Spring Personnel: Delvon Simmons, Leon Mackey, Jackson Richards, Chris Knighton, Kindred Evans, Dartwan
Bush, Branden Jackson, Kerry Hyder,
Lee Adams, Dennell Wesley, Donte
Fall Additions: Chase Robison, Anthony Smith, Michael Starts, J. J. Lollar
Money Quote: “He
[Leon Mackey] is a really strong kid. We had a kid a year ago when I was at the
University of North Carolina that’s a friend of his, and when I talked to him
about him, they’re very similar guys. And he’s really strong. He’s 270 pounds
right now; he could get a little bit bigger and he’s really strong. I’m anxious
to see what he can do. I think he can really be a factor in there. “—Art
Spring Performance: Texas Tech had defensive problems across the board a year ago, and those difficulties
started up front. If the Red Raiders are to experience an instauration on
defense in 2012, it too will start with the defensive line.
Entering spring camp, the prospects for major improvement up
front seemed modest. Defensive end Scott Smith, the only Red Raider lineman who
looked like he belonged in the Big 12 last
season, had used all of his eligibility. And the returnees, frankly, didn’t
inspire great confidence, while the newcomers gave little promise of solving
the line’s problems.
Now with spring camp in the books, however, the defensive
line shapes up as the team’s most pleasant surprise outside of the secondary.
With the move of Leon Mackey inside, Tech now has six
defensive tackles and noseguards. Veteran Kerry Hyder, who weighs only 265 pounds, didn’t make numerous
extraordinary plays, but repeatedly garnered praise from Tommy Tuberville and
Art Kaufman. Hyder appears to have his technique down
pat, and he understands the defense. As Tuberville stated, however, Hyder must gain weight if he’s to be a serious factor in
the Big 12.
Mackey, who likely will play at 275 or 280 pounds, figures
to start alongside Hyder. Mackey was not extremely
quick or dynamic for a defensive end, but figures to be both of those things by
the standards of a defensive tackle. If he’s the solid oak tree Kaufman
believes him to be, Mackey could flourish on the inside.
At this point Delvon Simmons, Lee
Adams, Dennell Wesley and Donte
Phillips are the candidates for backup duty. Kaufman expects to play five
interior linemen, which means one of this quartet will see little action.
Redshirt freshman Phillips, because of his inexperience, is the least likely to
play meaningful snaps.
Defensive end looks to have more star
potential at this point. To wit, Dartwan Bush appears
ready to become Tech’s next great pass rusher. Along with Cornelius Douglas and
Will Smith, he may be Tech’s strongest All Big 12 candidate on defense.
But the really pleasant surprise was the emergence of Branden Jackson. The redshirt freshman was the less touted
of Tech’s Pennsylvania defensive line recruits (Simmons was the other) from a
year ago, but looks like he will beat his fellow Keystone stater
to the starting lineup. If Jackson continues to develop he will provide the
Tech defense with that most delightful of rareties—a
second serious pass rush threat.
Primary depth at defensive end will come from Jackson
Richards, who is very solid against the run. But Art Kaufman still must find
two more defensive ends to ensure that this group is of Big 12 quality.