1. Austin McNamara
Austin McNamra has been punting footballs for the program since 2019 but it feels longer than that. As a freshman, McNamara changed special teams for the program averaging 45 yards per punt that season. He continued to flip the field the next three seasons, picking up school records along the way.
In 2020 McNamara booted a 87-yard punt against West Virginia, a Big 12 and Tech single-game record. The following season he had eight punts of 50 yards or more in a game against Oklahoma State, an FBS record and school and Big 12 record. This past season marked his fourth consecutive being named All-Big 12 and once again being recognized as one of the best punters in the nation.
Now entering his super-senior season, the expectations remain the same for McNamara. Punters are easy to look over, but in Lubbock it is hard for scouts to avoid noticing a kid that can boot 50-yard punts inside the 10 religiously. A punter who is that consistent can flip the field every time he steps on it on 4th down.
Trey Wolff signed with the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent and is expected to compete for the starting kicking job. The same could happen for McNamara if he has a great final season. With a leg as good as his, some team will give him a call after this season.
2. Malik Dunlap
Over the past few seasons the Red Raiders have acquired a handful of defensive backs who have turned the program around on defense. One of the best finds is Malik Dunlap, who spent three years at N.C. State as the Wolfpack emerged as a contender in the ACC. Now entering his third season as a Red Raider, Dunlap is looking to put together another All-Big 12 season.
After an injury-filled 2021 season, Dunlap became one of the team’s best defensive backs last year. He started 11 games at corner and had a career high 13 pass deflections. At the end of the season he ranked 31st in the FBS for passes defended. He also had an interception along with 33 tackles. Dunlap was named All-Big 12 second team to end the year.
At six-foot-three with great ball skills, Dunlap has the size and ability to get most scouts talking if he delivers in 2023. Finding corners who can keep up with receivers and play the ball can be hard to come by when most young players want to go for interceptions.
Marquis Waters and Adrian Frye signed with NFL teams as undrafted free agents and Dunlap could have the same future after his career at Tech. Tim DeRuyter has the Red Raider defense heading in the right direction and right now Dunlap is one of the leaders at the head of the class. Another All-Big 12 season paired with more turnovers could mean an NFL future for him.