Last week we unveiled our picks for a Red Raider football dream team, a collection of some of the greatest names in the history of Texas Tech; Crabtree, Holub, Anderson, Thomas and Rivera, just to name a few.
But one name transcends the rest. One name is synonymous with the underdog, underestimated nature of Texas Tech. According to you, and we tend to agree, Wes Welker is the greatest Red Raider of all time.
Surprisingly enough, nobody wanted Welker coming out of Heritage Hall High School in Oklahoma City, Okla. Though small in stature, even back then he was a dominant football player. In 1998, as a junior, Welker led his team to win the 2A State Football championship with three touchdowns, over 200 all-purpose yards, a 47-yard field goal and an interception.
His senior year, Welker was named The Daily Oklahoman All-State Player of the Year and Oklahoma State Player of the Year by USA Today. Yet, despite all the accolades and the performances to back them up, Welker was without any D-1 scholarship offers. Coaches everywhere thought he was too small to be effective in college, even though he scored 90 touchdowns in four years on all three sides of the ball. Tech was the only program to offer Welker a chance.
The kid from Oklahoma who was too small and too slow to play against major competition started as a freshman for Mike Leach at Tech and left four years latter with NCAA career records for punt return yards (1,761) and punt return touchdowns (eight) and as Texas Tech’s recordholder for catches (259) and receiving yards (3,069). Three times he earned first-team All-Big 12 honors.
Surely after productive high school AND college careers he’d be drafted into the pros, right? Wrong. Undrafted in 2004, Welker signed a free agent deal with the San Diego Chargers only to be released after the first game of the season. Head coach Marty Schottenheimer later called the decision the “biggest mistake I ever made.”
After an extended stay in Miami, Welker joined the New England Patriots where he played from 2007-2012. As a Patriot, Welker set an NFL record by reaching 500 career receptions in just 70 games and topped 1,000 yards receiving in five out of six seasons. He and Tom Brady also tied the NFL record for longest touchdown pass (99 yards) in 2011.
Now, going into his second season with the Denver Broncos and tenth in the NFL, Welker has played in 152 games (three Super Bowls), caught 841 passes for 9,358 yards, 491 first-downs and 48 touchdowns. Clearly, Wes Welker can’t be stopped.