It feels as if Texas Tech football head coach Joey McGuire and Texas Tech basketball head coach Mark Adams are trying to one-up each other on the recruiting trail in recent days. And that’s great news for Red Raider fans.
On Friday, the same day that Adams received a verbal commitment from coveted transfer Fardaws Aimaq and one day after Adams landed Oregon transfer point guard De’Vion Harmon, McGuire made certain that his program was not to be outdone. Securing a verbal commitment from El Paso, Texas running back LJ Martin, McGuire made waves of his own as he continues to put together what is likely to be the best recruiting class Texas Tech has seen since recruiting rankings became part of the college football landscape.
A 6-foot-1, 195-pound prospect, Martin is rated a 4-star prospect by 247sports. Holding offers from the likes of Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Colorado State, and others, Martin is rated the No. 17 running back in the nation and the No. 44 player in the state of Texas according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
A powerful back who also possesses breakaway speed, Martin was wildly productive in 2021 as a junior. Rushing for 2,737 yards and 29 TDs, he was one of the state’s most dynamic running backs. What’s more, he caught 15 passes for 376 yards and six more touchdowns.
Martin’s commitment further solidifies the depth of the running back position for the Red Raiders. Entering the 2022 season, one could argue quite easily that the running back group for Texas Tech is the strongest position group on the roster.
This fall, SaRodorick Thomspon and Tahj Brooks both return after each posted 500-yard seasons in 2021 while combining for 17 TDs on the ground. Meanwhile, former 4-star recruit Cam’Ron Valdez is set to make a greater impact this season after redshirting last year and carrying the ball only six times. In fact, Valdez was recently mentioned by McGuire as one of the players who impressed the most during the recently completed spring practice sessions.
But after this season, Thompson will be out of eligibility meaning that there will be an opportunity for young players such as Valdez and Martin to fill the sizeable void that Thompson’s departure will leave. Of course, Brooks will be the featured running back in 2023 but the players behind him will have to help carry a significant portion of the load when Thompson is no longer on the roster.
Martin’s addition also continues McGuire’s commitment to recruiting West Texas. Of the 20 players committed to the Red Raiders in the class of 2023, seven come from West Texas. That has to make Red Raider fans happy being as the recruitment of local prospects seemed to wane during both the Kliff Kingsbury and Matt Wells eras.
Texas Tech now has the No. 2 recruiting class in the nation, trailing only Notre Dame. While that number is not likely to hold it is an indication of just how well McGuire is doing on the recruiting front thanks to his infectious personality and his status as a legendary former Texas high school football coach. And by adding a player of Martin’s caliber, Texas Tech has taken another significant step toward building the type of recruiting class that could permanently alter the status of the program.