Takeaways: What we learned from Texas Tech's local media day
MEDIA DAY VIDEO INTERVIEWS: Kliff Kingsbury | Pat Mahomes | DeShaun Foster | Zac Spavital | Nic Shimonek | Justin Murphy | Justin Stockton | Breiden Fehoko | Kolin Hill| Malik Jenkins | Luke Stice | Ondre Pipkins
The Texas Tech football program held its annual preseason local media day on Sunday afternoon at Jones Stadium. The entire Red Raider coaching staff and dozens of players were made available, meaning a lot of information was shared over the course over several hours.
Here are the biggest takeaways from Sunday's event.
- There were two names that kept coming up when players were asked to predict which teammates would have big years: Houston linebacker transfer Luke Stice and wide receiver Cam Batson. They continue to earn the praise of their peers, and it’s clear that they turned a lot of heads this offseason.
- Every player and coach, many of them unsolicited, made mention of the offseason program implemented by Rusty Whitt and his strength staff. Sure, weight room talk is a common part of preseason football, but there seems to be something different in this case. The players and coaches talked about the mental and character-building aspect of Whitt's offseason program, not really about the physical gains. That’s a bit unusual.
- Another name mentioned by several players? True freshman nose tackle Joe Wallace. Breiden Fehoko and Ondre Pipkens both made sure to mention how Wallace has performed this summer so far. They noted that Wallace was surprisingly athletic for a player of his size.
- Pipkens has really transformed his body in the last few months. He lost 40 pounds thanks to both Whitt and the Texas Tech nutrition staff, as he’s now down to a lean 309 pounds. It really sounds like he’s going to be a big part of what the Red Raider defensive line does, and I know Fehoko is excited to play next to him this year.
- The majority of the defensive players and assistants that we spoke with acknowledged that they weren’t happy with the unit's performance a year ago. Say what you will, but all of them expect things to be much different this year. This belief has a lot to do with the mentality, discipline, and toughness instilled by Whitt over the offseason, and the fact that they’re in year two under David Gibbs.
- As for the defensive line, both Pipkens and Fehoko made note of the way Kevin Patrick wants them to play: aggressively. He wants his linemen to make plays, not just stand in a gap. Patrick's intensity and passion is clearly rubbing off on his players.
- Wide receiver Devin Lauderdale said that being away from the team this spring was a big wake-up call for him. He understands that he could’ve had football taken away from him, and he also knows that this is his last chance to prove himself. Lauderdale is ready to get to work and get after it.
-Lauderdale also made an interesting comment about the transition from Darrin Chiaverini to Emmett Jones from a position coach standpoint. Lauderdale pressed the point that Jones was all about details and consistency, implying that wasn't necessarily the case in the past.
- Offensive lineman Justin Murphy is ready to roll. He’s healthy, and he’s visibly eager to get back to playing football. Murphy set the tone for this offense from a physicality standpoint a year ago, and he’ll very much be that again this fall.
- On the other side of the ball along the defensive line, the guy that Murphy believes is the tone-setter might be nose tackle Broderick Washington. Murphy believes the redshirt freshman is aggressive, physical and brings an edge to the defensive line.
- It was interesting listening to Justin Stockton talk about the running back position, specifically the competition level. He knows if he messes up or is off the field too long, one of these younger backs such as DeMarcus Felton or Corey Dauphine might take his job. He’s taking nothing for granted, despite being the starter.