Texas Tech Football: 5 “Air Raid” Era Greats That Would Help This Year

LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 14: DeAndre Washington
LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 14: DeAndre Washington /
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Texas Tech football is still a month-and-a-half away and the dog days of summer are officially underway.  As we wait for Big 12 Media Days this week, let’s reminisce about some former Red Raiders from the “Air Raid” era that would help fix the weaknesses on the 2017 team.

The “Air Raid” era of Texas Tech football began in 2000 when former OU offensive coordinator Mike Leach was hired to replace the retired Spike Dykes.  The next 20 years would be the most successful two-decade run in program history.

Overall, Texas Tech has a record of 130-86 under Leach, Tommy Tuberville and Kliff Kingsbury during the “Air Raid” era which is good for a .600 winning percentage. During that time, the Red Raiders have appeared in 14 bowl games (winning nine).

Such success was once thought to be impossible for a program that reached a bowl game just 22 times in the 74 previous seasons.  So naturally, the caliber of player to don the “Scarlet and Black” has increased in the past 17 seasons.

Seventeen Texas Tech Red Raiders have been honored as all-Americans since 2000.  That includes seven first-team honorees.

In addition, 70 Red Raiders have been named to either the first or second-team all-Big 12 squads. So it is an understatement to say that there have been some fantastic players to play for Texas Tech in recent years.

However, this year’s team is lacking star power, at least in the minds of the Big 12 media members.  Only two Red Raiders, inside receiver Keke Coutee and kicker Clayton Hatfield were named to the pre-season all-Big 12 team.

Obviously, there will be players step forward this season to make a name for themselves and the post-season all-Big 12 teams will likely feature more than just two Red Raiders.  But, until that happens, there is a perceived lack of proven star power on the 2017 team. So, let’s look at five players from the “Air Raid” era that would best help this year’s team.

Keep in mind, this is not a list of the greatest players of the last 17 years but rather a look at which would best help to balance out the current roster.  Thus, all-time greats like Michael Crabtree and Wes Welker are not included because the strength of the current team is without question the receiving corps.

So here is the list of the five players we wish could suit up for another season in Lubbock.

DeAndre Washington RB 2011-2015

Current Oakland Raiders’ running back DeAndre Washington is the best pure running back to play at Texas Tech since the Spike Dykes era.  He ended his career as the fifth-leading rusher in school history (highest among any “Air Raid” running back).

The Missouri City, Texas native accumulated 3,411 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns in his career. He was also a threat in the passing game catching 124 passes for 1,091 yards and four more touchdowns.

The 2017 Texas Tech roster is missing a feature running back.  The ground game averaged a meager 3.2 yards per carry last year while no running back eclipsed 428 yards on the season.

What’s more, both of the running backs expected to get the bulk of the carries for Texas Tech, Da’Leon Ward and Demarcus Felton, are yet to prove durable enough to be a lead back.  Both missed at least two games last year leaving the Texas Tech backfield perilously thin.

In addition, the only senior running back on the team, Justin Stockton, missed the spring with concussion concerns and is mulling retirement.  This year’s team could desperately use a workhorse like Washington.

In the second-to-last game of 2011, Washington tore a knee ligament forcing him to redshirt the 2012 season.  He would return to miss only one other game in his career making him one of the most dependable backs in the “Air Raid” era.

Washington was fantastic running between the tackles.  He had superior vision and an exceptional ability to make the first tackler miss, even in tight spaces.

Washington provided the Red Raiders with a go-to option in short yardage situations because he was elusive enough and stout enough to gain the tough yards.  It is yet to be seen who will fulfill that role for this year’s team.

Kliff Kingsbury is likely to use a running back by committee approach in 2017.  Hopefully, Ward, Felton and Stockton will be able to improve the Texas Tech ground game.  But one thing is for certain, there is no one on the roster like DeAndre Washington.