Friday, the Texas Tech football team rounded out an excellent week on the recruiting trail by securing the pledge of Washington State transfer wide receiver, Josh Kelly. After picking up as many as three more potential starters earlier in the week via the portal, Joey McGuire may have landed his biggest transfer yet in Kelly.
This season, the Fresno, California native racked up 923 yards and 8 TDs on 61 catches. Averaging 15.1 yards per reception, he proved to be a big-play threat for the Cougars and that's something that the Texas Tech receiving corps was sorely lacking in 2023.
Kelly perfectly rounds out the 2024 Texas Tech wide receiver room
This year, the Texas Tech receivers were plodding and less than explosive to say the least. That was especially true for the players who lined up on the outside.
While Jerand Bradley, Jordan Brown, and Coy Eakin (the three primary outside wide receiver targets Tech relied on this fall) all averaged at least 10.6 yards per catch, none are the type of player who can be expected to turn a modest gain into a huge play with yards after the catch. However, Kelly might just be that guy.
In 2022, while playing for Fresno State (the school that he played three years for after signing with out of high school), he posted 17.3 yards per catch, and in his college career, he's yet to average below 15.0 (outside of 2019 when he played in only one game). Already in his career, he's got receptions of 71, 69, 62, 60, and 51 yards.
It's been quite the rise for Kelly as a collegiate. Just a low three-star prospect in the class of 2019, he was rated just the No. 255 wide receiver in the nation with offers from only Fresno State, San Jose State, Hawaii, and Nevada. However, now, he's made himself into one of the most coveted players in this year's transfer portal.
In fact, as of Friday night, Kelly was rated the No. 59 overall player and No. 13 wide receiver in the portal by 247Sports. In fact, he is now rated as a 4-star transfer in the new world of transfer rankings.
Next season, Kelly should pair with Florida transfer Caleb Douglas to form the Red Raiders starting tandem at outside receiver. That is going to be important because it will take some of the pressure off of incoming 5-star wide receiver signee, Micah Hudson.
While Hudson is the highest-rated recruit Tech has ever landed, asking him to come into the Big 12 and shoulder the load as a starting wide receiver in his first collegiate season might be a little too much to ask. Remember, even Michael Crabtree was a redshirt freshman when he made his on-field debut for Texas Tech in 2007.
While Hudson might have as much upside as any player on the Red Raider roster, it could take him a season to figure out how to play the position at this level. Thus, having Kelly and Douglas there to help man the outside receiver spots (along with Eakin) could be invaluable in 2023.
Texas Tech is putting together an impressive transfer portal haul
Kelly is the seventh player Texas Tech has added via the portal this cycle. What's more, the talent McGuire has added is among the best in the nation.
247Sports.com ranks the Red Raiders' transfer haul as the 9th-best in the nation and the second-best in the new Big 12 behind only Colorado.
In addition to Kelly and Douglas, Tech has added a pass-catching threat at tight end in Jalin Conyers and two guards who are likely to start in Vinny Sciury and Davion Carter. However, the program is likely to continue to search the portal for more help at offensive tackle, along the defensive line, and even in the secondary.
What Tech fans are excited about, though, is that, at least on paper, the 2024 offense already looks to be more potent than the 2023 version has been. Of course, much of that will depend on the health of Behren Morton who quarterbacked the last eight games of this season with a sprained shoulder. Having running back Tahj Brooks back in the fray, which became official this week, won't hurt either.
McGuire is off to a flying start in the wild world of transfer portal shopping, which is essential in the new era of college football. Landing Kelly is arguably his best win via the portal thus far but it almost certainly won't be his last.