Texas Tech football rebuilding defensive line during spring practices

Defensive line coach Zarnell Fitch talks about the rebuilding of Texas Tech's offensive line after the graduation of two program stalwarts.
Oklahoma v Texas Tech
Oklahoma v Texas Tech / John E. Moore III/GettyImages

Recently, we discussed how the Texas Tech offensive line is undergoing a massive renovation. The same can be said for the Red Raider defensive line after the graduations of multi-year starters Jaylon Hutchings and Tony Bradford Jr. and the departure of defensive end Myles Cole to the NFL Draft.

That's why this spring is so critical for the Red Raiders' defensive front as D-line coach Zarnell Fitch looks to find three new starters. Monday, Fitch met with the media to talk about how his position group is developing during spring practices.

Two key returners are E'Maurion "Dooda" Banks and Quincy Ledet Jr., both of whom started games last season and who figure to be candidates to start in 2024. Fitch was asked how that duo has looked so far.

"Yeah you just look at it and you start thinking about just year three now for us here," he said, "you know, just seeing Dooda from the first day we got here till now. I mean it's unbelievable and he just needs to keep taking strides. You know we talked about getting 1% better and you definitely see that out of him you know...and I think I just see him growing and you know just developing, not only as a player but as a leader in the room.

"Quincy, he's playing probably his best ball you know but our whole standpoint is like just keep taking the proper steps so when we line up in the fall, we're the unit that we want to be."

Sophomore Trevon McAlpine appeared in eight games last year making eleven tackles. He started to emerge as a good rotational piece late in the season and Fitch talked about what he's seen from the sophomore this spring.

"We're working on you know, taking things that we do on the drills and using those things and doing it on the field," he said. "Tre, you know, is a very explosive kid. He's everything that we thought when we brought him here. What I like about Tre is that Tre really doesn't understand it and me getting him to understand the player that he can be.  He’s taken strides, don’t get me wrong, he’s been going with the ones, twos and keeping that group rotating a lot."

One veteran voice that Tech will rely on this year is Rice transfer De'Braylon Carroll. Fitch said that the maturity he brings to the table will be valuable.

"He brings some maturity," Fitch said. "You know I got him again played a lot of snaps bringing that maturity to the room you know learning our system learning new techniques. But what I love about that kid, he brings that attitude to the group too. Been knowing him for a long time you know from high school and you know from the process from you know him being at Duncanville and stuff like that.

"I'm glad that we got him you know he's going to be really good for us. Also [Nevada transfer] James [Hansen], he brings that to the room too you know. Older guy, married, you know bringing that you know with these young guys they can see hey 'I'm going to play video games' he's he's going home to his wife like the coaches."

Fitch was then asked about the young guys who have stepped up this spring. He had a number of players in mind.

"Braylon Rigsby, Trevonne McAlpine, Jayden Coffield," he said. "Those guys man, those guys I could all see rotating you know Coffield, and those guys they literally every day I'm trying to switch get guys used to rotating with different people communicating with different people. But I'm excited about their growth. We just need to be consistent with it now."

Finally, Fitch was asked about the depth of his defensive line. Specifically, he was asked if this was his deepest unit at Texas Tech.

"I feel like I love where we're trending," he said. "We just need to go to work. I think we did a lot of talking our first two years. I think we need to just go to work."