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SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
8/09/2006 01:25:00 PM

Another Air Raider

Oakland Arena
Texas Tech's Mike Leach (right) has had no problem developing unheralded quarterbacks like Cody Hodges (left).
Photo by AP
It's long been a mystery to me why the nation's elite quarterback recruits never seem to consider Texas Tech. It seems like a no-brainer -- you know you're going to get to pass 50 times a game, throw for 5,000 yards and probably etch yourself in the NCAA record books. And you get to play in the Big 12, face some of the best teams in the country and, if the past two seasons are any indication, go to at least a semi-major bowl game (Cotton, Holiday, etc.).

Apparently, the message is finally starting to get out. Last February the Red Raiders signed blue-chipper Taylor Potts, a top-15 QB prospect according to Scout.com. Potts' decision wasn't entirely surprising, considering he was a Texas kid (Abilene), but he was by far the most highly regarded prospect Mike Leach has signed in his six years there. Now comes news that another former hot-shot recruit, Arizona State transfer Derek Shaw, is headed to Lubbock as well.

Shaw, you may recall, was one of the top quarterback recruits in the country in 2005. The Oceanside, Calif., native originally committed to Miami but eventually chose to stay closer to home and signed with the Sun Devils, where he redshirted last season. With ASU returning not just one but two of the nation's most efficient passers in Sam Keller and Rudy Carpenter, Shaw didn't figure to see the field anytime soon and left Tempe in the spring (though he told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal the decision had to do with more than just playing time).

For years, Leach's system has churned out one highly productive quarterback after another -- Kliff Kingsbury, B.J. Symons, Sonny Cumbie, Cody Hodges -- but with the exception of Kingsbury, all were career backups prior to their one season of glory and didn't even get a sniff from the NFL. It will be interesting to see whether Leach's offense can reach an even higher level with a more physically gifted signal-caller. It also should be one heck of a QB competition at Tech in 2007. This year's projected starter, Graham Harrell, is only a sophomore, while Shaw (who must sit out this season), Potts and fellow contender Chris Todd are only freshmen.
posted by Stewart Mandel | View comments |


Posted: 1:32 PM   by Anonymous
Why don't more elite QB prospects consider Tech? 2 reason: 1) Have you ever been to Lubbock? 2) Most of these guys have an eye on the pros and gimmick offenses don't get them ready for the pros.
Posted: 2:24 PM   by Chad Tiller, Dallas, Texas
I also find that it is odd that more Blue Chip Wide Receivers don't consider Texas Tech. To Leach's credit, though, he is competing with the Sooners, the Longhorns, and ocassionally the LSU Tigers for the top Texas Prep Prospects. We all know that Texas is a hotbed for recriuting--why else would Miami hold camps here each Spring? I think that Leach needs to buckle down and really start making Tech a viable option for the top prospects in Lone Star Land
Posted: 3:02 PM   by Anonymous
His QBs are like Spurriers great in College but horrible in the NFL, they don't read defenses all they do is throw to a spot and the WR will be there, Spurrier has said that in an interview.
Posted: 3:06 PM   by Anonymous
Problem is -- none of these quarterbacks are making it in the NFL. If I'm a high-rated QB I want to go to a school that I will be successful at obviously, but I also need to get prepared for the NFL. I'm from Lubbock, went to Texas..but my parents work at TT still...and I kind of like them (when we're not playing). But the fact is that 90% of the yards are YAC and when you take those yards away the qB's aren't really doing too much.
Thank you anonymous. Who wants to go to Lubbock? The only way the coach can get players interested in attending the school is if 1) they are interested in technical subjects to study, and 2) play in a BYU-style of play that requires less discipline.

The reason those QB's shine so brightly is there are so many receivers to throw at. I wonder how Kingsbury and Hodges would have done in the NFL-like Big 12. Probably would have been second string. Heck look at Tom Brady. He wasn't a starter most of his career but could have produced Andre Ware and Ty Detmer numbers if the right offense was available to him.
Posted: 4:32 PM   by Christian
Bottom line Mike Leach is building a great program and his talent level keeps improving along with Tech’s record. Call the offense what you want and let Leach keep figuring out how to get more wins. Also it is a great school to go to. Graduated their in 96, and married a pretty blond with blue eyes from Tech.
Posted: 4:57 PM   by Anonymous
Stewart, you have answered your question. Only 5 responses to your blog today. Evidently, no one cares about TT!
Posted: 5:29 PM   by kc2006
Agreed that Tech QBs have not been NFL prospects. None of the previous QBs have hyped/recruited highly. Yet, they seem to be putting up amazing numbers and breaking records. So, why would a blue-chip QB want to consider Tech? The reason is if a non-hyped/bluechip QB can put up the kind of stats Tech has, what would a Matt Leinart or Carson Palmer do with this "Gimmicky Offense." Gimmicky Offense meaning an offense that has been leading the nation in the last several years.
Posted: 5:48 PM   by kc2006
Well, I see lots of reason why blue-chip QBs shouldn't go to Tech so here are a few reasons why:
1)Non-hyped/blue chipped QBs are already putting up record breaking numbers.
2) Have you ever seen the girls in Lubbock? If not make the trip.
3) Throwing to receivers such as Jarret Hicks(6-3 200), Joel Filani (6-3 220), and Robert Johnson (6-4, 220?)
If non bluechip QBs are breaking records in this "Gimmicky Offense" ask your self what would a blue-chip (Leinart,Palmer,Leak) QB do in this offense.
Note: Gimmick Offense meaning an offense which has been in the top 5 or so in the nation the last several years and helped lead the team to a bowl game every year since the Big-12 started( without any blue-chip players) and to the Cotton Bowl last year.
This team has potential if it can get some of the blue-chip recruits.
Posted: 2:17 PM   by JB
Elite Prospects? If you build it they will come. All Mike Leach has done in his six years at Tech is Win/shatter record books and replace the Aggies as #2 in TX. Give Leach 6 more years and look out Longhorns.
Posted: 3:34 PM   by Anonymous
Mike Leach is a witch!
Posted: 6:15 PM   by Jason
Anonymous, which team are you a fan of? Probably one which Tech has consistently beaten.
Posted: 6:30 PM   by Anonymous
I am about to start my senior year at Tech and I have witnessed the evolution of this program before my eyes. When I first arrived as a freshman, Tech was a program on the rise without any blue chip recruits that consistently overacheived. Now we have a formidable squad that is at worst being considered the third best team in the south. We have just landed a stud qb in Shaw and at the rate the program is growing I expect more top recruits to come to Lubbock. Yes Lubbock is a bad town to live in but it is not the worst place to go to school, and the girls here blow any other Big 12 school's out of the water. Watch out for Texas Tech not only in the future as a Big 12 championship contender, but possibly as early as this year.
Posted: 7:41 PM   by Anonymous
"...his QBs are like Spurriers great in College but horrible in the NFL, they don't read defenses all they do is throw to a spot and the WR will be there..." I think if you had ever watched a Texas Tech game you probably would disagree with this statement. Mike Leach emphatically states that the number one characteristic he looks for in his quarterback is their decision making and knowledge of the offense, not arm strength, size or athleticism. The reason Cody, Sunny and BJ were succesful was because they were very smart and well coached. Chris Todd and Graham are both coaches sons...but the catch is they are also blue chip athletes.
Posted: 7:46 PM   by A. L. Campbell

Thanks for writing about Tech football, and I completely agree that Tech's 2007 QB competition will be very intriguing. While I enjoyed the piece, I'm not sure why you are so confident that Taylor Potts is the best QB prospect in the TTU program. Graham Harrell was the #7 pro-QB on Rivals.com and #15 on scout.com. This is a kid in the same class as Bomar, Henne, Weatherford, Brohm, and a long list of other starting QBs. Also, Harrell holds the #1 or #2 all-time Texas QB records in most categories, like touchdowns and total yards. From a HS stats perspective (which is the only way we can judge these QBs), he is by far the best at Tech and probably in the nation.

In my opinion, Leach's dilema is not what QB to put in, but how to prepare for the possibility that Harrell will go out due to injury. Harrell broke his leg last Spring, but he looked great this Spring and is in top form right now. While I think you shouldn't discount Harrel, Leach is smart to prepare the sturdier Chris Todd just in case Harrell can't take Big 12 hits.
Posted: 7:51 PM   by Anonymous
4 blue chip quarterbacks are now in the system and one backed out of his commit to go to Alabama because there was too much competition. Quarterbacks are coming to Tech...The real question is why not recievers. Tech will probably have 3 maybe 4 recievers with 80 catches this year. Hicks and Filani are both potential All Americans. With so many catches to go around what reciever would not want to play in this offense?
Posted: 9:22 PM   by Anonymous
Great picture! I actually thought Mike Leach was a trimmed down Tony Siragusa.
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