Texas Tech Football: Recruiting woes could leave program in peril

The Texas Tech football program is in trouble if its recruiting woes continue.

It hasn’t been a particularly good decade for the Texas Tech football program. Winning seasons have been hard to come by, and what was once seen as a program on the rise under Mike Leach is now just fighting to stay out of the basement. Current coach Matt Wells is on the hot seat entering his third season, and recruits know that. That may partially explain the difficulties his staff seems to be experiencing on the recruiting trail.

The business of recruiting high school prospects has also been made much tougher by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s hard enough to convince an 18-year-old to come to Lubbock to play football, especially when you haven’t been winning. It’s even harder to do that when you can’t even bring them in for a visit to show off the beautiful campus and facilities.

That recruiting dead period will be ending soon, so hopefully, things will change for Texas Tech on that front. But right now, there’s plenty of cause for concern. According to both 247sports.com and Rivals.com, the Red Raiders have a grand total of zero commitments for the 2022 class, making them the only Big 12 school that’s yet to snag a single player.

There’s still several months before signing day, so Wells and his staff have time to fix this. No one in the Big 12 has more than 10 commitments at this point, so there are loads of players who’ve yet to make a decision. But there are also some disturbing trends that lead one to wonder whether this isn’t a sign of bigger problems.

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Can’t Win At Home

Part of the reason why LSU is a staple in the top 10 of recruiting class rankings is because they absolutely own the state of Louisiana. The importance of being able to get recruits out of your own backyard cannot be overstated. But in our case, Texas Tech can’t even seem to win Lubbock.

Of the top 161 players from Texas in the 2022 recruiting class in 247sports’ rankings, only six are from what I would consider to be Texas Tech’s backyard — Lubbock and the surrounding areas, and north through the panhandle. Three of those are from Lubbock itself; one committed to Oklahoma, one to Baylor, and the other to Washington State. One of those three didn’t even get an offer from Tech.

Two of the remaining three players are from Amarillo; one hasn’t been offered by Tech, and the other is set to visit the campus in late June. The last player, a four-star receiver from Spearman, has an offer from Tech as well as most of the top programs in the country, including Alabama and Clemson. So he’s likely to go elsewhere.

This isn’t just an issue this year either. In the 2021 recruiting class, Texas Tech had only 12 high school signees total, and only one was from Lubbock or the surrounding areas. Four-star QB Sawyer Robertson from Coronado High went to Mississippi State. A handful of three-star recruits from Lubbock went elsewhere.

Recruiting West Texas isn’t the be-all-end-all, of course, but it’s your home base. It’s the starting point. It’s going to be hard enough to get guys from DFW, Houston, and Austin to come to Lubbock, and even in your own backyard, you won’t get all of them. But consistently letting the best area recruits get away is simply not a model for success.

Transfer Portal Not Sustainable

Wells has done very well for himself in the transfer portal over the past year, with QB Tyler Shough being the latest big ticket addition. Those moves have helped mold the 2021 roster into one that, at least on paper, looks like it can pull off six or seven wins. With a few good bounces, eight or maybe even nine wins might be possible.

Transfers will continue to be a big part of the college football landscape with the NCAA allowing players to transfer one time without having to sit out a year. It’s a great way to supplement and strengthen your roster, but you also can’t rely on the transfer portal for half of your players either. Being able to sign and develop talent is always going to be paramount.

In his time at Tech, Wells simply has not pulled in particularly strong recruiting classes, even by Tech’s standards. Those rankings aren’t gospel, of course; Leach did just fine with what were largely mediocre-looking classes. But Wells isn’t Leach, and his heavy reliance on the transfer portal and lack of a single 2022 commitment is seriously concerning.

Again, there’s time to correct this. Hopefully we’ll see a wave of commitments come in after recruits are able to start visiting campuses again. Winning games always helps on the recruiting trail too, so a successful 2021 season will go a long way. But another losing season and the effect that would have on recruiting could set this program back significantly. As of right now, the Texas Tech football program is on thin ice.