Texas Tech Football: Antione Wesley Emerging At Inside Receiver

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 25: Thomas Cletcher
ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 25: Thomas Cletcher /

One of the biggest issues Texas Tech needs to address this spring is figuring out who will step up at inside receiver and after a position switch, Antoine Wesley is doing just that.

No position on the football field is more synonymous with Texas Tech than inside receiver.  The Red Raider legacy of star slot receivers goes back to Wes Welker in the early 2000’s and has been continued by  the likes of Danny Amendola, Robert Johnson, Jace Amaro, Jakeem Grant and most recently Keke Coutee.

But with the graduation of both starting inside receivers from a season ago, Coutee and Cam Batson, the Red Raiders find themselves in an unusual position; looking for answers at the offense’s feature position.  The matter of talent at the position is not a concern.  In fact, there may be more viable options at inside receiver than at any other position on the roster.

The challenge, however, it for Kliff Kingsbury and his staff to sort our just which receiver they will be able to hitch their wagon to.  Thus far in spring practice, a dark-horse candidate has taken the lead in the competition for a starting role.

Antoine Wesley, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound junior from Cibolo, Texas, who was moved from outside to inside receiver this offseason has been the first player to emerge from the team’s gaggle of receivers and has distinguished himself as an interesting option in the slot.

"“Antione was initially an outside guy and he’s still trying to adjust to the move.” Kingsbury said following last weekend’s scrimmage in Midland. “You know, he’s a big rangy guy who can really have a big target for for those QB’s.”"

The prospect of having such a big receiver at the “Y” inside receiver is interesting considering the position has almost exclusively been manned by diminutive receivers with explosive speed and quickness.  Antoine Wesley could bring about a different dimension to an offense that might look noticeably different with the addition of new offensive coordinator Kevin Johns, who is known for his penchant for running the ball out of the spread offense.  Wesley’s size could help him be an effective blocker in the run game making the offense more versatile than it has been in recent seasons.

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Should Wesley earn a feature role in the offense, he would be the biggest receiver to play in the slot for Texas Tech since tight end Jace Amaro in 2013.  That experiment worked wonderfully for the Red Raiders.

A matchup nightmare due to his size and speed, Amaro finished the season with 106 receptions for 1,352 yards and seven scores.  While Wesley weighs about fifty pounds less than Amaro did, he could present similar mismatches for defenses.  He could have the ability to outmuscle corners on possession routes such as slants, curls and outs and he would likely prove to be too fast for linebackers or safeties to cover him one-on-one.

In the Midland scrimmage, Wesley had the best day of any receiver on the field.  He grabbed nine balls for 119 yards and a touchdown, the only receiving touchdown of the day for the Red Raiders.

The move inside could be a fresh start for Wesley who has just ten career receptions for 137 yards in his college.  Had he remained at outside receiver, he would have likely been resigned to a backup role behind sophomore T.J. Vasher and junior Quan Shorts (though Shorts’ prospects of earning a starting role could have been damaged by his indefinite suspension following a Sunday morning arrest.)

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Now at inside receiver, Antione Wesley could emerge as an unexpected focal point to the Texas Tech offense this fall.  Of course, there is a long way to go until kickoff against Ole Miss in September but one thing is for certain, Antione Wesley has already begun to make his case for a starting role in the offense.