March 14, 2012

Healthy WRs look good

What we knew heading into spring:

Texas Tech's receiving corps was a strong suit last season. It carried a severely crippled offense along with quarterback Seth Doege to a win against Oklahoma and a couple of competitive games down the stretch in an effort for bowl eligibility.

There was a lot of depth at receiver last year, but injuries certainly tested it out. Two of the Red Raiders' best from last season are still recovering from injuries sustained during the course of the 2011 season.

Wideout Darrin Moore was lost in the third game of the season with a compound leg and ankle injury just after establishing himself as Tech's ultimate deep threat. He's still not 100 percent. Then in the second to last game of the season, Alex Torres sustained a torn ACL injury that he's still rehabbing from.

Fortunately, there was depth behind the two to make for adequate spring practices. Eric Ward, Bradley Marquez and Jace Amaro would be available entering spring practice while former four-star wideout Derek Edwards is coming out of his redshirt freshman year as are inside receivers Jakeem Grant and Javares McRoy. Senior receiver Tyson Williams also is coming out of a redshirt transfer year from West Texas A&M.

Tech also added Gulf Coast (Miss.) Community College standout Javon Bell as another deep threat.

All and all, not a bad group to work with prior to the summer conditioning program and the continued rehabilitation processes for guys like Torres.

What we know at the midway point of spring ball:

The redshirt freshmen are surprising us in a good way.

Edwards just might be the No. 1 wideout as Ward has sat out most of the spring with bruised ribs and Moore continues to get healthy after last season's injuries. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound wideout has become a serious vertical threat with his ball tracking and route adjustment skills.

It also looks like the little guys in Grant and McRoy are going to do some big things in 2012, especially Grant. Both players have excellent acceleration and both can bounce off tacklers in the middle of the field and keep going for more yards. Grant seems to have a better timing relationship with Doege but that could change as we get closer to September.

Another guy that has been impressive is Aaron Fisher. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound inside receiver looks like someone that can get the first down on a short yardage passing play. He's not afraid to run into the middle of the field for a catch. He's been punished for it a few times with hard hits, but he keeps going back and that's something the coaches must love.

But attrition also has been a problem.

Last week Amaro was arrested for credit card fraud and his long-term status with the team is depending on an investigation. It's extremely unfortunate as Amaro had arguably his best practice ever the very day he got arrested.

Inside receiver and punt returner Austin Zouzalik still isn't healthy after an apparent concussion sustained late last season. He's been very limited in spring ball and has not been used in team practice drills.

As mentioned earlier, Kennard needed a big spring to improve his game if he wants to be involved with the offense his senior season. He pulled a hamstring muscle early in spring ball and has been limited through the first 10 spring practices.

Bell pulled his groin muscle and seemed to be playing tight the last few practices.

There has been some good and some bad this spring for the receivers. Fortunately, there's a long way to go and time for recovery between now and the beginning of the 2012 season.

Projecting the offseason

Bell has the most to gain as a junior college player who's about to get acquainted with Joe Walker's offseason conditioning program. Bell has a lot of raw tools right now so expect him to come out a much better player by the time fall camp comes around.

Reginald Davis and Dominique Wheeler, Rivals250 guys, will finally arrive on campus and could push some players in front of them as early as the fall with their athleticism and speed.

There's a lot to be gained from the offseason from an injury standpoint as well.

Moore's condition will continue to improve and getting off for the week of spring break has to help. He's looked decent so far, but will surely be healthy by the end of the summer.

Ward has been held out of spring practices for precautionary reasons. Bruised ribs are a nagging injury and the coaching staff already knows what he can do.

Kennard's big spring must turn into a big summer in the weight room and a good fall camp. He has the potential to do good things as a wide receiver at Tech, but he's going to have to work very hard.

Hopefully Zouzalik will be ready to go by the start of the 2012 season. Head injuries are scary things and apparently he's still feeling the effects on a daily basis.

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