Catching up with Texas Tech

DALLAS — Had the privilege to spend some time with the Texas Tech coaching staff on Thursday, a day after it signed one of the best recruiting classes in school history, and a top 20 class after a 5-7 season.

Here's what I wrote about that.

But there was plenty more. Here's a bit of what didn't have a spot in the story.

No margin for error for Tech

Tech coach Tommy Tuberville isn't denying the role injuries played in the disappointing season, but even before that, with the inexperience on offense, the expectations for 2011 weren't high.

"We knew it was going to be a tough year to begin with," Tuberville said. "We felt like we could make it defensively with the high school guys that we'd recruited, and we took one junior college player, but if I had to do it over again, if I knew we'd lose 6,7,8 guys with injury, we had 15 total, but 3-4 of those guys were defensive guys. We just hit rock bottom."

That put pressure on an offense with a new quarterback and a new running back, but a team with prospects to win 7-9 games couldn't handle that kind of injury.

Stephens' value underrated, status uncertain

Texas Tech lost leading rusher Eric Stephens in the fifth game to a badly dislocated knee, but he was a lot more than just the team's top runner. Offensive coordinator Neal Brown noted that people forgot he was the team's No. 2 receiver and the best pass-blocking back, too.

Stephens is obviously out for the spring, but the coaching staff is considering using his remaining redshirt year this season. He should be available in limited capacity during fall camp, and Tuberville said the possible 1,000-yard rusher was on pace for a normal recovery so far, but would have to take it slow as the season approached. He could be eased into Tech's nonconference schedule, and be at 100 percent at midseason. That's still in flux as his rehab progresses, but the staff made it clear that they're prepared to use his redshirt year if the healing process is slowed for any reason or Stephens suffers a setback.

Douglas staying on defense

Tuberville lamented the fact the Red Raiders were forced to put a former receiver on Biletnikoff Award winner Justin Blackmon in a 66-6 loss to Oklahoma State, thanks to injuries.

That duty went to Cornelius Douglas, but Douglas isn't going back to offense after spending the last part of the season on the defensive side of the ball.

"I think he's got a future there, I think he got better," Tuberville said. "He did pretty well."

Will A&M's SEC exit open up Houston recruiting?

Texas A&M concluded its final season in the Big 12, but once they leave, Tuberville says the Aggies' recruiting stronghold in Houston could be up for grabs for teams in the Big 12.

"I think there's a lot of kids that's going to want to stay in the state of Texas and play, and that's going to be probably 10-12 guys that could have gone to A&M that stay in the state, so you're going to see a lot more teams go to that area, which we already do," Tuberville said, "but you're going to see more of a presence there."

The addition of another Texas team in the league, TCU, will only intensify recruiting battles in Texas, Tuberville said.

"It'll affect everybody. They'll be a force here in the metroplex. It just makes it that much harder for everybody, not just us," he said. "It makes it harder for Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, because it's another team from Texas."

What to expect from Darrin Moore

Darrin Moore made the biggest splash on the opening weekends of the 2011 season, catching 12 passes for 221 yards and adding nine catches for 118 yards and three scores the following week.

But on the second series against Nevada, he suffered the first of a handful of injuries throughout the season, and was what offensive coordinator Neal Brown described as a "nonfactor" until the final few games of 2011. Brown admitted they may have rushed him back, but said he was disappointed with how Moore worked in rehabbing those injuries.

The issue was discussed and the two sides came to an understanding, but the coaching staff is expecting Moore, a speedy, athletic 6-foot-4, 214-pounder to produce like he did early last season in 2012.

Prunty making a name for himself

Texas Tech defensive ends coach Robert Prunty has earned a reputation as one of the league's top recruiters, and continued it this year with another strong showing on the recruiting trail in just his second season at Texas Tech, joining the staff after a decade at Hargrave Military Academy.

"The big thing about recruiting is being able to evaluate good players, but he had to do it all when he was there. Chief, cook and bottle washer for 10 years," Tuberville said. "He had to do eligibility, recruiting, evaluating, the signing and all those things, so he's got a lot of experience, plus he's got a lot of contacts with coaches. He's just one of those guys that's well-connected to a lot of people.

"He can go to Crockett, Texas and recruit, or he can go to Pittsburgh and recruit. You've got to be able to communicate with different types of players in different communities and environments and settings, and I have fun with him. I recruit with him a lot. He does a great job. He presents himself well."