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February 2, 2011

Tech ends '11 cycle on high note

After further review, Texas Tech football finished in the Top 25 after all.

Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville said the 2010 football season officially ended Wednesday with a final game -- the recruiting game.

The Red Raiders were big winners on National Signing Day with 27 recruits faxing in National Letters of Intent and coming together to make up what is right now being considered Rivals.com's 19th best recruiting class of 2011.

"When I first got here, I told you the biggest thing about what we needed to do, obviously, was go out and be salesmen," Tuberville said during his National Signing Day press conference Wednesday. "I've got a good bunch of guys that do a great job of selling a great product that we have here at Texas Tech. Again, this is today, the 27 players that we signed are accumulation of a lot of hard work and dedication from those guys, the people in our building, academics, training room, weight room, administrators, all of our players, and it takes everybody to do that."

The Red Raiders took care of all their urgent needs.

Tech got its top quarterback target in Austin (Texas) Lake Travis signal caller Michael Brewer. The Red Raiders also got a Rivals100 tight end in Jace Amaro from San Antonio (Texas) MacArthur, four running backs to further aid Eric Stephens and a few receivers that could make an impact in the wake of losing Lyle Leong and Detron Lewis.

Defensively, Red Raider fans should expect a much improved defense in the next year to two years based on what Tuberville and crew were able to bring in.

For starters Tech stole McKeesport (Pa.) defensive end Branden Jackson from his hometown school of Pittsburgh in addition to offers from USC and Oregon and many others.

The defensive line also will receive an immediate boosts from junior college transfers Leon Mackey and Dennell Wesley on top of two other defensive linemen that were sought after.

The linebackers received extra depth as well and Tech added two defensive secondary players to a young core of defensive backs.

"This class this year will go a long ways in terms of making this football program better and in a lot of areas, not just athletic ability, but also guys that are good people that wanted to come here for the right reasons," Tuberville said. "(They) were very receptive to what we do on offense and defense."

How Tech got such a strong class after years of mediocre results on the recruiting trail may have few college football fans perplexed.

"We had no problem selling Lubbock and the community and West Texas and the Big 12," Tuberville said. "There is a lot of interest in that. The thing you do run into -- and we went to other conferences and we competed against some of the so-called big boys in this country in college football. We beat them some, they beat us some. But what makes me feel good is they had to take off the soft gloves and put on the hard ones because they knew we were in town. That was fun."

But now that Tech has secured 27 new players, the question has to be what to do with all of them.

Tuberville said he is initially impressed with the defensive linemen, Mackey, Jackson and Kindred Evans. The 6-foot-6 offensive lineman, Le'Raven Clark, could be a contributor if he can get to about 300 pounds by the start of the season. It seems doable since Clark was at 230 pounds last season and weighs in now around 275 pounds.

Tuberville also said Amaro should start immediately at tight end.

Brewer probably will get buried in the depth chart behind quarterbacks Seth Doege, Jacob Karam and Scotty Young and have to develop further. The running backs and linebackers will mostly be projects in work, too.

When all is said and done though, the talent of the 2011 recruiting class surpasses that of any other Red Raider class before it and those aforementioned projects in work have the potential to be gamers.

This could be Tech's best victory to date.

"This is really the end of our year," Tuberville said. "This is the last day of the year for our season. When we get up (Thursday) it's a whole new year, whole new season."


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