Texas Tech football: Surprises from the week-one depth chart

LUBBOCK, TX - OCTOBER 22: General view of fireworks during the National Anthem before the game between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Oklahoma Sooners on October 22, 2016 at AT
LUBBOCK, TX - OCTOBER 22: General view of fireworks during the National Anthem before the game between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Oklahoma Sooners on October 22, 2016 at AT /
1 of 4

The Texas Tech football team has released its first depth chart of the 2019 season and there are a few surprises that stand out.

Like the people of Israel celebrated when Moses came down from Mout Sinai with the Ten Commandments in the book of Exodus, Texas Tech football fans rejoice each year when the first depth chart is released.  This annual right of passage came back around on Monday as we got our first look at where the roster stands just five days ahead of Saturday’s season opener against Montana State.  (You can see the entire depth chart below in the Tweet from Carlos Silva Jr. of the Avalanche-Journal.)

Of course, this depth chart is not definitive and could change by the time Saturday rolls around. After all, there are four starting jobs considered virtual tossups as the term “or” separates the players listed at that position.

But of course, there were some foregone conclusions.  As long as his right arm did not fall off over the summer, sophomore Alan Bowman was never in danger of losing the starting QB job.  But the race for the backup job remains unsettled as junior Jett Duffey “or” grad transfer Jackson Tyner are listed at the No. 2 spot.  Should Tech jump out to a huge lead against its FCS opponent this weekend, expect both to see action in what could essentially be a continuation of this fall’s race for the job of Bowman’s understudy.

There are no surprises along the offensive line where the four returning starters from last season (Travis Bruffy, Terence Steele, Madison Akamnonu, and Jack Anderson) are all listed as first-teamers.  Meanwhile, sophomore Dason Deaton appears to have won the starting center job as was expected throughout the offseason.

The running back position has sophomore Ta’Zhawn Henry (the roster’s leading returning RB from 2018) as the No. 1 option.  However, Wells has said all offseason that Henry, redshirt freshman SaRodorick Thompson, and grad transfer Armand Shyne will all play critical roles this year so who sits atop the depth chart is immaterial.

The outside receiver spots also seem to be laid out like we assumed they would be.  Junior T.J. Vasher is listed as the starting “Z” receiver and though the chart reads “or Kesean Carter” after Vasher, there’s not one person who believes Carter has surpassed Tech’s top returning receiver after moving to outside receiver for the first time ever at the start of camp.

Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Erik Ezukanma is set to make his first career start at the “X” position.  The former 4-star recruit from Ft. Worth is a player that has received tons of hype during the offseason and Red Raider fans are anxious to see what he can do this fall.

On the other side of the ball, the three-man defensive line of Eli Howard, Broderick Washington, and Nick McCann is no shock.  Of that trio, McCann is the only player who is not a two-year returning starter.

The same can be said of the linebacking corps where Jordyn Brooks and Riko Jeffers are the starters as we knew they would be all along.  That duo combined for 146 tackles last season and will be one of the best LB tandems in the Big 12 in 2019.

In the secondary, two grad transfers have earned starting roles.  Cal transfer Evan Rambo is the No. 1 “Spur” which is a combination linebacker/safety.  Meanwhile, Penn State transfer Zech Mephearson has won a starting cornerback spot.  The best news is that both have two years of eligibility remaining.

The rest of the secondary is no surprise either with Douglas Coleman and Adrian Frye starting at the two safety spots and Desmond Smith listed ahead of DaMarcus Fields at the other corner spot.  Given that the Big 12 places such a burden on defensive backs, we should expect to see plenty of snaps for other players like John Davis, Adam Beck, Thomas Leggett, and new grad transfer Ja’Marcus Ingram.

The special teams look to be a bit of a tossup right now with only freshman Austin McNamara having secured the job at the No. 1 punter.  It appears that a place kicking competition could play out early in the season with Trey Wolffe, Jonathan Garibay, and Gabriel Lozano all still in the mix.

Though most of the two-deep is what we expected it to be, there were a few spots that jumped out as surprises in week one.  Let’s take a look at some of the positions where unexpected players appear to have won starting jobs.