Key Departures: Jonathan Giles, Reginald Davis
Key Additions: JoJo Robinson
For nearly two decades now, the wider receiver position at Texas Tech has been consistently great. The group has produced household names like Michael Crabtree, Wes Welker and Danny Amendola. More recently, Big 12 fans know the names of Jakeem Grant, Jace Amaro and Eric Ward. No matter who graduates or gets drafted, this group is seemingly always in great hands.
Don’t expect that to change in 2017.
Despite the transfer of last year’s leading receiver Jonathan Giles to LSU, the Red Raiders appear loaded yet again. When Giles faded down the stretch of 2016 after bursting into the top ranks of FBS wide receivers, Keke Coutee caught fire and gave the coaching staff confidence that he could be the primary guy out of the slot moving forward.
Now entering his junior year on the Biletnikoff Award watch list, Coutee is primed to be the number one receiver for Texas Tech. Number comparable to Jakeem Grant and Jace Amaro, who occupied the slot positions from 2013 through 2015, should be expected of Coutee if he stays healthy. He’s not the biggest guy, but he is incredibly shifty in the open field and is without a doubt a home run threat when he touches the ball.
In the other slot is senior Cameron Batson, another small and quick receiver. In fact, Batson was named the fastest guy on the team during offseason workouts. He has received considerable playing time as a receiver and punt returner since his freshman year in 2014, and he will provide some veteran leadership and experience for this offense.
On the outside, Texas Tech will start a pair of seniors in Derrick Willies and Dylan Cantrell. Willies transferred from Iowa as a freshman to JUCO as a sophomore to Texas Tech for his junior season in 2016, and while he showed some serious flashes he spent much of the season battling injuries. He is 6’4” with good speed, hands and leaping ability and provides for a very tough matchup for smaller corners. The Red Raiders will need Willies to fulfill his potential and stay healthy in 2017 if they want this position group to reach an elite level.
Opposite Willies is Dylan Cantrell, a fifth year senior with a slightly different skillset. Cantrell is big and strong, standing at 6’3” 220 per Texas Tech’s latest roster. He is not a burner, but will overpower defensive backs as a blocker and fighting for position downfield. Cantrell also has a knack for coming down with some insane catches on jump balls.
The coaching staff seems very confident in the starters at wide receiver from top to bottom. Providing some depth in the slots are Arkansas transfer JoJo Robinson and Antoine Wesley, and on the outside Tech has a pair of promising sophomores in Quan Shorts and T.J. Vasher. With as many plays as Tech runs and as much as they rotate personnel, they should all get a decent amount of reps as the season goes on.
Texas Tech has once again reloaded at wide receiver, and this unit is very likely the strongest position group on the entire offense (if not the whole team). Assuming the quarterback play is relatively good, the Red Raider offense will put up some big numbers through the air as fans are accustomed to.
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