Certainly, the 2023 Texas Tech football team will enter the upcoming season with the weight of expectations not shouldered by this program in a decade. That’s in large part because of the high number of returning contributors from last season’s 8-5 squad that seemed to turn the tide for Tech football.
What’s interesting though is that the Red Raiders don’t necessarily look to be stocked with name-brand players who are going to garner national notoriety in the preseason. Rather, the strength of this team is expected to be its depth with there appearing to be no glaring weaknesses at any position group, at least on paper.
Still, despite the fact that the national pundits aren’t necessarily talking up Tech’s individual players, Red Raider fans are surely excited about what a handful of players could bring to the table come September.
For instance, there is a strong belief that QB Tyler Shough could be an all-conference performer should he be able to stay healthy. After all, he’s 8-0 at Texas Tech in games that he started and did not leave with an injury.
Similarly, his best wide receiver, Jerand Bradley, is also primed to become a star after putting up 744 yards and 6 touchdowns a year ago. In fact, he recently earned preseason All-Big 12 recognition.
On defense, plenty of people know about Tech’s 1-2 punch at defensive tackle. Jaylon Hutchings also received All-Big 12 honors this preseason while Tony Bradford is garnering plenty of attention after a season that saw him rack up 9.0 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in 2022.
Additionally, some newcomers have people in Lubbock talking. Syracuse transfer Steve Linton was one of the stars of spring practice where he caused the Red Raider offense plenty of issues as he rushed the passer off of the edge. Last year, he amassed 6.0 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks, and given that he’s put on 10-15 pounds of good weight and changed positions, many are expecting him to be a significant pass-rush factor this year.
Similarly, big things are expected of wide receiver Drae McRay, a Florida native and transfer from Austin Peay. The 5-foot-9 speedster caught 129 passes for 1,888 yards and 17 TDs combined in the last two years at the FCS level and now it is anticipated that he will bring some much-needed explosiveness to this season’s offense.
On the other hand, there are some key Red Raiders that aren’t being discussed enough. In some instances, those players are just being taken for granted given their reputation for consistency while other players are going to be asked to be key contributors in new ways or for the first time in their Texas Tech football careers.
So let’s take a look at five Red Raiders that we need to be talking about as the fall nears. That’s because each is going to be a huge factor in determining how this season plays out in Lubbock.