3 returning freshmen who need to be elite for Texas Tech football in 2024

These three returning freshmen need to be elite for the Texas Tech football team to be at its best in 2024.

Texas Tech defensive lineman Amier Washington (left) sacking California quarterback Fernando Mendoza
Texas Tech defensive lineman Amier Washington (left) sacking California quarterback Fernando Mendoza / Paul Karge/The Times / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Ben Roberts will be asked to patrol the middle of the Texas Tech defense

While Washington's potential is based on only one game, what Texas Tech fans are counting on from linebacker Ben Roberts in 2024 is a result of a fantastic redshirt freshman season. Making 107 tackles, he was named the Big 12's Co-Defensive Freshman of the Year and that's the type of showing the Red Raiders need from him again as a sophomore.

The hope for the Red Raiders is that the linebacking duo of Roberts and Jacob Rodriguez will anchor the defense. They are two of the most intuitive players on the team and together they could form the best linebacking duo in the Big 12.

They will be needed to quarterback the defense this season with new starters expected to man many of the positions up the spine of the defense such as defensive tackle and safety. With leaders such as Hutchings, Bradford, and Taylor-Demerson having graduated, the Roberts and Rodriguez duo is going to have to supply some much-needed experience.

Roberts was a revelation in 2023. He had six games with at least 10 tackles including 13 against Big 12 champion, Texas.

Additionally, he forced two fumbles and picked off a pass as part of his first season as a starter. Next year, he could contend for All-American honors, and if he makes that type of leap, the Red Raider defense could be even better than it was last season despite sustaining some significant losses.