By the time that former Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Tommy Tuberville bolted Lubbock for Cincinnati, the recruiting bump that accompanied his arrival had all but faded, leaving new head coach Kliff Kingsbury scrambling to salvage the 2013 recruiting class late, achieving only a modicum of success in that regard, as the group finished ranked 51st in the country and eighth in the Big 12 by the 247Sports composite rankings.
In the 2014 cycle, however, the Red Raiders are in much better shape, as Kingsbury's arrival has created a palpable buzz around the program, along with the savvy hire of former Cibolo Steele head coach Mike Jinks as the running back coach, a move that has already paid dividends in the San Antonio area and especially at Steele, which has become one of the top talent-producing high schools in the state over the last several years.
With rising programs like TCU and Baylor challenging the status quo of the Big 12 recruiting hierarchy, the recruiting landscape in the state of Texas is as competitive as it has ever been, so the Red Raiders couldn't afford to miss on their post-Tuberville hire.
Based on the early returns, it appears that they not only didn't miss on Kingsbury, but made a hire that ensures there will be plenty of talent in Lubbock for years to come, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Justin Stockton, Cibolo (Texas) Steele running back
5'9 | 165 pounds | *** | No. 32 running back nationally | No. 63 player in Texas
One of the most productive running backs in the state after racking up more than 2,000 yards and 30 touchdowns as a junior, Stockton committed to Texas Tech in January of 2013 over an offer from Boise State and since added Baylor and Oklahoma offers. A player under Jinks at Steele, the presence of the former Steele head man in Lubbock was a key factor on Stockton's recruitment. The key factor, most likely.
With 10.77 speed in the 100m as a sophomore, Stockton is one of the fastest players in the state, making him a threat to take it the distance every time he touches the ball. Not a load back in college because of his size, Stockton is also a rather straight-line player, which also somewhat limits his upside.
Tevin Madison, Fayette (Ala.) Fayette County cornerback
5'11 | 165 pounds | *** | No. 39 cornerback nationally | No. 20 prospect in Alabama
The Red Raiders dipped into SEC country to land Madison, who committed in April of 2013 a day after visiting Tennessee, which had extended an offer. So too had Middle Tennessee, Northern Illinois, and South Alabama. He was the fourth commit in a big recruiting weekend for Tech.
A two-way player in high school with strong ball skills, Madison may end up on offense in college, but he also has good physicality for a cornerback with 65 tackles as a junior, in addition to five forced fumbles.
Jakari Dillard, Princeton (Texas) wide receiver
6'4 | 190 pounds | *** | No. 96 wide receiver nationally | No. 81 prospect in Texas
An OU legacy, the lanky Dillard was the first commit in the 2014 class and is now the lone holdover in the group from the Tommy Tuberville era. He chose the Red Raiders over offers from Mississippi State and Syracuse in August of 2012.
A strong deep threat with impressive ball skills, Dillard projects as a red zone threat in college who can use double moves and his size on post routes to get open. He also needs to spend some serious time in the weight room and lacks ideal speed for the position.
Patrick Mahomes, Whitehouse (Texas) quarterback
6'3 | 180 pounds | *** | No. 20 pro-style quarterback nationally | No. 42 prospect in Texas
The son of former relief pitcher Pat Mahomes, Patrick is a three-sport star in high school who just moved to the quarterback position after playing safety as a sophomore and plans on following in his father's footsteps by playing baseball in college. He chose Texas Tech over an offer from Rice.
Though there are some raw aspects of Mahomes and his game, his natural talent is apparent and his production as a junior was impressive -- nearly 4,000 yards passing and 46 touchdowns. As he refines his mechanics, he has the chance to become a good college quarterback, a task made easier because he is athletic for a pro-style quarterback prospect.
Cameron Batson, Oklahoma City (Okla.) Millwood wide receiver
5'9 | 165 pounds | *** | No. 161 wide receiver nationally | No. 11 player in Oklahoma
Another prospect who was part of the big recruiting weekend in April, Batson ended his recruitment in favor of Tech over an offer from Washington State.
Batson is also another two-way prospect, though he projects as an inside receiver for the Red Raiders, where he could see some carries in the jet sweep game after carrying the ball 26 times as a junior. With listed 4.45 speed in the 40, he's a big-play threat, in part because of his elusiveness.
Ian Sadler, Argyle (Texas) wide receiver
5'11 | 190 pounds | *** | No. 163 wide receiver nationally | No. 153 player in Texas
A trip to Lubbock was enough for Sadler to commit to the Red Raiders over offers from Iowa State, Minnesota, and North Texas. A multi-talented athlete who also plays soccer and is effective as a runner and on special teams in addition to playing receiver, Sadler went over 1,000 receiving yards as a junior.
Demarcus Felton, Houston (Texas) Dekaney running back
5'7 | 175 pounds | *** | No. 28 all-purpose back nationally | No. 136 player in Texas
Felton didn't feel the need to extend his recruitment past his first offer from Texas Tech. The replacement for current Texas A&M rising sophomore Trey Williams, Felton took advantage of his opportunity to the tune of 1,916 rushing yards in his first year as a starter.
Deionte Noel, Cibolo (Texas) Steele offensive guard
6'3 | 280 pounds | *** | No. 92 offensive tackle nationally | No. 178 player in Texas
Another Jinks connection, Noel also held offers from Houston and Rice. An interior prospect at the next level, Noel is naturally strong with a good base and excels as a run blocker. In one-on-one battles with 2013 Oklahoma State signee Vincent Taylor last fall, Noel won more than his share of them.
LJ Collier, Munday (Texas) defensive end
6'3 | 230 pounds | *** | No. 47 weakside defensive end nationally | No. 139 player in Texas
A high school teammate of 2013 Texas Tech signee Dee Paul, Collier is like Felton in that the Red Raiders were his only offer when he gave his pledge to Kingsbury in February of 2013. A raw prospect who will probably need some time to develop after playing in a small classification in high school, Collier is a strong athlete and could eventually become a good collegiate pass-rusher with his quickness off the ball.
Mildren Mongtomery, Oklahoma City (Douglass) offensive tackle
6'4 | 251 pounds | ** | No. 131 offensive guard nationally | No. 22 player in Oklahoma
Montgomery comes from one of the more successful high school football programs in the state of Oklahoma, but hadn't received much recruiting attention before pledging to Texas Tech on June 4, 2013. His only other offer was from North Texas and though 247Sports has him ranked as a three-star prospect, his consensus ranking sits at two stars as of his commitment time frame.
Seeing Montgomery at the Dallas NFTC, he looked like a possible prospect physically, though he is clearly well undersized in terms of where he will need to be to contribute at Texas Tech. He didn't test particularly well in the 40 at that event, either, but his athleticism plays better on film, where he is mobile enough to win battles at the second level. With extremely long arms, his reach is a plus and it looks as if he hasn't spent much time in the weight room, making him rather difficult to project, but providing him some upside, even if there is a fair amount of risk because he needs to gain 50 pounds or so and keep that mobility.
Justin Murphy, Belton (Texas) offensive tackle
6'7 | 275 pounds | *** | No. 110 offensive tackle nationally | No. 186 player in Texas
A right tackle for Belton, Murphy chose Texas Tech in June of 2013 over offers from Houston, New Mexico, North Texas, and Rice.
While Murphy does play right instead of left tackle for Belton, he does still project as a tackle in college -- his pass protection is probably his best asset as a prospect at this time because he sits in his cylinder comfortably, has quick feet and reactive body quickness, and does a nice job of shooting his hands to keep defenders out of his body and from turning the corner.
In fact, Murphy looks more mobile in pass protection than he does in run blocking, though it could be partly due to the fact that he does a nice job of chopping his feet when getting to the second level to ensure that he can redirect if necessary. However, the major areas of weakness for him are his overall strength and run-blocking punch. He doesn't roll through his hips particularly well at the line of scrimmage and tends to wall off defenders when he gets into the back seven instead of packing a naturally powerful punch.
Since the feet are there for Murphy, there's hope for him as a prospect once he refines his run-blocking technique and adds strength in the Red Raiders strength and conditioning program.
Robert Castaneda, Round Rock (Texas) offensive guard
6'5.5 | 305 pounds | *** | no. 65 offensive guard nationally | no. 150 player in Texas
A former Kansas State commit who flipped from the Wildcats to the Red Raiders in mid-June of 2013, Castaneda is an offensive tackle for Round Rock slated for the interior of the Kansas State line. He picked up an offer from Texas Tech the day after his offer from Kansas State and some relentless recruiting by Kingsbury and his new staff helped convince the big guard to stay at home in Texas to play college football. Castaneda also had invitations to play at Houston and Purdue at the time of his commitment to Tech.
Derrick Dixon, Dallas (Texas) Skyline safety
5'9 | 185 pounds | *** | no. 51 safety nationally | no. 69 player in Texas
The second highest-rated commit in the Tech class at the time of June commitment, Dixon ended his recruitment in favor of the Red Raiders over offers from the likes of SMU, TCU, Washington State, and West Virginia. In particular, the Horned Frogs offer stands out because of head coach Gary Patterson's history of developing underrecruited talent into impressive college football players.
Over at SB Nation's Texas Tech site, Seth C effectively summarized Dixon as a player:
It's strange in that Dixon is listed as verified at 5'9", but he lists himself at 5'11" in his Hudl video. I don't know if that is Dixon posturing, but I really don't care whether he is 5'9" or 5'11". Dixon does have a nose for the ball and he does a terrific job in pursuit. In seeing a guy his size and with his speed on film, Skyline ain't no joke, I'm surprised that Dixon doesn't play cornerback, but maybe his ability to really bear down on people is an attribute that the Skyline coaching staff wanted to keep at safety. I like that and if anything, having a versatile defensive back, a guy that can play cornerback or safety or the nickel is a valuable asset.
Indeed, Dixon's height is not an asset, but he did create seven turnovers as a junior and clearly has a nose for the football, along with the effective speed in pads to make sure he has a chance to make those plays that help define him as a prospect. Were Dixon 5'11, it seems apparent based on his skillset that he would be a four-star prospect. As it is, he still possesses four-star upside in a three-star frame.
Ivan Thomas, Lawton (Okla.) defensive tackle
6'1 | 290 pounds | *** | no. 70 defensive tackle nationally | no. 14 player in Oklahoma
The Red Raiders are focused more intently this cycle on recruiting the state of Oklahoma, a tactic that makes sense geographically and culturally for Texas Tech, and it's paid off with three pledges now. Thomas added his name to the Tech class on June 20th over an offer from Kansas State. A high school running back who gained 238 yards in a game last season, the Lawton product doesn't appear to have ideal size for the position, but needs to work hard on learning the technical aspects of the position, especially as it regards his pad level, which is often less than ideal. His athleticism, however, is not in question, making him a nice pick up for Texas Tech in a year when Texas defensive tackle talent isn't as strong as normal.
Jah'Shawn Johnson, Ennis (Texas) safety
5'10 | 172 pounds | *** | no. 91 safety nationally | no. 130 player in Texas
The Ennis product announced his commitment to the Red Raiders on Twitter on August 12 over offers from Arizona State, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma State, TCU, and Washington, among others. Landing Johnson is a significant coup for the Red Raiders because head-to-head wins over defensive players targeted by the Horned Frogs are an extremely positive sign given how well TCU head coach Gary Patterson evaluates defensively and the fact that Texas Tech is battling to match TCU on the recruiting trail.
What Johnson lacks in size and frame he makes up for with reported 4.42 speed in the 40 and good ball skill to match solid instincts. He's also a playmaker for Ennis, playing wide receiver and safety and handling kick and punt return duties, in addition to backing up both the starting quarterback and running back.
Connor Wilson, Argyle (Texas) safety
6'1 | 200 pounds | *** | no. 106 safety nationally | no. 156 player in Texas
Wilson originally committed to Kansas State several days before teammate Sam Sizelove added his name to the Wildcat class, but Wilson ended up decommitting from Kansas State and switching his pledge to Texas Tech on September 17.
In 2012, Wilson had an impressive season, aided by his nose for the football, collecting 128 tackles, intercepting 8 passes, breaking up 5 more, and recovering 4 fumbles.
Dakota Allen, Humble (Texas) Summer Creek linebacker
6'1 | 220 pounds | *** | no. 28 linebacker nationally | no. 98 player in Texas
One of the biggest commitments in the class based on the competition the Red Raiders faced for his services, Allen committed in the middle of August over offers from the likes of Colorado, Illinois, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, and TCU. The Horned Frogs were thought to be the other finalist.
On the short side for a linebacker at just under 6'1, Allen didn't test particularly well at a SPARQ combine in the 40, running a 4.79, but does have a 41-inch vertical leap. As with many players who have legitimate 40 times, Allen appears to play faster in pads than his listed time and is a threat off the edge for Summer Creek, as he can dip his shoulder to take the edge or hit opponents with a quick inside move.
A good wrap-up tackler who can move laterally against the run to leverage running backs, Allen has the look of a hard-nosed, physical football player who consistently plays with his motor running hot.
Joseph Clark, Tyler (Texas) Chapel Hill safety
5'9 | 180 pounds | *** | no. 158 safety nationally | no. 293 player in Texas
The second of three safeties taken in the class, Clark picked Texas Tech in late July over offers from Air Force, McNeese State, and Texas State. Also a running back at Chapel Hill, Clark has the build for that position, but has the striking ability of a pure safety -- he's effective around the line of scrimmage slicing through the line in run support, where he form tackles opponents with a powerful lower body as well as lay big hits along the sideline in the passing game. With his long hair, stocky build, quick feet, and ability to fly into plays as a blur before throwing his body around, it's hard not to think of Steelers safety Troy Polamalu. That's not to say that his upside is nearly that high, but it seems safe to say that Polamalu would appreciate Clark's efforts on film.
Keland McElrath, Clarksdale (Miss.) Coahoma CC defensive tackle
6'5 | 290 pounds | *** | N/R | N/R
A Texas Tech pledge in late September, McElrath chose the Red Raiders over offers from Kansas, Kentucky, and West Virginia after signing with UT-Martin in 2011 and Alabama A&M the following season. Unfortunately, McElrath doesn't have any film available publicly, but it's clear from his trajectory that he put something on tape while at Coahoma that has intrigued BCS-level schools and significantly elevated his stock from where it was coming out of high school. His commitment fills a major need for Texas Tech at the defensive tackle position.
Drew Sarvary, Tyler (Texas) JC offensive tackle
6'6 | 310 pounds | *** | no. 19 junior college offensive tackle nationally | no. 12 junior college player in Texas
The Red Raiders were one of the first schools to offer the Florida native back in early August. South Florida, East Carolina, and Middle Tennessee State followed and were joined at some point by Memphis and North Texas. Texas Tech needed to find an offensive tackle in this class who could contribute early outside, but it's not clear Sarvary is that player -- he plays a lot of guard for Tyler and doesn't appear particularly powerful despite a thick build or agile, though it's harder to say about the former because he's not on the move much getting to the second level.
National Signing Day is still more than four months away. Verbal commitments are non-binding and change frequently.
For more on Texas Tech Red Raiders recruiting, visit Viva the Matadors.