Texas Tech football: Red Raiders battling Horns for 5-star WR

Sep 24, 2022; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive lineman Jaylon Hutchings (95) grabs Texas Longhorns quarterback Hudson Card (1) during a game at Jones AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron E. Martinez/Austin American-Statesman via USA TODAY NETWORK
Sep 24, 2022; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive lineman Jaylon Hutchings (95) grabs Texas Longhorns quarterback Hudson Card (1) during a game at Jones AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron E. Martinez/Austin American-Statesman via USA TODAY NETWORK /

In the first year of the Joey McGuire era of Texas Tech football, a new culture and identity were established as the Red Raiders fought through numerous injuries (especially at the QB position) and one of the toughest schedules in the country to finish 8-5 on the season, well surpassing any preseason projections.

For the McGuire era to reach the next stratosphere though, the magnetic head coach is going to have to increase the talent coming into his locker room.  Given McGuire’s reputation among Texas high school football coaches and his undeniable interpersonal skills, Red Raider fans are now dreaming of what he could eventually do on the recruiting trail, and this offseason those hopes are centering around the recruitment of 5-star wide receiver Micah Hudson, who appears to have narrowed his choices to Texas Tech and Texas.

Though no official announcement of a final two schools has come from Hudson’s camp, multiple outlets are reporting that his choice will come down to one of the two soon-to-be former conference rivals.  Recently, On3 Recruits Tweeted that the Lake Belton, Texas product will take an official visit to Tech on June 9 and Tech on June 23.  Meanwhile, other sources are reporting that Hudson’s visit to Lubbock will take place later in the month but still prior to his trip to Austin.

Ideally, Tech would love to have Hudson on campus after his visit to Lubbock.  However, just the fact that such a high-profile player is visiting at all is noteworthy.  After all, Tech has never landed a 5-star high school recruit in football and players of Hudson’s regard almost never give the Red Raiders a second thought.

That’s likely to change with McGuire at the helm, though.  Given the fact that virtually every high school coach in the state looks up to McGuire for working his way from the prep ranks to being a Big 12 head coach, the second-year Red Raider leading man is able to get in front of the caliber of players that no other coach in program history ever has.

That access to high-end talent was evident in McGuire’s first recruiting cycle when he guided Tech to the No. 46 overall high school class in the nation (according to 247Sports.com) despite being on the job for only two months when the early signing period commenced.  That class was the program’s highest-ranked since 2016 but many on the South Plains believe that McGuire’s future classes will rank much higher now that he’s built a solid foundation for his program.

For example, his 2023 high school recruiting haul finished 37th nationally and 5th in the conference.  Now, the McGuire Staff is hard at work compiling the 2024 class and, though it is early in the process, Tech sits 22nd in the nation and tops in the Big 12 thanks to nine current commitments.

With all due respect, none of the players McGuire has already landed in this class hold a candle to Hudson in the eyes of the recruiting services.  The 6-foot, 190-pound wide receiver is the No. 5 player in the nation and the No. 2 player in Texas as well as the No. 2 receiver in the U.S.A. according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

In addition to Tech and UT, he has offers from some of the game’s most prestigious programs such as Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.  So, of course, no one outside of Texas Tech circles actually believes Hudson will end up in Lubbock.

The national bias towards Texas is understandable given the recruiting prowess of the two programs in the battle.  However, this is not Matt Wells or Kliff Kingsbury leading the charge for Tech.  It’s Joey McGuire, who happens to be one of the most dynamic and personable head coaches in the country.  What’s more, Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian isn’t necessarily thought of as the next coming of Mack Brown when it comes to personality and charm.

Still, Texas has a reputation and prestige that overshadow all but a handful of programs in the nation.  However, the shine on the Horns is not as bright as it once was given nearly a decade of mediocrity down on the 40 acres where the ditches are littered with former 5-star recruits who failed to live up to their potential.

Meanwhile, thanks to recent first-round NFL Draft picks such as Patrick Mahomes, Jordyn Brooks, and Tyree Wilson, Tech is starting to become recognized as a program that can help players achieve their professional goals as well as any other program can.  Maybe that perception will help sway Hudson’s decision.

We must also consider the looming N.I.L. battle that will undoubtedly factor into this recruiting saga.  Will the money brokers behind the Red Raiders’ N.I.L. efforts be willing to step up and be competitive with what we can only assume will be a lucrative opportunity for Hudson in Austin?  That played a huge factor in December of 2021 when current UT quarterback Quinn Ewers picked UT over Tech after visiting both programs upon leaving Ohio State, where he signed as a 5-star player out of South Lake, Texas.

Ewers is estimated by some to have pocketed somewhere near $1 million in N.I.L. deals in Austin on the heels of a $1.4 million deal he signed straight out of high school.  Those are waters that Tech has never been willing or able to swim in.  But with McGuire having the full backing of Tech’s biggest financial boosters, that story could change.

Of course, it seems unlikely that a receiver, even one as sought-after as Hudson, would demand the type of financial commitment that a QB of Ewers’ recognition and celebrity does.  Still, this is not going to be a recruiting effort that Tech will be able to succeed in without stepping up to compete in the N.I.L. arena.

How the pursuit of Hudson ultimately plays out will tell us a lot about McGuire’s recruiting abilities.  Should Tech shock the rest of the country and secure Hudson’s services, it would send waves throughout the high school and college football world and it might open the door to even more blue-chip prospects for Tech.  And the thought of Joey McGuire coaching a team of All-Americans should scare the water out of the rest of the NCAA.