Lindy’s Top 40 Countdown: No. 33 Texas Tech Staff

July 18, 2014 at 12:54 pm.

Davis Webb bulked up in the offseason and is ready to lead the Red Raiders to a big season. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

LOCATION: Lubbock, Texas

COACH: Kliff Kingsbury — At Texas Tech and overall: 8-5, 1 year



LAST LEAGUE TITLE: 1994, Southwest Conference co-champs


RETURNING STARTERS: 13; 8 offense, 4 defense, kicker

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Davis Webb, WR Jakeem Grant, WR Bradley Marquez, OL Le’Raven Clark, NT Rika Levi, DE Branden Jackson, OLB Pete Robertson, CB Justis Nelson

PRIMARY STRENGTHS: Tech’s offense returns the majority of its starters, balanced between playmakers and an experienced line, led by all-conference LT Le’Raven Clark. The Red Raiders also have arguably the fastest starting wide receiver lineup in school history. On defense, the linebackers are vocal veterans.

POTENTIAL PROBLEMS: The defensive line will likely be made up almost entirely of junior college transfers, only one of whom went through spring ball. There are big questions at the cornerback position opposite Justis Nelson, and no one in particular stood out this spring. The punting and punt return games are questions, too.


Quarterback Davis Webb’s bowl performance was brilliant, and now he’s the team’s unquestioned starter. Webb headlined the team’s spring practices. He added 20 pounds over the o­ season to fill out his frame, and he also added a noticeable amount of arm strength. Many of his downfield throws look much easier and have a ton of zip.

At receiver, veteran playmakers Jakeem Grant and Bradley Marquez look to lead the way.

Marquez has been moved from an outside position to the inside Y position, essentially replacing Jace Amaro’s tight end role with a more traditional Air Raid slot receiver. Grant, who sometimes looks like he’s controlled by a joystick, grew as a receiver this spring, becoming a much better route runner.

The two starting outside receivers — D.J. Polite-Bray and Reginald Davis — are breakout candidates as speedy playmakers who are great in space.

The move of tailback Kenny Williams to linebacker makes way for junior jitterbug DeAndre Washington, who’s finally healthy and looked great this spring.

The line will be anchored by Le’Raven Clark, but the all-conference left tackle may play left guard if junior college transfer Dominique Robertson impresses in fall camp.


It’s too early to tell much about the Texas Tech defense, as the Red Raiders will add three junior college signees to the defensive line during the summer: nose tackle Rika Levi, end Brandon Thorpe and defensive tackle Marcus Smith.

Junior college transfer defensive lineman Keland McElrath, also expected to start or contribute right away, actually went through spring football with Tech. All four will be expected to make up the core of Tech’s defensive front, along with stalwart end Branden Jackson.

At linebacker, Tech has a veteran, savvy group that includes Pete Robertson and running back turned-linebacker Kenny Williams.

Tech has promising young talent in the secondary, but most of those pieces are still unproven. Free safety J.J. Gaines was one of the bright young stars on Tech’s defense last fall.

Keenon Ward made huge improvements this spring at strong safety and could be in line to start opposite of Gaines. At corner, sophomore Justis Nelson could be an all-conference player in the making.


Darrin Chiaverini takes over as special teams coach, and the expectation is that the unit will dramatically improve while being overseen by a full-time coach. Senior kicker Ryan Bustin is back after making 23 of 27 field goal attempts last season.

Punter Taylor Symmank replaces Ryan Erxleben, showing promise at times throughout spring ball.


The Red Raiders are ready for year two of the Kliff­ Kingsbury era with star-in-the-making quarterback Davis Webb at the helm. With no controversy surrounding Tech football for the first time in years, it’s time to see if the Red Raiders can make the next step toward being a top-tier program in the Big 12.


NT Rika Levi: The 6-2, 350-pound transfer from College of San Mateo is expected to come in and anchor the front seven of Texas Tech’s defense. He was the Defensive Player of the Year for the California Community College Football Coaches Association.

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