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January 11, 2006

Red Raiders rising

Ever since Mike Leach took over the Texas Tech program in 2000, there has been a change going on in Lubbock, and it started with the lifeblood of any program - recruiting.

Highly ranked players and top-notch talent is a quick way to infuse a program with the pieces of the puzzle needed for championships. Though that has been a goal of Tech, like any other program, Leach's staff has put together classes that may not have rivaled every team in recruiting rankings, but they have gotten enough if not more from their players than most schools across the nation.

Since 2002, the Red Raiders' classes have averaged around No. 40 in the country. The highest ranked class up until this year, ranked at the No. 33 spot, was the 2004 class that included up-and-coming quarterback Graham Harrell and five-star quarterback-turned-receiver Robert Johnson.

All of those classes, regardless of team ranking, were filled with hidden gems that turned into success on the field. The 2006 class, though, is starting a new trend toward not only talent but a top ranking.

The current class, compared to the 2005 group, is far larger sitting at 29 commitments, and the Red Raiders may have assembled their best group of athletes to date.

Another strength of the current class is just how well the needs were met from the beginning of the recruiting process. Offensive linemen were a huge goal, and Tech managed to land seven including four-star junior college guard Ofa Mohetau.

Two quarterbacks also highlight the class with three-stars Taylor Potts and Greg McElroy. While rumors circle around both quarterbacks, it appears that many believe neither will leave. However, with more visits anything can happen.

McElroy was reportedley visiting Colorado this past weekend and looks to visit Alabama soon. Potts has been flirting with the idea of a visit to Baylor.

Getting a complete defensive unit was also a goal that was met. There is plenty of talent for the defensive unit of Tech that has steadily improved in the last few years.

Four-star defensive back Leonard Hewitt's recent commitment, though not completely solid yet, was a huge pickup along with defensive back. LaRon Moore.

Tech also went to battle big time for prospects like Richard Jones of La Marque, Texas who was this year's Greater Houston Defensive Player of the Year. Jones was a Missouri commit, but an official visit to Tech changed all that.

Currently the Red Raiders have put together an excellent class and capitalized on big named talent in the state of Texas. While sitting at 29 commitments, there isn't much left to fill but a few names could be added before Signing Day comes and goes.

Four-star prospect Michael Crabtree has watched his offer count rise but Texas Tech was one of the first to send one his way. Crabtree was expected to visit this weekend, but his Kansas trip caused him to sit back and decide how many more he would take.

LSU commit Danny McCray looks like he may also be visiting Texas Tech this weekend though nothing has been confirmed at this time from the Tiger pledge.

Should either player decide to make their pledge for the Red Raiders, the class already ranked in the top 25 on Rivals.com could jump even higher. It looks like the recent success on the field has made things better on the recruiting front as well.

Landing these top prospects will not only influence the battles among conference opponents, but especially with the in-state Big 12 teams that recruiting battles are usually centered around.


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