It is finally game week for the Texas Tech Red Raiders as they kick off the 2023 season this Saturday on the road against the Wyoming Cowboys. Entering year two of the Joey McGuire era, expectations have arguably not been this high in a decade. Several starters are returning on both sides of the ball, but some freshmen could make an impact this season.
While it is not often freshmen are guaranteed a lot of playing time when they first step on campus, it has been the case for Texas Tech in the past. Baker Mayfield, Davis Webb, and Patrick Mahomes all started games as freshmen and everyone knows how each of them turned out. In recent years names like Dadrion Taylor-Demerson and Tahj Brooks received playing time their first year and are now big names on campus heading into 2023.
The Red Raiders had a big recruiting class in McGuire’s first full season. The team’s class was ranked in the top 30 of classes by both Rivals.com and 247 Sports. With over 20 new kids on campus, it remains to be seen if these freshmen see much of the first in their first season. There are a few names to keep an eye on.
Louisiana LB could help the Texas Tech defense
Texas Tech has sent coaches to the bayou for years looking to find talent to come across the state line. Their recent find was linebacker Justin Horne who was ranked as a three-star recruit by both Rivals.com and 247 Sports. He chose Tech over Big 12 foe Baylor as well as home state programs Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana Tech just to name a few.
At six feet exactly, Horne may be a little undersized but fits the mold of the projected starters at linebacker. Tim DeRuyter likes guys who are versatile. If they can stay in the middle, come up in the box, or have the speed to drift back into coverage, they fit. While the expectation is Horne will need to put on size in the weight room, he could be a key piece of this defense in the near future.
The linebacking corps is changing this year with Steve Linton, Jesiah Pierre, and Jacob Rodriquez all expected to start. That does not mean the defense would not be accepting of a new kid on the block. All three of these guys did prove themselves last year, but no one’s job is ever truly safe in college football. If Horne makes some noise in practice, the coaches might just have to consider what they have in him.