Texas Tech Football: LB D’Vonta Hinton Leaves The Program

LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 14: Charles Jones
LUBBOCK, TX - NOVEMBER 14: Charles Jones /

Junior Linebacker D’Vonta Hinton is no longer with the Texas Tech football program, according to head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

The much-maligned Texas Tech defense suffered a loss on Monday with the departure of junior linebacker D’Vonta Hinton.  The news was broken on Twitter by Don Williams of the “Lubbock Avalanche-Journal” and others following Kliff Kingsbury’s weekly teleconference with reporters.

The news of Hinton’s departure is disappointing considering the potential he flashed at a position the Red Raiders have historically struggled to man with quality players.  As a freshman in 2015, Hinton was a pleasant surprise racking up 53 tackles and two sacks in 13 games.

However, last season saw Hinton fall out of favor with the coaching staff.  A calf injury forced him to miss seven games and while he was sidelined, rumors began circulate about his standing within the program.  His output in 2016 dropped to just 18 tackles and his absence was felt by a Texas Tech defense that was the lowest-ranked unit in the nation.

Despite participating in spring practices this year, Hinton was unable to regain the confidence of his coaches.  He missed a significant portion of fall camp for unspecified off-field reasons leading many to speculate that his departure was imminent.

On Monday, that eventuality came to fruition.

Fortunately, Texas Tech finds itself in the unusual position of having significant depth at linebacker to replace D’Vonta Hinton.  Sophomore middle linebacker Jordyn Brooks, a freshman all-Big 12 performer from last season, is set to command the Red Raider defense again this year.  Meanwhile, true freshman Rikko Jeffers has been impressive enough in fall camp to earn the role of backup to Brooks.

Both Brooks and Jeffers are better suited physically to play in the middle of the defense.  While Hinton is just 5-foot-9 and 221-pounds, Brooks is 6-foot-1 and 240-pounds while Jeffers checks in at an impressive 6-foot-2, 245-pounds.

Hinton displayed a knack for finding the football but when he was tasked with making one-on-one stops against larger running backs, he often surrendered extra yards after contact or was unable to make the tackle at all.  Thus, it is likely the he may not have seen a ton of action this year as the Texas Tech coaches look to get bigger and more physical against the run.  Still, his departure does hurt the depth at one of the most important positions on the team.

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Fortunately, the emergence of Jeffers and the presence of other linebackers like Dakota Allen, Jonathan Picone, Jamile Johnson, and Brayden Stringer likely made the decision to part ways with D’Vonta Hinton easier for the Texas Tech coaching staff.  In years past, losing a player of this caliber would be devastating but the 2017 Texas Tech football team is sufficiently equipped in the middle of its defense to absorb this loss with minimal impact.