A week after signing day, the composition of Big 12 rosters is starting to come into focus for 2016.
Some programs used the Class of 2016 to address needs while questions about other positions are poised to linger into the spring and beyond. Now is the perfect time to take a closer look at each program in the Big 12 including the strength and weakness of each team post-signing day.
We continue the series with Texas Tech:
Biggest need heading into signing day: Defensive line
Texas Tech brings back defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko, who started all 13 games last season as a true freshman. And that’s about it. Only two other defensive linemen return who started games in 2015: Zach Barnes (three starts) and Gary Moore (one).
Branden Jackson and Pete Robertson started a combined 74 games. Four more D-linemen are gone who came in as junior college transfers. Also gone: defensive line coach Mike Smith. New assistant Kevin Patrick has some work to do in the spring to rebuild this unit.
How it was addressed: The Red Raiders are definitely heading in the right direction in terms of numbers. The staff signed seven defensive linemen last week and only one of them, DT Mychealon Thomas, came from the junior college ranks.
When defensive ends Houston Miller, Noah Jones and Clarence Henderson and defensive tackles Thomas, Ivory Jackson, Joe Wallace and Nick McCann get on campus, Kliff Kingsbury has said they’re all going to be thrown into the mix. Any of them could play this season.
Throw in transfers Ondre Pipkins (Michigan) and Kolin Hill (Notre Dame), who’ll be eligible in 2016, and there should be good battles for jobs going forward. The only guy who’s a lock to start, at least at this point, would be Fehoko. Competition can decide the rest.
Position of strength: Quarterback
Even with Davis Webb heading off to Colorado, the Red Raiders remain in really good shape at the quarterback spot.
Patrick Mahomes raised his game as a sophomore and will be one of the most exciting quarterbacks in all of college football in 2016. Backups Nic Shimonek (an Iowa transfer) and Payne Sullins are comfortable in the system and improving, and prolific signee Jett Duffey is already on campus and will certainly benefit from enrolling early.
Biggest remaining weakness: Offensive line
No matter who wins the many vacant starting jobs, this group is going to be much younger in 2016. Madison Akamnonu, Conner Dyer and Robert Castaneda are a few of the Red Raiders’ more exciting young linemen, and more should emerge by the time we reach fall camp.