Sunday, Matt Wells and the Texas Tech football program lost an important recruiting battle to Oklahoma State when LB Donovan Stephens committed to the Cowboys.
Matt Wells’ struggles on the recruiting trail continued Sunday when Del City, Oklahoma LB Donovan Stephens committed to Oklahoma State. Rated a 3-star player, he was down to a final three of OSU, Tech, and Boise State. Now, he’s in the fold for Mike Gundy’s program leaving the Red Raiders to turn elsewhere for help in solidifying the defense.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder was a key target for the Red Raiders. Rated the No. 43 outside LB in the nation and the No. 14 player in Oklahoma, he was the caliber of player that this program desperately needs to begin adding to the 2021 class. In addition to the Red Raiders, Cowboys, and Broncos, he also holds offers from Baylor, North Texas, Hawaii, and Eastern Michigan.
What makes Stephens such an intriguing target is his combination of size and speed. In addition to football, he is a sprinter on his high school track team running both the 200 and 400 meters. That athleticism would have made him a perfect fit in the attacking defensive system of DC Keith Patterson, who values versatile LBs.
Last season as a junior, he registered 112 total tackles with 16 for loss in 12 games. He also came up with four sacks and four interceptions.
Texas Tech football fans continue to grow frustrated with their program’s continued struggles on the recruiting trail. Currently, Tech sits at just No. 78 nationally and No. 9 in the Big 12.
The good news is that there is a new LB in the mix for 2021 as Saturday, East Missippi Community College LB DeShawn Page verbally committed to Wells’ and Co. But JUCO players are a dicey proposition and adding one who is currently an unranked prospect isn’t going to assuage any concerns.
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Currently, Page is the only LB in Tech’s 2021 recruiting haul. And that’s a position group that must be addressed this year.
Tech will see OLB Riko Jeffers graduate after this year and will have three more key LBs, Krishon Merriweather, Brandon Bouyer-Randle, and Kosi Eldridge play as juniors this fall. Currently, the only underclassman expected to play any meaningful snaps at LB this year is sophomore Tyrique Matthews. What’s more, we don’t know if sophomore Xavier Benson will return to the program at all after taking a leave of absence to tend to his mental health.
The problem is that Tech has extended six offers to OLBs according to 247Sports and all but two have committed elsewhere. What’s more, one of the two still on the board is 4-star Terrence Cooks, who is listed as being “cool” on the Red Raiders by 247. The other is unranked JUCO target Tavareon Scott.
Of course, there are several months remaining until the December early signing period arrives meaning Wells can still salvage a decent class. But with each recruiting loss the likes of the one he suffered on Sunday, Texas Tech football fans will only grow more anxious about the future of the program under his watch.