Texas Tech doesn’t have to recruit at an elite level to be competitive. Mike Leach only recruited one top-30 class. But even by Tech standards, the 2018 recruiting class was concerning.
Granted, the Red Raiders only had space for a small class. Coach Kliff Kingsbury only signed 17 players. But despite the context, Texas Tech’s 2018 recruiting class is concerning.
The Red Raiders finished last among Power-5 teams in recruiting. A handful of Group of 5 teams finished ahead of them, too. Even when accounting for the small class, only five other programs had worse average recruit ratings. If not for 4-star wide receiver Erik Ezukanma, that gap would disappear.
Kingsbury has a talented roster coming back next season. The pieces are there to go on a run in the Big 12. Unfortunately, the disastrous recruiting class means the pressure rests on the 2018 season in Lubbock.
Texas Tech has a talented team coming back in 2018. An astounding 96 percent of Texas Tech’s defensive production is coming back, per SB Nation. That ranks No. 2 in the nation, as only Notre Dame returns more.
The Red Raiders have to replace playmakers on offense, but that’s less of an issue. Even after losing record-breaking quarterback Patrick Mahomes II to the NFL, the Red Raiders only fell to No. 16 in total offense. Kingsbury has experience building offenses; that shouldn’t be an issue.
The rise comes at a good time. Most of the Big 12 is replacing star quarterbacks. The top-3 teams in the conference – Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU – are breaking in new signal callers. That gives Tech a slight advantage.
Texas Tech also has a favorable schedule next year. Games against Ole Miss and Houston are winnable, and should build confidence. Games against Oklahoma State and TCU are early in the year, even though they’re on the road. Oklahoma and Texas also travel to Lubbock.
The pieces are there for Texas Tech to win 8 regular-season games next season. Kingsbury will need at least that much to save his job.
Running out of time
The recruiting troubles aren’t new, but they add pressure to Kingsbury’s tenure. He can’t try and sell the future with a recruiting class like that. Additionally, the construct of the class means it’s unlikely to contribute in key areas.
Seven players out of 17 are either wide receivers or running backs. Another is a quarterback. Only four players project to play defense. For a team that will lose major defensive production in 2019, that’s head scratching.
Now that Kingsbury is heading into his sixth season, it’s hard to sell hope to either recruits or the fan base. After going to 10 consecutive bowl games under former coach Mike Leach, Kingsbury has reached the postseason three times in five years. He needs results.
There’s time to turn around recruiting in 2019. The Red Raiders have a commitment from 4-star defensive end Steven Parker. Competing for the Big 12 title in 2018 and flirting with a top-25 rating would inspire hope.
Texas Tech needs recruiting wins next season. It needs success to sell to recruits. Men’s basketball coach Chris Beard launching the Red Raiders into the top 10 only makes the thirst for success on the football field in Lubbock that much stronger.
Everything for Kingsbury rides on the 2018 season. He can either win or go home. His career depends on it.
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