Texas Tech Football: 2018 captains reflect team strengths

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 03: Shock Linwood
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 03: Shock Linwood /

The Texas Tech football team has elected six players as captains for the 2018 season and it is not coincidence that these selections are a direct reflection of this team’s unique strengths.

The Texas Tech football players have spoken.  Saturday, the Red Raiders announced that six members of the 2018 team have been elected as team captains by their teammates.

It is interesting that this year’s group of captains comes almost solely from the position groups most expected to be strengths.   Perhaps that is because in previous years, there has not been as great of a divide between the experience and expectations among the strongest position groups and the ones that face the most uncertainty.

The six captains are linebacker Dakota Allen, safety Jah’Shawn Johnson, defensive tackle Broderick Washington, offensive linemen Travis Bruffy and Terence Steele and receiver Ja’Deion High.  That group consists of three seniors and three juniors and three offensive and three defensive players.

Allen and Johnson have been elected captains for the second-consecutive season and are expected to anchor a revitalized defense.  Additionally, the linebackers and defensive backs are the two deepest and most talented position groups on the team.  Thus, it makes sense for the senior leaders of each position group to be named captains.

Meanwhile, Washington has been a contributor on the defensive line since his redshirt freshman campaign in 2016.  Last season, Washington started all 13 games at defensive tackle earning honorable mention all-Big 12 honors from the league’s coaches.

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On the other side of the ball, Texas Tech is expected to have one of the strongest offensive lines in the Big 12 making the selection of the team’s two starting tackles a logical move.  Steele has started all 25 games of his college career while Bruffy started eleven games at left tackle in 2017.

The only captain from a position group in flux is High, a senior receiver from Hereford. But looking closer at High’s journey at Texas Tech, it is easy to see why he is being looked to for leadership this season.

The veteran is entering his sixth season as a Red Raider after redshirting as a true freshman in 2013 and receiving a medical redshirt for the 2016 season that he lost to injury after just three games.  As a former walk-on who has had to earn everything at the collegiate level, it is clear that Ja’Deion High has the respect of his teammates and his veteran presence could be critical for an inexperienced group of receivers.

The most glaring difference between this year’s group of captains and the captains of years past is the omission of a quarterback.  This is the first season since 2015 and only the second time in Kingsbury’s run at Texas Tech that a quarterback has not been a team captain.

Previous quarterbacks to be named captains include Davis Webb (2014), Patrick Mahomes (2016) and Nic Shimonek (2017).  Shimonek’s selection last season was notable because he was nominated by his teammates despite having zero starts to his credit.

Despite having one more career start than Shimonek did when he was elected to be a captain, presumed starting quarterback McLane Carter was not selected by his teammates.  Perhaps that can be partially attributed to the fact that Carter is not a senior.

But the more likely explanation is that the three-way QB battle between Carter, Jett Duffey and Alan Bowman kept the team from knowing its quarterback until recently and could have allowed the locker room to have divided loyalties to the different candidates.   That is not to suggest that the Red Raiders have a QB controversy or that the team will not support its starter, but it is clear that Carter is not as entrenched in the minds of his teammates as Shimonek was in 2017.

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This is a unique group of captains.  Not only is it the largest group Kingsbury has had but it is the first group to include three defensive players and only the second to feature two offensive linemen. (Le’Raven Clark and Jared Kaster were captains in 2015.)  But given that the 2018 Texas Tech football team could look different than any team in Kingsbury’s tenure, this group of captains makes perfect sense.