Like any football team, Texas Tech has several players whose performance will be particularly critical to the squad's success. These players, whether by virtue experience, leadership, importance of the position played, depth concerns, or sheer talent, are especially crucial. They may or not be the best players on the club, but they would be very conspicuous were they to be absent for any reason. In fact, that may be the best way to conceive of the critical players—they are the performers the team could least afford to lose.
With this series, we will take a reverse order look at the Red Raider football players we consider most invaluable.
6' 5' 305
Le'Raven Clark is going to be a superb offensive lineman. The only question is at what position.
Clark is currently stationed at left tackle, the position typically reserved for a team's most athletic and talented offensive lineman. And certainly there are no plans to move him from that spot. With the loss of JUCO recruit Aaron Bennett, who was slotted for the tackle position, numbers are just too thin to shift players away from that post. Nevertheless, there may be some question as to what Clark's natural position really is.
Now Clark was recruited as a tackle, and was worked at that position during his true freshman year. Frankly, he was more than a bit shaky at tackle, and with La'Adrian Waddle locking down left tackle last season, Clark was redshirted and then moved to right guard. And there he flourished.
Clark, who started all thirteen games last season, earned beaucoup Freshman All America notice and was even named third team All Big 12 by Phil Steele. Much to the point, Clark was very, very impressive. He was solid in all facets of the game and played nothing like a freshman. What's more, he improved noticeably as the year progressed. In other words, there is no doubt whatsoever that Clark, left at guard, would develop into an All Big 12 if not All America performer.
Clark's obvious talent, however, combined with the crying need for a top-flight left tackle in Tech's passing attack, meant a move to left tackle, and that's where he'll be for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen whether Clark will perform as well at tackle as at guard.
At this juncture, reviews are generally positive if not glowing. He is certainly much better at tackle than he was during his trial there as a true freshman. Clark is bigger and stronger, and has not lost any quickness. He also uses his hands better and has better footwork. But Clark is not yet to the point where he silences all pass rushers all the time. He is still a work in progress, and that is a bit of a concern.
What's more worrisome is that Clark's current backup, sophomore Matt Wilson, currently tips the scales at a wispy 270 pounds. Right now Wilson is built like an overgrown tight end rather than a tackle, which throws into some question his ability to play meaningful snaps in support of Clark. And that means, in turn, that Clark must pan out.