Rewind: Texas Tech's 2006 class
Texas Tech's 2006 signing class was a breakthrough group in many ways for Mike Leach's program. On paper, it was the highest-ranked class that he signed during his 10 seasons on the South Plains thanks to three Rivals250 signees and touted junior college transfer Ofa Mohetau. Even more importantly, this group outplayed its ranking; it formed the backbone of teams that won 29 games from 2007-09.
"I think our coaches did a great job as far as recruiting this year," Leach said during his annual signing day press conference. "This is the best class we've had since I've been here. We're really proud of all these guys and proud to have them all on board and proud to have them as Red Raiders."
While head coaches at practically every major college football program routinely claim that their latest recruiting class is the best of their tenure, Leach's comments in 2006 were spot-on. Rivals.com ranked Tech's haul No. 25 in the country and No. 4 in the Big 12 and listed 11 of the Red Raiders' 28 in-state signees in its Texas Top 100 -- the program's best finish in each category during Leach's tenure.
This class was not without its flaws, though. Texas Tech signed a staggering 34 prospects in 2006. That number not only led the country that year, but has since only been topped twice by Power Five programs, first by Oregon State (35) in 2007 and then Ole Miss (37) in 2009. With such a large signing class, a certain amount of attrition was expected; six signees never made it to campus because of grades or, in the case of Trevor Reilly, an LDS mission.
For all the success that this class saw as Red Raiders, it had nearly as many high-profile flameouts and busts as home runs. Daniel Johnson was a member of the Rivals100 for most of the 2006 recruiting cycle and was expected to contribute right away to a Red Raider team that graduated both of its starting safeties, same with fellow four-star Leonard Hewitt. Neither ever made it to campus. Mohetau was also thought to be an immediate impact signee due to Texas Tech's lack of depth up front, but he never developed into more than a reserve.
Ultimately, what makes the Red Raiders' 2006 class far and away Leach's best on the South Plains was the signing of a prospect that was a relative late-bloomer: Michael Crabtree.
"We're looking at him as a wide receiver where, with the ball in his hands and letting him run with it, I think he's an incredible threat," Leach said on signing day. "Anytime he's gotten the ball in his hands he's really good."
How prophetic those words turned out to be.
BIGGEST BUST: Ofa Mohetau. Mohetau wasn't necessarily the highest-ranked bust of this class - that honor could go to Leonard Hewitt or Daniel Johnson - but he was definitely the biggest tease of the group. Unlike Hewitt and Johnson, Mohetau actually made it to campus and showed up looking like a physical monster. He wasn't in the best shape, but Mohetau definitely looked like someone that could help a Tech offense that was alarmingly thin up front. There were signs almost from the beginning that Mohetau wouldn't live up to the hype, including an incident during preseason camp in which he briefly quit the team, and he ended up washing out of the program at the end of the fall semester.
BIGGEST HOME RUN: Michael Crabtree. Crabtree is one of the best football players in the history of Red Raider football. No other Tech player has, or likely ever will, done what he did in just two seasons. Two-time Biletnikoff Award winner. Two-time unanimous consensus All-American. Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. AT&T All-America Player of the Year. The honors and awards speak for themselves
STRENGTH OF THE CLASS: Wide Receiver. Tech inked four receivers in 2006 - Crabtree, Lyle Leong, Adam James and Adrian Reese. Crabtree and Leong, who was greyshirted, are both all over the Red Raider record books, and are most notably No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in single-season and career touchdown catches. James, who was also greyshirted, was a minor contributor for four seasons, while Reese transferred to Northwestern State before the 2009 campaign.
WEAKNESS OF THE CLASS: Offensive Line. For whatever reason, offensive line recruiting under Leach was very hit or miss. The program averaged nearly five offensive line signees per year from 2000-06 and seemed to either miss or hit on all of them in any given class. Tech was coming off of a 'hit' year in 2005 as four of the team's five offensive line signees eventually developed into multi-year starters. In 2006, the story was much different. The Red Raiders signed seven offensive linemen that February and, of that group, five left the team before the beginning of the 2007 season. Chris Olson was the only one that made any notable impact during his career.