Former Tech star MLB Brad Hastings dead at 44

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

I can still visualize Brad Hastings storming through the Texas Tech defense to make another tackle.

That's why his death Monday at the age of 44 from high blood pressure and breathing problems is such a shock.

Hastings left Tech as the school's career leader in tackles. But a knee injury snuffed out his hopes of a pro career after college.

"He was absolutely one of the most outstanding football players I ever was around," former Tech coach Spike Dykes told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. "He was a great leader, and he was a great player. I think had he not got his knee hurt before his senior year, no telling how long he would have played in the NFL."

Hastings was a significant player in Tech's history because he was one of the first big recruits in the Southwest Conference in the early 1980s who took a chance on the Red Raiders.

That was an era when SMU and Baylor were dominant programs along with Texas and Arkansas. Tech was considered an afterthought.

Recruiting in the Texas area was fierce in those days. And when Hastings, who attended Arlington Bowie High School and was a Parade All-American, chose Tech it was a big deal.

He then played like it as he racked up 480 tackles to rank as the school's leading tackler until another Tech middle linebacker, Lawrence Flugence, broke the record 15 years later.

Most still consider him to be one of the greatest defensive players in Tech's history. And most expect he would have had a chance at a productive NFL career if the knee injury hadn't materialized.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. April 19 at First Presbyterian Church in Arlington. His survivors include two children, Hastings' father told the Avalanche-Journal.