Is Texas Tech’s Current Recruiting Class Really a Top 20 Class?


For Texas Tech and college football fans everywhere, there are only two seasons: football season and recruiting season.

When the games end and the scoreboards grow dim, die-hard fans begin to follow their school’s recruiting efforts with a vigor that is beginning to resemble their passion for the game itself. And as of now, Texas Tech fans can crow about the fact that their 2016 recruiting class is ranked No. 15 in the nation, but is this ranking deceptive?

The difference between the scoreboard at the stadium and the standings on a computer screen is objectivity. The rules of the game clearly define how each contest is scored, but recruiting rankings are based on numerous undefined criteria.

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Texas Tech’s class ranking is being inflated by the sheer number of recruits who have given verbal pledges for play for Kliff Kingsbury. Of schools with recruiting classes currently ranked in the top 25 nationally, only one Miami (FL) has received more verbal commitments (21) than Texas Tech’s 19. The Hurricanes have the No. 4 class in the nation right now, and the team right behind them at No. 5, Michigan State has the same number of commits as Tech.

Texas Tech is expected to sign a large class of over 25 players in 2016 inflating the class’ ranking. Each recruit is given a score of 1-5 represented by stars. Each player is given an arbitrary numerical score to represent a recruiting expert’s opinion of his talent.

When all of the individual recruit’s scores are added together, the school with the highest total is ranked the highest. Therefore, the large class of the Red Raiders is adding up to a nice overall total, but does this really mean the class is the 15th best in the nation? That depends on what one values in a recruiting class.

Another way to evaluate the quality of a class is to rank classes by the average number of stars per recruit. For example, LSU is ranked No. 1 by with 2,166 total points for its 17 current commits. No. 23 Stanford has only 9 recruits for a total of 1,044 total points. But Stanford has an average player ranking of 3.75 — higher than LSU’s average of 3.71. So who has the better class?

The perception of each class is in the eye of the beholder, or more appropriately, the eye of the biased fan. Texas Tech’s average score per recruit is a meager 2.58, which is good for only 74th in the country. So does this mean that the Red Raiders’ class is weak or overrated? Not necessarily.

What these speculative rankings are unable to do is rate how well each class fits the need of the individual school. For example, some schools want to recruit as many high-profile 4 and 5-star recruits as possible assuming the majority will become All-Americans. Yet, this strategy does not always work.

The list of 4 and 5-star busts at each school is a long as is the list of reasons Tech fans hate Tommy Tuberville. It is always nice to have super-star prospects lined up each year, but Tech does not need stars as much as it needs depth.

The failures of the Tuberville recruiting classes have left the current staff scrambling to add depth to the roster. Consider the position of defensive line as an example.

The departure of 5-star defensive line recruit Delvon Simmons to USC, and the inability of 4-star defensive tackle Michael Starts to even make it onto the field has left the current roster with gaping holes in the defensive line. Other DL recruits who did remain on the roster simply did not pan out to be contributors.

Thus, Tech had to sign four junior college defensive linemen last year. When those four graduate after this season, the Red Raiders will be as thin as a sheet of October ice on a Colorado lake in the defensive trenches.

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Therefore, Tech has made a concerted effort to increase its numbers along the line with solid, but not superstar recruits. Tech currently has commitments from four defensive linemen, all either 2 or 3-star players. Yet, this is what Tech needs.

One superstar player Tech landed in 2015 was signee Breiden Fehoko, a 4-star defensive tackle from Hawaii. But Fehoko will not solve Tech’s current issues with depth. Rather, Tech needs to throw numbers at this position to create a rotation of solid players to help the defense remain fresh.

It is important for Texas Tech fans to understand that the quality of a recruiting class is subjective. With the recent struggles of the athletic program, it is exciting to see Texas Tech ranked No. 15 at anything — even team duck racing. However, informed fans should take a look at each player and figure out how that player helps complete the puzzle that is the overall roster.

The lack of 4-5 star recruits is worrisome to many Red Raider fans. But this year, would we rather Tech sign six, 2-3 star defensive lineman, or one 5-star running back? The answer for most would be the former choice because defensive line is where Tech needs the most reinforcements. Tech tried to land a number of 4-5 star recruits last year and saw little success.

The truth is that Texas Tech University has been overlooked and underrated since it was established in the west Texas outpost of Lubbock (population estimated around 2,100) in 1923. Likewise, Tech will live and die by finding often overlooked players of high character who possess a work ethic inherent in the people who have made a life on the dusty high plains, and a desire who want to prove the experts wrong, just as their university has for the past 92 years.