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May 27, 2009A huge number of factors go into the success of any football team. In this series, we will be examining 25 of them. More specifically, we will take a reverse-order look at the 25 players who will be most crucial if the Texas Tech Red Raiders are to have a successful 2008 season, however that may be defined.
This is not, however, a list of the best players on the team. Rather, this series takes into consideration the importance of a given position on the team, depth issues, experience and inexperience, and the historic strengths and weaknesses of Mike Leach's program. The results, therefore, may surprise many readers, and will hopefully spur discussion and debate.
TERRY MCDANIEL: Redshirt freshman don't typically crack Texas Tech's rotation on the offensive line, making the ascension of Terry McDaniel all that much more impressive. McDaniel, a three-star prospect by Rivals.com in the class of 2008, saw a lot of reps with the first-team offensive line this spring due to an injury to senior Brandon Carter.
HE IS RANKED TOO LOW BECAUSE...: Left tackle is an important position on any offensive line, but is especially so for Texas Tech due to the pass-heavy nature of Mike Leach's offense. And with McDaniel entering the fall listed as a co-starter at left tackle, his performance this season will go a long way in determining how comfortable quarterback Taylor Potts is in the pocket.
HE IS RANKED TOO HIGH BECAUSE...: It is possible that Chris Olson, not McDaniel, will start at left tackle. Though McDaniel did run with the first-team offense for much of the spring, his relative inexperience was evident at times. There were times during simulated scrimmage periods where he struggled against the Red Raiders' pass rush.
2009 EXPECTATIONS: McDaniel will enter fall camp battling Olson and also Carter for the starting left tackle spot.
OFF THE CUFF PREDICTION: McDaniel will not start in 2009, but will lock the position down next season.
KEY RED RAIDERS COUNTDOWN:
25. Franklin Mitchem
24. Richard Jones
NOTE: This list was a collaborative effort by Aaron Dickens, Drew Dougherty, Robert Giovannetti and Chris Level.