With the addition of defensive end Josh Davies-Balogun and safety Cameron Smith over the weekend, I thought it was worth discussing this second wave of junior college players that have committed to Texas Tech.
I went back and looked at head coach Matt Wells 2019 class and two of the three JUCO players that committed from that class happened in December, tight end Travis Koontz and punter Jon Garibay, while linebacker Kosi Eldridge committed in May (May 14th to be exact). Eldridge was one of those commits that I don’t know a ton about, but if I remember correctly he played JUCO at Kilgore and committed with 3 years to play. Eldridge played mainly special teams last year and I think that Matt Wells mentioned him as being part of the mix this year at linebacker. Garibay didn’t play due to the outstanding year that Austin McNamara had.
It seems as if the staff is attempting to cherry pick from the JUCO ranks, kids who are good (maybe not great) but with potential and who are qualified and ready to attend.
A few background notes:
- I counted only 11 scholarship defensive backs on the roster and with Derek Jones maybe moving toward a 5 man defensive backfield rather than a linebacker being the 5th guy, this was a position of need for the most part. That’s really not enough for a rotation, so it makes sense that the coaching staff needed some versatile defensive backs who could do a little bit of everything. And I hopefully do not need to address how terrible the passing defense was last year (it was really bad).
- During the spring, we learned that sophomore tight end Simon Gonzalez (6-4/235) was suspended (no reason was given) and that meant that there were very few, only walk-on’s Jackson Pace (6-2/215), Connor Killian (6-2/240), and Jackson Baggett (6-3/200), with the other scholarship tight end being Travis Koontz (6-5/245). With Texas Tech almost exclusive running in 12 personnel, only one reliable scholarship linebacker was enough.
- Last year, Texas Tech was 80th in the nation in sacks and 7th in the Big 12. On the year, Texas Tech garnered 24 sacks, and I’ve harped on the idea that 7 of them happened against Oklahoma State. If Texas Tech were to play to their average, it would be closer to 19 or 20 racks rather than the 24 that Texas Tech actually had. That’s a pretty obvious place of need. Getting to the quarterback as quickly as possible.
Things started off in March with the commitment of Northeast Oklahoma A&M defensive back Cameron Watts (6-0/175), playing just his freshman year and gathering 32 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss, 2 interceptions, and 9 pass break-ups. And the latest commit, Cameron White (6-0/195) committed after finishing two years at Northwest Mississippi. White is really intriguing because of his background and the fact that he committed to Ole Miss, with an offer from Alabama, but ended up at a JUCO for two years. It’s odd . . . for sure, but if there’s talent there and he can play cornerback and safety, then that’s probably something that this team needs.
Next is the commitment of Jason Lloyd (6-4/245), again, only playing his freshman year, catching 13 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown, which is fine as a freshman and earned all-conference tight end honors. And Texas Tech was very much the only offer for this year, and a lot of times mid-majors offer early and Power Five figure it out and then offer later.
And then the staff found Josh Davies-Balogun (6-5/240) from Butler County C.C. where he finished 7.5 sacks, 11 tackles for a loss, and 53 tackles. The 7.5 sacks would have obviously led the team, the team leader last year was Eli Howard who had 5 sacks, with Jordyn Brooks and Riko Jeffers each had 3 sacks. Davies-Balogun is probably a pass-rushing specialist who
The question that we’re all probably asking ourselves is that why didn’t these guys get offered more and why didn’t they sign in December? What’s their problem? I think that’s the thing that we don’t know just yet, which is the evaluation process for the football staff. They’re obviously turning over every rock to find players. The question is the evaluation aspect and if these guys can play or if they’re just depth. The verdict is still out with Kosi Eldridge and where he fits in at linebacker.
The good news though is that the staff is trying to find spots to fill the roster and I think this is sort of the Chris Beard method of trying guys out. For the most part with Beard, guys are essentially on one-year deals to prove that they can play Big 12 basketball and if you cannot, then he’s perfectly fine moving on and helping you find a place to play. With football, it’s a bit different, players take much more time to develop normally and so one-year deals don’t probably work. But Wells isn’t filling his scholarship spots with walk-on’s and he’s giving perhaps fringe prospects with the chance to develop and I think I’d rather have that. This program needs talent and the more the better.