Texas Tech football: Former Red Raider Joel Filani hired as WR coach

Joel Filani of Texas Tech runs with a reception during the 4th quarter against Alabama at the AT&T Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas on January 2, 2006. Alabama won 13-10. (Photo by G. N. Lowrance/Getty Images)
Joel Filani of Texas Tech runs with a reception during the 4th quarter against Alabama at the AT&T Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas on January 2, 2006. Alabama won 13-10. (Photo by G. N. Lowrance/Getty Images) /

The Texas Tech football program has hired former Red Raider wide receiver Joel Filani as its new receivers coach following the departure of Jovon Bouknight who left to coach receivers at Oregon.

Texas Tech football fans hardly had time to learn the name of Jovon Bouknight before the wide receivers coach hired by Matt Wells to his initial staff left West Texas Wednesday for the same position at Oregon.  That has opened the door for a much more familiar name to return to the program as former standout wide receiver Joel Filani has been hired to replace Bouknight.

Since 2016, Filani has coached receivers at North Texas under former Red Raider assistant coach Seth Littrell.  Prior to that, he coached receivers under Mike Leach at Washington State and was a graduate assistant at Boise State.

Of course, most Red Raider fans remember his prolific playing career in Lubbock.  From 2003-06, the Arizona native amassed 2,626 yards and 23 touchdowns on 175 receptions.


He earned first-team All-Big 12 recognition as both a junior and a senior.  He caught 65 passes for 1,007 yards and eight touchdowns in 2005, and followed that up with 91 receptions for 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns in his senior campaign.

He ranks 10th on the school’s all-time receiving yards list and his 2006 season was the fourth most prolific in Texas Tech football history.  What’s more, his 255 yards against Kansas State in 2005 was a program record until Antoine Wesley bested that with 261 against Houston last September.

But though Texas Tech fans are likely glad to see another Red Raider great return home, there is also frustration over what has happened with the wide receivers coaching position since Wells’ hiring.  Many fans wished to see Wells retain Emmett Jones, who was the wide receivers coach under Kliff Kingsbury and helped produce several NFL receivers including Keke Coutee, Dylan Cantrell, Cam Batson, Derrick Willies and Wesley (who is expected to be selected in this April’s NFL Draft).

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But despite Jones’ reputation as one of the top recruiters in the Big 12, Wells hired Bouknight, who had been at Utah State for ten years working his way from graduate assistant to offensive coordinator.  Now that he has jumped ship after less than three months on the job, it is fair to wonder whether or not it was a mistake to allow Jones to leave, especially given the victories he won over the Red Raiders on the recruiting trail this year.

Currently the wide receivers coach for Kansas, Jones was the sole reason that two critical 2019 prospects, 4-star defensive end Steven Parker and 3-star running back Velton Gardner, both signed with the Jayhawks last week after having been one-time commits to Texas Tech.

Losing out on Parker was particularly painful as he was one of the best defensive end prospects in Texas, which is a position the Red Raiders desperately need to improve.  But despite being born in Lubbock and having family still in the Hub City, Parker decided to follow Jones to Kansas.

Jones, the former head coach at South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas, where Parker is finishing up his senior year, has tremendous connections to the fertile Dallas recruiting grounds.  He was primarily responsible for bringing such players as Da’Leon Ward, Ta’Zhawn Henry, Riko Jeffers, Joseph Wallace and Erik Ezukanma to Lubbock.

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Hopefully, Filani was able to build strong relationships of his own in the high school ranks during his time at North Texas.  That’s because Tech desperately needs to improve on the recruiting trail in the 2020 cycle as it has signed the lowest-rated class in the Big 12 in each of the past two seasons. Here’s hoping that Filani’s second stint in the scarlet and black is as successful as his first was.