Yet none of those household names had more sacks than Texas Tech's Pete Robertson in 2014. The Red Raiders senior led the Big 12 with 12 sacks a year ago but was overshadowed by a disappointing 4-8 season. With his final season on the horizon, Robertson chatted with ESPN.com about last season's struggles, the lack of attention and playing at Tech.
When you look back at last season, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Pete Robertson: Get better as a team. Special teams, offense, defense, just overall.
Last year you had lots of individual success but that success didn’t happen as a team. What was that like?
PR: I had success with the sacks and all but at the end of the day, as a team, we still went 4-8. I want to bring that same intensity to next season and hopefully it brings a better season next year.
Do you feel disrespected or overlooked when your name doesn’t come up when people talk about some of the Big 12’s best players?
PR: That’s a thought in the back of my head every single time but at the end of the day most of the teams in the Big 12 had a good season and that’s how it comes. I don’t think too much or worry about what people think, how they portray me. I just go out every day and try to perfect my craft and better my team.
Heading into 2015 what are some of your goals individually and for the team?
PR: I just want to have a season like I had last season or even 10 times better than that. I just want to get everybody on the same page, every single person on the team from the quarterback to offensive linemen to defensive linemen to the safeties. Everyone on the same page so we know and trust the guy beside you or the guy in front of you to make the play and be there.
Did you feel like that was a weakness last year?
PR: Definitely. There were times we’d get down and get to pointing fingers, calling names. With a team, things like that happen. I’ll use Florida State as an example. They were down several times but they find a way to fight back into the game and win the game. Obviously that’s not just the quarterback position, that’s a team coming together and playing as a team. That’s what we need to do.
Sounds like you’re taking a role to be more vocal in those situations.
PR: It’s started since the season ended, I’ve been more vocal to let guys know it doesn’t matter what kind of situation we are in or what you’re going through in your life, you’re always going to have a guy next to you. Play your heart out for that guy and everyone else and everything will take care of itself.
What are your early impressions of [new Tech defensive coordinator] Coach [David] Gibbs?
PR: He’s a funny guy. He kind of reminds me of my coaches in high school. He’s a heck of a guy, I love him, not just coaching-wise but personality-wise. You can have conversations with him for hours and not just about football.
How do you like your role in his defense?
PR: I love my role. Last year I was primarily a pass-rusher. Now he has me all over the place, I’m spying the quarterback more, dropping in coverage more, it’s expanding my ability so I can play more and help our team as much as I can.
Anything specific you wanted to improve this offseason?
PR: Heading into the offseason I wanted to work so I can play every single play without getting tired. I wanted to work on my conditioning. There were times last year when I would get gassed at times when we were out there for two or three series or for a nine-play drive. And I wanted to just work on all things to get better and help me on the field and in the weight room.
Say I was a recruit. What would you tell me is the best thing about playing at Texas Tech?
PR: The best thing about playing at Texas Tech is you're going to have the opportunity to do whatever you want, not only on the field but off the field. Get a good degree, learn things you won’t learn back home or somewhere else. It’s a great town, I love the atmosphere. You’ll fall in love with Tech when you get here.
If I was a recruit, what would you tell me is the best thing about playing for Kliff Kingsbury?
PR: Any player in the NCAA should want to play for Coach Kingsbury. He’s a young coach, easy to get along with, he’s almost our age. We just enjoy being around him, he comes with a smile on his face every single day and he’s going to speak to every single player to make sure you’re going all right, on and off the field, in the classroom and making sure your family is OK. He’s just a heck of a coach. He’s going to do his best to make sure you’re in the best position, on and off the field.
What would you want to be your legacy at Tech?
PR: I’ll leave that to my fans. I’d just want all my fans to know I played my heart out every game and never gave up.