February 14, 2012

Spring Preview: Receivers

With spring football less than a week away, RedRaiderSports.com is breaking down the 2012 Texas Tech football team position-by-position.

Today we continue with the receivers.

2011 RECAP

As expected after a good 2011 spring and even better 2011 fall camp, wideout Darrin Moore came on scene early for the Red Raiders.

No Lyle Leong, no problem.

Moore had 221 receiving yards in Tech's win against Texas State and scored career-high three touchdowns the next week at New Mexico.

Unfortunately, the party ended there.

On Moore's first catch attempt in the Nevada game, Nevada's Isaiah Frey got caught Moore on a tackle that resulted in a compound knee and ankle injury. He wasn't the same until about the Missouri game when the Red Raiders were already 5-6 on the season.

Like the Eric Stephens injury, having Moore in the line up could have directly translated to a few more wins for the Red Raiders in 2011.

However, Moore's absence let Eric Ward have the spotlight and he ended up be the Red Raiders' breakout player of 2011 after a marginal freshman and sophomore seasons. It started that night when Ward caught the game-winning touchdown pass against Nevada with less than 45 seconds to go in the game.

From there Ward went on for 800 yards on 84 receptions with 11 touchdowns with his physical style of play.

Meanwhile, Cornelius Douglas and Shawn Corker were peeled away from the wide receiver corps in hopes they could bolster Tech's quickly depreciating cornerback supply and those moves were later announced to be permanent.

We would have expected inside and outside receiver Bradley Marquez to have had more of an impact in the passing game after he caught a touchdown on his first ever reception against Texas State, but Marquez finished the season with just 240 yards. Same goes with junior college transfer Marcus Kennard who got the ball just 12 times last season but did gain 182 yards on those catches.

Back on the inside, Austin Zouzalik, Aaron Fisher and tight end Jace Amaro didn't get many touches as most of the inside action went to Adam James who has now graduated from the team.

But all-and-all, it was a productive year for the Red Raider receiving corps. Combined the receivers amassed about 3,878 yards through the air excluding running back reception yards.

With the addition of receivers like Javon Bell and Dominique Wheeler it seems like the only way to go is up for the receiving corps.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Wheeler and Reginald Davis won't be on campus until this summer, but we will be able to see where Bell fits into the puzzle.

Bell, a Gulf Coast (Miss.) Community College transfer, is already on campus and has been going through offseason workouts with the rest of the squad.

Bell's speed is his biggest asset, but he is nearly undersized to be a Division I wide receiver at 6-feet-0 and 175 pounds. It will be interesting to see how Bell compares to a healthy Moore and an improved Ward and whether or not Bell can fit in on the outside.

At the inside receiver, all Red Raider fans want to see more out of Amaro who caught seven passes for 57 yards. Offensive coordinator Neal Brown has said Amaro could be his breakout player in 2012 after some hard work in the weight room.

Mark down Amaro as a player to watch this spring.

Then the obvious.

Has Moore recovered from his leg injuries?

We're going to begin learning the answers this Friday at Tech's first spring practice.

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