is undeniable and it wouldn't surprise anyone if he ended up as a starter in 2019. He caught two passes in 2018 for 48 yards and a touchdown in limited action, while still keeping his redshirt.
Projected role: One of the top receivers on the team, Ezukanma should be squarely in the mix to start if not play significant snaps as a redshirt freshman in 2019.
The recruit: Leggett was a very solid 5.6 3-star recruit who held offers from ACU, Army, Central Arkansas, SFA and Texas State. Despite those offers, Leggett decided to take a preferred walk-on with Texas Tech.
The path to playing time: Leggett surprised many last season, drawing rave reviews as a true freshman in practice and showing he was a steal as a PWO. He caught one pass for 12 yards in limited action and kept his redshirt. He will look to beat out Vasher, Turner and Ezukanma for playing time on the outside.
Projected role: Leggett probably starts out as a reserve wideout, but Tech will rotate receivers and he should see the field plenty this fall.
The recruit: Gonzalez was a big land for Tech, as he held 22 offers from programs around the country. Some of his other top offers included Arizona, Arizona State and Virginia Tech.
The path to playing time: Tech currently has six (6) tight ends on the roster, and they like all of them. Donta Thompson is a returning veteran, while Connor Killian and Tyler Carr are more blocking tight ends. JUCO signee Travis Koontz is in the mix as well as redshirt freshman Mason McHorse. Saying that, everyone will get their chance, and Gonzalez brings a rare ability as a receiver. The coaches will not be afraid to utilize the true freshman if he can help the team on the field.
Projected role: Reserve tight end initially, but if he shows the ability he has as a receiver could move quickly up the depth chart and see snaps.