As a new football season approaches under Tech’s new head coach Matt Wells, several key members of the Texas Tech football team will not return for the 2019 season, but Wells sees potential in the returning players on his roster.
After the 2018 season, along with head coach Kliff Kingsbury leaving Tech, key losses for the Red Raiders included wide receiver Antoine Wesley, wide receiver Ja’Deion High, linebacker Dakota Allen, linebacker Kolin Hill and defensive back Vaughnte Dorsey.
Entering the 2019 season, only seven offensive starters and six defensive starters remain from last season’s team. Key players that are returning this season include sophomore quarterback Alan Bowman, sophomore running back Ta’Zhawn Henry, junior wide receiver T.J. Vasher, senior linebacker Jordyn Brooks and junior defensive lineman Eli Howard.
While 13 starters from last season’s team returning for another season with Tech after coaching changes, Wells picked up three graduate transfers that could help take the Red Raiders’ game to the next level. The three transfers include a defensive back from Penn State in Zechariah McPhearson, a running back from Utah in Armand Shyne and a defensive back from Cal-Berkeley in Evan Rambo.
“(The graduate transfer market is) certainly something that we had success with at the last place that I was at,” Wells said at the Big 12 Media Day. “We had success in the grad transfer market and it’s also something that Texas Tech has had success with. You saw two of the five starters being grad transfers for our basketball team. So you can see, the players can see that it’s been done in Lubbock, Texas. But, I think it was a way for us to get old and we needed some help and that’s a market that certainly I am happy for the players to have these days. I think it’s something we’re gonna play in with at Tech, we will, in the next several years as well and I look forward to hopefully having success in that market.”
Bowman is also a key member of the Red Raiders’ team as he became Tech’s starting quarterback last season. In his freshman season Bowman played in eight games and threw for 2,638 yards, racking up 18 total touchdowns while averaging 329.75 yards per game, according to Tech Athletics.
The quarterback is returning for his sophomore season after missing the end of the 2018 season after he was hospitalized twice due to a partially collapsed lung.
While Wells said he thinks having a good quarterback and good wide receivers would help a team succeed in the Big 12, he thinks that a winning program needs more than the two positions to be great.
One of the key returning players for Tech’s defense is Brooks. Last season, Brooks led the Red Raiders with 84 total tackles, 43 solo tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss, according to Tech Athletics.
“Just doing a lot of extra work,” Brooks said when asked how he plans to hold the defense accountable as the 2019 season approaches, according to FS2. “Just trying to improve as an overall team and that starts with defense since that’s what we play. This whole summer we’ve been doing a lot of off the field things, just building team chemistry so I think that’s very important.”
On the offensive side, senior Travis Bruffy is one of four starting offensive lineman to return for the 2019 football season.
“Absolutely, that’s what the Double T means,” Bruffy said when asked if he thinks the Red Raiders will pick back up where the left off as they experienced a coaching change, according to FS2. “The Double T means scoring points. That’s what it’s always been since I’ve known them. Just because of a coaching change, I don’t think that’s going to change one bit. We’re set up in a great play-caller in coach David Yost and coach Matt Wells as well. We have the top-down leadership, just keep scoring points and I don’t think it’s going to change one bit.”
Bruffy and Brooks will play their first official game with the 2019 Tech football team on August 31 at 3 p.m. as the Red Raiders take on Montana State at Jones AT&T Stadium to start their season.