With the Texas Tech football team’s final home game of the season approaching, 17 senior Red Raiders will be recognized on the Senior Day game against Kansas State at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
“I think I learned from them, saw their toughness. I think their resiliency, their ability to adapt and change,” head coach Matt Wells said. “A lot of things we asked them to do to change. Change habits, change the way they live their life, change the way they go to class and they lift and quite frankly how we do ball. They have bought in, and they’ve done a nice job with that.”
The senior class consists of several key starters for the Red Raiders this season, including the nation’s leader in interceptions, defensive back Douglas Coleman III, according to Tech Athletics. This season, Coleman has picked off eight passes in 10 games.
“All my success goes to the D-line,” Coleman said, “so without the D-line putting pressure on the quarterback and containing him and making him throw inside the pocket, that allows me to make plays on the ball and stay inside tight coverage.”
Another senior leader for the Red Raiders is linebacker Jordyn Brooks. The senior linebacker leads the conference with 102 total tackles, 62 solo tackles, 10.2 tackles per game, 18 tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries, according to the Big 12. Brooks has also recorded three sacks this season.
“He’s fully bought into what we have brought here to Tech in terms of core values, the way we practice, Keith Patterson (defensive coordinator), a new scheme, a new way to do things, a new way to be coached,” Wells said. “He cares, he’s becoming a better leader, quiet by nature, just in his personality and you guys have all seen that.”
Along with embracing the new culture and values that came with the coaching change, Wells said Brooks has stepped up in a variety of ways for the team, both on and off of the field.
“He’s really come out and I think spoken up at times and in the meetings and locker room and I respect Jordyn and I know the whole room does, the whole locker room does,” Wells said. “He continues to play at a high level because he practices at a high level and he invests time into the game plan every week and he comes ready to play mentally emotionally, ready to play every Saturday, and I just think you see it by his production every Saturday. He’s playing at a really, really high level.”
Brooks has been recognized several times this season as he has been honored as the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week, Bronko Nagurski Trophy Award Player of the Week and more, according to Tech Athletics. Along with his awards, he was named a Midseason All-American by The Athletic and a semifinalist for the Butkus Award. He has also received an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl along with senior offensive lineman Terence Steele.
Steele has been a key member of Tech’s offensive line this season as he appeared in eight games after missing the Red Raiders’ first two games of the season, according to Tech Athletics. Before this season, Steele was named an All-Big 12 Freshman by Athlon Sports and earned an All-Big 12 honorable mention last season.
“I think just coming off the injury. I think he’s got a lot to prove. The Arizona game wasn’t one of his better games, which was his first live-action coming back,” Wells said. “I think he’s improved since then. You know, we’ve kind of got him settled in a little bit at right tackle, but there for a month of October, he’s kind of gone back and forth. He’s still a swing guy for us. If somebody gets hurt, we can move him. But Terence is very mature. He’s been here for a while. He’s a graduate student, a senior captain, one of our captains, meets every week. He’s very mature, does a good job of bringing those young O-linemen around and teaching them.”
On the opposite side of the line, offensive lineman Broderick Washington Jr. will also play his final home game with the Red Raiders on Saturday. In his time at Tech, Washington recorded 89 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks, according to Tech Athletics.
“It kind of hit me over the weekend because I mean, after we played TCU, next game on the schedule is senior night,” Washington said. “I was sitting on my couch thinking about it. I’m going to be emotional before the game. I mean, it’s been a heck of a ride, so I’m just trying to finish it the right way pretty much.”
Two wide receivers at Tech, RJ Turner and Seth Collins, will also be recognized on Saturday as they are in their senior seasons. While Collins has not played this season, Turner has stepped up for the Red Raiders with the absence of junior TJ Vasher.
Turner has recorded 34 catches for 478 yards this season, according to Tech Athletics. The senior wide receiver has had two breakout games this season as he recorded 138 receiving yards against Baylor on Oct. 12. He also recorded his first touchdown at Tech, catching a pass in the end zone twice against Texas Christian while also recording 116 receiving yards.
Although he will not play the rest of the season due to broken ribs, running back Armand Shyne is also wrapping up the final year of his collegiate career. With this being his first and last year as a Red Raider, Shyne recorded 374 rushing yards and three touchdowns in eight games, according to Tech Athletics.
Three offensive linemen, along with Steele, will be recognized on Senior Night as Madison Akamnonu, Bailey Smith and Travis Bruffy will play their last game at the Jones AT&T Stadium. Tech’s offensive line has only allowed the quarterback to get sacked 12 times this season as the Red Raiders’ defense has recorded 22.
Along with Coleman, defensive back Desmon Smith is also a player in Tech’s secondary who is in his senior season. Smith has not appeared in a game since Oct. 5 after suffering a leg injury against Oklahoma State, according to Tech Athletics. Another senior’s season was also cut short due to an injury as defensive lineman Lonzell Gilmore will not be able to finish his senior season after rupturing his bicep.
The final two senior Red Raiders who will be recognized include defensive lineman Quentin Yontz and linebacker Christian Taylor. Yontz has played in all 10 games this season and was recently topped the Big 12 with a 4.0 GPA, earning him a selection to the Academic All-Big 12 Team, according to Tech Athletics. Taylor has not appeared in any games this season.
“They come from a lot of different walks of life, and like I said, we mentioned earlier, some of them have been here longer, some shorter, some grad transfers in there, some fifth-year seniors, guys that came in as walk-ons that have earned scholarships, guys that have been four-year starters, all that stuff,” Wells said. “So it kind of comprises a lot of different ways to get here and get to there. But I’m proud of them and the contributions they’ve made.”
The Red Raiders must win their next two games to be eligible for a bowl game. Tech’s final home game of the season will be against Kansas State at 6 p.m. on Saturday and the final game of the regular season will take place in Austin at 11 a.m. on Nov. 29 against Texas.
“So appreciative of those seniors and everything that they’ve done for this program over the course of their careers, some longer than others,” Wells said. “A couple head coaches, but those guys, they’ve stuck it out, and they’ve been winners off the field as well as on the field, and they’re going to be very successful in life, and do everything we can to send them out as winners this week. It’ll be a big game.”