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As the final minutes of the Meineke Car Care Bowl wound down, you had to wonder
was the end of that game meant for a program that prides itself on developing
Darrin Moore and Eric Ward became the first school's first duo since
2008 to eclipse the 1,000-yard receiving mark. Moore had exhausted his
eligibility and Ward was considering declaring for the NFL Draft after his
standout junior campaign. Alex Torres and Austin Zouzalik were also about to
fall off the grid as were Tyson Williams and Marcus Kennard, all seniors.
The good news is that the Red Raiders return five
players that started at least one game last season. Unfortunately, only
two of them -- Jakeem Grant and Eric Ward -- played in more than seven
games. While Ward will be the receiving corps' obvious headliners, the
success of this unit in 2013 may hinge on how quickly the team's next
generation of wideouts take the next step.
Departures: Darrin Moore (Graduation), Marcus Kennard
(Graduation), Javares McRoy (Left program), Alex Torres (Graduation),
Tyson Williams (Graduation), Austin Zouzalik (Graduation).
Notable 2012 Statistics
• Ward was a first down
machine for the Red Raiders; more than 47 of his 82 receptions went for
10 or more yards.
• Amaro was the team's third-leading receiver despite missing six games
due to injury.
• If Ward is able to duplicate or slightly improve on his 2012 stats,
he'll end his career in the top three in school history in career
receptions, yards and touchdowns.
On the other hand, freshman Derreck Edwards scored the Red
Raiders' first offensive touchdown in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Jakeem
Grant did some damage for the Red Raiders during the 2012 season.
Bradley Marquez might be a go-to guy if he can fully recover from a
major knee injury and, of course, there's heralded tight end Jace Amaro.
Fortunately, Ward opted to return to the Red Raiders for his senior season amid
coaching uncertainties to give the Red Raiders two or three known quantities on
the outside -- Edwards has only played in six games -- and two known quantities
on the inside.
With Ward back, it's easy to feel comfortable about Tech's front-line receivers.
Ward and Amaro will be in the conversation for preseason All-Big 12 honors,
Marquez has proven to be a reliable playmaker in his two seasons on campus and
Grant showed flashes as a freshman.
The biggest storyline for the team's receiving corps this spring will be who
emerges to fill out the rest of the Red Raiders' rotation. Edwards has the
ability to be a star, but off-the-field issues derailed his redshirt freshman
campaign. Reginald Davis and Dominique Wheeler were both
highly-ranked coming out of high school but will be going through their first
NEW FACES: Peyton Williams. The Southlake Carroll product
transferred from Colorado at semester and will be eligible to play in 2013 as he
was grayshirting in Boulder and had yet to go on scholarship. Williams will
likely start out at inside receiver and should have a chance to work his way
into the rotation.
PRESSURE IS ON: Edwards had a productive spring last year, but
unfortunately that didn't translate into the fall. The Brenham product played in
just six games and caught only six passes. Part of his lack of production can be
attributed to off-the-field issues; he barely saw the field in Big 12 play
despite the team being down two outside receivers. While Edwards is just a
sophomore, the Red Raiders are thin on the outside and he is in a prime position
to earn a spot in the rotation.
BIGGEST QUESTION: Who will step up? Ward, Marquez, Amaro, Grant
and, to a lesser extent, Bell are known commodities. So are Jordan Davis and
Fisher. Sure, they will be adjusting to a new scheme, but you pretty much know
what you are getting with those guys. Reginald Davis, Edwards and Wheeler? Not
so much. Edwards has had successful springs before but, as noted above, has yet
to carry that forward into the fall. Davis and Wheeler, both highly-ranked
recruits out of high school, will be going through their first spring.