Texas Tech football: Red Raiders add JUCO safety to 2020 roster

The Texas Tech football team has quite a few questions at safety so new JUCO commit Cam White could be a potential answer.

It’s not wise to get too terribly excited about JUCO commits.  But the latest Texas Tech football addition, Cam White, might be different.

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports that the 6-foot, 195-pounder has committed to the Red Raiders helping to solidify a position that is one of the most concerning on the roster.  But should we place too much hope in a JUCO transfer?

The truth is that most JUCO players never turn out to be more than role players at the FBS level.  In fact, Texas Tech has seen more than its share of prized JUCO recruits flame out (Josh Keys, Javon Bell, Jaylon Lane).

There are just so many reasons that JUCO recruits can struggle to make it when they jump to the next level.  First of all, they’ve spent two years (for the most part) in football programs that are deficient when it comes to the strength and nutrition programs they have for their athletes.

Then there is the questionable level of coaching that they have received in the JUCO ranks.  The Netflix docuseries Last Chance U has shown us that reality in all its glory over the last four years.

Of course, we also have to allow for the warts and flaws that necessitated the JUCO route in the first place.  Whether it be academic concerns or football weaknesses, JUCO players have to overcome some challenges in their development that could hinder their ability to play at a Power 5 conference.

But now that I’ve been enough of a wet blanket for one day, let’s look at why Cam White is one of the most intriguing JUCO players Tech has landed for quite some time.  And the best place to start is with his offer list coming out of high school.

Before heading to Northwest Mississippi Community College, he was one of the hottest targets in the class of 2017.  A Mississippi native, he signed with Ole Miss over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi State, and Iowa State among others.  Yes, please.  At that time, he was rated the No. 30 athlete in the country and the No. 9 player in Mississippi.

I couldn’t find any information on why he had to go the JUCO route but as a freshman, he made 27 tackles, three interceptions, and three pass breakups for Northwest Mississippi.  Last fall, he came up with 55 tackles and three pass breakups.

Now the question is whether or not he will be capable of providing an immediate upgrade for the Red Raiders at a position that is a huge concern as we look towards 2020.  The presumed starters at this point are seniors JaMarcus Ingram and Thomas Leggett, both of whom have proven to be serviceable at best thus far in their careers.

Ingram transferred to Lubbock last offseason after spending three years at Utah State (including one redshirt season).  As a backup defensive back and special teams contributor, he registered 11 tackles and one interception.  But keep in mind that he didn’t arrive until halfway through fall camp so the hope is that a full year in Tech’s system, which is essentially the same as the one he ran at Utah State given that Keith Patterson was his defensive coordinator at both schools, will help him be ready to shoulder a greater portion of the load this year.

Meanwhile, Leggett is a hard-nosed, big-hitting safety.  The problem is that he isn’t all that reliable as a coverage man.  It might make more sense for him to play the “spur” DB/LB hybrid position but this year’s roster is long on corners and short on safeties meaning that the “spur” will likely be either Damarcus Fields or Adrian Frye, the latter of whom failed miserably at his attempt to move to safety last fall.

Leggett did finish 2019 with 42 tackles, good for sixth on the team.  He also had six stops for loss, most by a defensive back.  That’s why he would be more of a natural at the “spur”.  Now, one has to think that White will give him competition for the starting job at strong safety, which can only help the defense as a whole.  And if White is the better coverage player, perhaps that allows Patterson to move Leggett around the defense and put him in positions that could maximize what he does best, attack the ball carrier.

Cam White didn’t make any Twitter announcement about his commitment.  There was no highlight video or sharp editing work done to let the world know what his next step is.

That makes one believe that he is a player who has a no-nonsense approach to life and the game of football.  Hopefully, he also proves to be one that can be part of the solution to what is arguably this team’s greatest question as we head into the summer.


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