March 19, 2007

These players could break out this spring

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While every coaching staff across the country wishes that every player they had would have a break out type of spring it just isn't realistic. Texas Tech is no different and this spring they'll need several players to step up and fill a void with so many losses due to graduation. Here are seven players that we think will do so:

Center Shawn Byrnes - While new offensive line coach Jack Bicknell only has Louis Vasquez returning of last season's five starters, he will be very thankful that Byrnes is on his roster too. Folks around the program realize that Byrnes is a big time player and a leader, and he is ready to take over at center for the next three seasons. When Byrnes' name is mentioned around those that play with him, he is described as tough, mean, a bulldog, smart and relentless, which is why he will fill in ably for departed center Brandon Jones.

Linebacker Marlon Williams - This sophomore played right away last year, but mostly just on special teams. Now he could be ready for some heavy-duty time at linebacker. Williams will push hard for playing time at the outside backer spots. He has got exceptional lateral quickness, and he would bring some much needed speed and athleticism to this unit. If he makes an occasional mistake, so be it. Defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich will need to get this youngster ready now because he is the future at outside linebacker.

Defensive end Brandon Williams - One of the most pleasant surprises of the 2006 recruiting class was Williams. No one expected the sophomore from Fort Worth to contribute right away, but he did not seem to care what anyone thought on his way to a 16 tackle, 3.5 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sack season, as well as heavily contributing on various special teams units. Is Williams ready to replace Keyunta Dawson? Probably not, but he could come close and it's his gig now.

Wideout L.A. Reed - Reed will enter his junior season at the 'X' and after being moved countless times before that, this will almost assuredly be his home from now until he graduates. Reed has teased coaches and fans for the better part of two years with his size, his toughness and his ability to make big plays, but now he is needed in a primary role. Reed will not have much competition this spring at 'X' with Todd Walker having to miss the spring due to recent surgery on his pelvis. It is Reed's time, and his quarterback, his offense and his team need him to take advantage of it.

Wideout Michael Crabtree - Oh, what could have been. If you saw this heralded signee last fall as the Red Raiders prepped for their season opener, you would have seen a prospect that was ready to help his team win games. Crabtree is not a speed demon, but he is Joel Filani big and Joel Filani physical, which is why he will fill in Filani's old spot at 'Z'. What Crabtree is, much more than Filani, is athletic. A former high school quarterback, he is dynamite in the open field with the ball in his hands. While he is not fast, he is just fast enough more often than not. Want to know who your primary playmaker will be next year on offense? Look no further than Crabtree.

Offensive tackle Rylan Reed - At some point Reed is going to contribute, and right now would be as good a time as any. Reed enters the spring as the starting right tackle and if he can stay healthy, he will probably hold onto it. Reed's adjustment back into college football is still ongoing as well as his adjustment from tight end to offensive lineman. But like the other players mentioned in this article, his team needs him to get adjusted and adjusted quickly. With four departed senior starters on the offensive line, this unit needs answers and Reed should be one - if he can stay healthy.

Cornerback Laron Moore - When you talk about exceptional athletes on Texas Tech's roster you will not go far before mentioning Moore's name. Moore will compete for Antonio Huffman's vacated spot at corner and will use his 4.3 speed to do it. When Moore first arrived on campus last fall, he quickly went under the knife and had some minor knee surgery done, keeping him out of action until late October. Once Moore returned to practice, he constantly wowed his coaches with his coverage ability. Moore is the wildcard in the cornerback competition. Jamar Wall will be discussed, as will midterm enrollee De'Shon Sanders, but don't bet against Moore. Why? Because speed kills, and Moore has more of it than anyone on defense.

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