Texas Tech finished the 2011 season at the bottom of our linebacker rankings, but the Red Raiders may have gotten a big boost at the position this spring.
Coach Tommy Tuberville's raved about junior transfer Will Smith since practice began, but his words have become action now.
Tuberville moved the newcomer from the outside to middle linebacker, with one main purpose in mind: keeping him on the field.
“If you play him at an outside linebacker position, there’s going to be some games you might not get 20 snaps,” Tuberville said, “because a defensive back’s going to take your spot (against passing teams).
“After watching the first eight practices and two scrimmages, there’s no doubt he’s going to be one of our better linebackers, maybe the best.”
Strong words from a man who has shown over the course of his career that he knows a thing or two about defense. It also goes to show you: As well as Texas Tech has recruited under Tuberville, you never know where impact players can come from. It's a little early to toss that designation on Smith, but it's clear he's been one of the league's breakout players this spring.
He began his career at Northwood University, a Division II school in Michigan before transferring to Riverside Community College in California. He helped Riverside go 11-0 last season and was second on the team with 36 solo tackles and 13 tackles for loss. He also added three interceptions.
Now, a few months later, he's making a strong push to start at middle linebacker for a Big 12 team. Quite the story, and quite the needed development for a defense that's struggled the past two seasons.