Continuing our look at the Texas Tech football all-decade team, we look at the defensive backs, which is never an easy position to play in the Big 12.
I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t a great decade for the Texas Tech football program when it came to play in the secondary. In fact, one of the lowest points in Tech football history illustrated just how far the program had fallen in the defensive backfield.
Back in 2011, the No. 2 Oklahoma State Cowboys came to Lubbock and put the worst beating in the history of Jones Stadium by a visitor on the Red Raiders, 66-6. That day, two Cowboy receivers went for over 100 yards, including two-time Biletnikoff Award winner, Justin Blackmon, who had 6 catches for 103 yards and two scores.
So who did the Red Raiders ask to check one of the most prolific receivers in the history of the Big 12? Cornelius Douglas. Remember, that the 5-foot-9 native of Lawton, OK spent the first two-plus years of his career at inside receiver and only moved to corner full-time as a senior because his team had no other viable options.
It wasn’t fair to ask Douglas to try to check the best receivers in the Big 12 but that’s what the Red Raiders had to do in 2011. Fortunately, the talent in the secondary has been better since then and we didn’t have to see Jakeem Grant or Keke Coutee pull double-duty as defensive backs but it has been a constant struggle for this program to find pass defenders that could hold their own in the nation’s top passing conference.
Since Tech somehow finished the 2013 season ranked 39th nationally against the pass, the program has finished 95th, 112th, 125th, 122nd, 128th, and 128th respectively in passing yards allowed. Some of that burden falls on the pass rush but how many times this decade have we seen opposing receivers running wide open through the Red Raider secondary? Too many to count…especially this fall.
Of course, no conference in the nation abuses its defensive backs like the Big 12. That’s why DeShon Elliott of Texas (2017), Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State (2013), and Prince Amukamara of Nebraska (2010) were the only first-team A.P. All-American defensive backs the conference produced in the decade.
It makes sense for secondaries to struggle in the league that was the epicenter of the spread offense revolution and unfortunately, the program that began that movement, Tech, has been one of the worst in the nation when trying to stop its conference rivals once everyone else in the league decided to go all-in on the spread.
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But despite this program’s struggles to combat flying footballs, there have been some memorable defensive backs to come through Lubbock in the past ten years. So here are our all-decade Texas Tech defensive backs.