One of the biggest tasks Texas Tech football head coach Joey McGuire must accomplish this offseason is to find a way to replace the productivity of All-Big 12 defensive end, Tyree Wilson, who is headed to the NFL Draft after amassing seven sacks and 14 tackles for loss in only ten games this fall. While no one player is going to do for the 2023 Red Raiders what Wilson did this season, the more options that defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter has to work with, the better the odds will be that Tech can maintain its ability to rush the passer moving forward.
Monday, another intriguing name was added to the mix for Tech’s pass rush when Syracuse outside linebacker Steve Linton announced his intention to transfer to the Red Raiders.
A 6-foot-5, 215-pound native of Dublin, Georgia, Linton was a disruptive force off the edge for the Orange this season. In 11 games, he racked up 3.5 sacks and 6.0 tackles for loss as part of his 22 tackles. That was by far the best season of his four-year Syracuse career as he entered the fall with only 1.5 career sacks.
In the class of 2019, Linton was an under-the-radar recruit. Ranked the No. 88 player in Georgia and the No. 60 weakside defensive end in the nation, he picked Syracuse over offers from Arizona State, Missouri, Baylor, South Florida, Louisville, Central Florida, and others.
As a true freshman, Linton appeared in only one game meaning that, thanks to the free 2020 COVID-19 year, he will have two years of eligibility with the Red Raiders.
It will be fun to see how DeRuyter deploys Linton in his aggressive scheme. He will likely be playing a role similar to what we saw Jesiah Pierre play this year. The former Florida transfer came on as the year progressed to finish with 40 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 7.0 tackles for loss.
That veteran duo will potentially offset a young group of Red Raider defensive ends next fall. In place of Wilson, freshmen Joseph Adedire and Isaac Smith got meaningful playing time and both players flashed signs of being future pass-rushing forces.
Adedire ended the year with 19 tackles (3.5 for loss) and a sack. The Mansfield, Texas native is just tapping into his potential and could be a breakout player next season after a full offseason in the Red Raiders’ strength and conditioning program.
The same could be said for Smith, an Oklahoma native who opened some eyes in the final few games of his redshirt freshman season. With 11 tackles and a sack in Tech’s last three games, the lanky youngster is poised for an increased role in 2023.
Getting after the passer is something that is imperative in the game of football. Thus, continually adding players who can wreak havoc in the backfield is a must.
That’s why the addition of Linton is a nice win for McGuire in the transfer portal. By adding yet another athletic pass rusher, he’s given his program one more option when it comes to building its pass rush. Here’s hoping that the 2023 Red Raider pass rush will be able to replace Tyree Wilson by relying on the strength of its numbers.