Aug 30, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the game against the Southern Methodist Mustangs at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Texas Tech won 41-23. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Tech Youth Movement Going Strong

No team in the Big 12 plays more true freshmen this season than Texas Tech. During the first four games this year, 10 players from the 2013 Red Raider recruiting class spent time on the field; some as starters, and some in mop up duty. Much is made of the youth on the coaching staff, particularly 34-year-old head coach Kliff Kingsbury; but how about the young guys on the field?

Walk-ons Baker Mayfield and Tanner Jacobson, who both joined the team in July, have made appearances as starters this season. That’s right, two 18-year-olds without scholarships are starting games for a Big 12 football team.

Baker Mayfield, quarterback

Games played/started: 4/4

Stats: 99-150 (66 percent), 1120 yards, eight touchdowns, four interceptions; 39 carries, 96 yards, 2.5-yard average, one touchdown.

Why he’s playing: After sophomore Michael Brewer was ruled out of the first few weeks of the season with a back injury, the decision came down to either Mayfield or Davis Webb.

Davis Webb, quarterback

Games played/started: 3/0

Stats: 33-64 (51.6 percent), 514 yards, four touchdowns, four interceptions.

Why he’s playing: Narrowly missing the starting job hasn’t hurt Webb’s chances so far. He’s seen playing time against the last three opponents after Mayfield’s been pulled for rest, injury or sloppy play.

Tanner Jacobson, strong safety/punt returner  

Games played/started: 3/1

Stats: Nine total tackles; two punt returns, 15 yards.

Why he’s playing: Jacobson first appeared on special teams against SMU after punt returner SaDale Foster went down with an injury. Since then, the true freshman walk-on’s been a regular on kickoff coverage and posted his first start against Texas State in place of injured safety J.J. Gaines.

Malik Jenkins, inside linebacker

Games played/started: 4/0

Stats: Five total tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack, one pass breakup.

Why he’s playing: Coaches don’t hesitate to point out Jenkins’ talent. He’s made plays on kickoff coverage and in cleanup duty vs. Stephen F. Austin.

Carlos Thompson, receiver/punt returner

Games played/started: 3/0

Stats: One kick return, 73 yards, two punt returns, 47 yards.

Why he’s playing: Thompson isn’t a big guy, but his speed and agility make him impossible to redshirt. He burst onto the scene with two electrifying kick returns against Stephen F. Austin late in the game as a backup to SaDale Foster.

Zach Barnes, defensive end

Games played/started: 3/0

Stats: One tackle.

Why he’s playing: Barnes serves as a backup to Dartwan Bush at end. He’s another one of those young defenders coaches keep raving about.

Baylen Brown, offensive lineman

Games played/started: 2/0

No statistics available

Why he’s playing: A lack of depth necessitates at least one true freshman play on the line this season, and so far it looks like Brown is that guy. He’s mostly served as a backup to Jared Kaster at center, but when left guard Alfredo Morales went down with an injury against Texas State, Brown stepped in and played more than half a game.

Dylan Cantrell, receiver

Games played/started: 2/0

Stats: Six catches, 56 yards.

Why he’s playing: Cantrell is third on the depth chart behind Jace Amaro and Jordan Davis at inside receiver. A combination of size, hands and quickness requires playing time.

D.J. Polite-Bray, receiver 

Games played/started: 2/0

Stats: One catch, -1 yard.

Why he’s playing: Arguably the fastest receiver Tech has, Polite-Bray keeps getting looks in both relief duty and garbage time, but so far hasn’t had a chance to showcase his speed.

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