LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — First-year coach Kliff Kingsbury’s staff got a late start in recruiting, yet they came away encouraged Wednesday after signing players who will fit Texas Tech’s immediate needs on the offensive line.
Kingsbury said Wednesday that some of the five offensive linemen could play right away.
“We think it’s one of the best classes that we’ve had around here probably in quite some time, just based on size and stature,” said Kingsbury, one of the youngest coaches in Division I at 33. “Guys that we expect to come in and play right away. That was a big need going into it.”
He also stressed speed on defense and offense and believes his staff, some of whom played with him at Texas Tech, accomplished that.
“Speed is one thing you can’t coach,” he said. “We’re trying to be the fastest team in the Big 12. That’s our goal, the way we want to play on offense and defense.”
Kingsbury, a former Red Raiders standout quarterback who last year coached Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M, was hired in December after Tommy Tuberville left for Cincinnati. Rivals.com ranked the Red Raiders signing class 50th, a significant drop from Tuberville’s last two years when the website ranked them 26th in 2012 and 20th in 2011.
Devin Lauderdale from Houston Bellaire, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound receiver, is the program’s lone Rivals.com four-star recruit. Lauderdale had offers from five other Big 12 schools as well as Alabama and Ohio State.
He’d withdrawn his commitment to Tech after Tuberville left. But co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach Eric Morris succeeded in landing him, Kingsbury said.
Morris, a former Red Raiders receiver, “made (Lauderdale) feel like this was the best situation for him,” Kingsbury said. “With his speed it’s at a national level. That’s something that we really need here. We’re excited to get him on the field and see what he can do.”
The new regime also made inroads in Georgia, at the opposite side of the state from where former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach used to recruit at Valdosta State.
Trey Haverty, a former Red Raiders receiver who now coaches safeties, knew a player from Martin Luther King High and used his connections to get three players to come to Lubbock — receiver D.J. Polite-Bray, offensive lineman Josh Outlaw and linebacker Jacarthy Mack.
“They’re three great players, guys that really fit our systems, so it just worked out,” Kingsbury said.
The Red Raiders also got a quarterback, Davis Webb of Prosper. The 6-foot-4 Webb, who threw for 23 touchdowns and 2,722 yards his senior season, probably will redshirt.
Expected starter and redshirt sophomore Michael Brewer, last year’s backup to Seth Doege, could be more of a threat on the ground than his predecessor even as the Red Raiders are expected to return to the Air Raid offense Leach made famous.
The ages and experience of Texas Tech’s coaching staff — five of Kingsbury’s staff are former Red Raiders — helped in the recruiting effort, Kingsbury said.
“A lot of them aren’t too far removed from being real successful players on the college level, and I think when you speak on that level to a high school kid there’s a little more street cred involved when you can talk about your experience as a player at college in the Big 12, and even in the NFL in some cases,” he said. “It’s been well received by everybody we’ve been in contact with.”