Texas Tech Roster Autopsy: Red Raiders plan to contend for Big 12 title

Associated Press

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2023 finish: 7-6, Independence Bowl 
Off. PPG: 27.4
Def. PPG: 26 
Key losses: DT Jaylon Hutchings, DT Tony Bradford, CB Malik Dunlap, FS Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, DE Myles Cole, TE Baylor Cupp, WR Myles Price 
New faces: 21 signees, 14 transfers 
Top additions: TE Jalin Conyers (Arizona State), OL Vinny Sciury (Toledo), WR Josh Kelly (Washington State), WR Micah Hudson (Lake Belton)


The Red Raiders dropped from 27th in scoring offense in 2022 to 64th in 2023 as the offense scored 6.8 fewer points per game in the second season under offensive coordinator Zach Kittley. Texas Tech was forced to play multiple quarterbacks for the second straight season as well when starter Tyler Shough’s injury made way for Behren Morton, who threw for 1,757 yards and 15 touchdowns in 10 games. His top three pass catchers – Myles Price, Xavier White, and Jerand Bradley – have since left in the transfer portal. The offense reloaded through the portal with playmakers such as wide receiver Josh Kelly and tight end Jaylin Conyers, as well as five-star freshman Micah Hudson. 

But one thing won’t change about Texas Tech – the run game. Tahj Brooks was the best running back in Texas last year, rushing for 1,538 yards and 10 touchdowns on 5.3 yards a carry. The offensive line he runs behind will look different, however. The Red Raiders hit the portal hard and added as many as three potential starters to pair with returning experience.

Projected Starters
  Player Year
QB Behren Morton Jr.
RB Tahj Brooks Sr. 
WR Josh Kelly Sr. 
WR Coy Eakin Soph.
WR Drae McCray Sr. 
TE Jalin Conyers Sr. 
LT Ty Buchanan Jr. 
LG Davion Carter Sr. 
C Caleb Rogers Sr. 
RG Vinny Sciury Sr. 
RT Sterling Porcher Sr. 

Breakout candidates

WR Micah Hudson – The Lake Belton product is the highest-ranked recruit to ever sign with Texas Tech and that brings expectations – fair or not. The 6-foot, 190-pound Hudson was the top-ranked player in Texas at Dave Campbell’s and was a human highlight reel as a Texas high school football star. He won’t need to lead the team in receptions or yards or touchdowns, but he’ll play, and play a lot.

WR Caleb Douglas – Snaps are for the taking at wide receiver with so much turnover at the position from 2022. Douglas, who started the first five games for Florida last year before a season-ending injury, caught 11 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. At 6-foot-3, he can become a third down and red zone threat. He’s a Missouri City native returning home to Texas. 

OL Sheridan Wilson – The interior lineman from Argyle has waited his turn to anchor the Texas Tech offensive line as the starting center. He’ll be in a battle to prove the spot belongs to him in the spring and summer. If the redshirt sophomore steps up and takes the position by force, the Red Raider offensive line has real depth. 

Key Unit

Offensive line – The hardest position group in college football to rebuild remains offensive line, even in the transfer portal age. It is hard to do artificially through the portal, but the Red Raiders must hit on a few takes this offseason to contend for a Big 12 title. Five of the team’s top six offensive linemen from 2022 are gone. It is possible that four of the five starters in Week 1 of 2023 transferred into Lubbock at some point. 

Biggest question mark 

How good is Behren Morton? – Texas Tech must score more points in 2023 for the Red Raiders to reach their goals in year three under McGuire. To pull that off, the offense needs conference-championship level play from the quarterback position. Morton played a lot in the last two seasons, but this will be the first offseason with him entrenched as the starter. He’ll get plenty of practice reps in the spring and summer. Texas Tech should be great in the running game, more explosive at wide receiver, and more consistent along the offensive line. Morton can take this team from seven or eight regular season wins to 10 if he reaches his four-star potential. 


The Red Raiders defense allowed 3.2 fewer points per game in 2023 compared to 2022 in year two under defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter. The 26 points allowed per contest ranked 63rd nationally in the FBS during the 2023 season. Improving will be a tough task despite the continuity of the defensive staff, however, because Texas Tech loses some key pieces such as Bradford, Hutchings, and Demerson-Taylor, and Dunlap. 

The linebacker position is set with Ben Roberts and Jacob Rodriguez etched in as starters. The secondary and defensive line require more projection. Quincy Ledet Jr., E’Maurion Banks, and Rice transfer De’Braylon Carroll are the names to know on the interior. Brayln Lux will start at one corner, while C.J. Baskerville should take one of the starting spots at safety.

Projected Starters
  Player Year
Edge Charles Esters III Jr. 
DT Quincey Ledet Jr.  Sr. 
DT E'Maurion Banks Jr. 
OLB Joseph Adedire Jr. 
LB Ben Roberts Soph.
LB Jacob Rodriguez Jr. 
Star Brenden Jordan Soph.
CB Brayln Lux Sr. 
CB Maurion Horn  Soph. 
BS C.J. Baskerville Sr. 
FS Chapman Lewis Fr. 

Breakout candidates

DL E’Maurion Banks – Texas Tech needs new playmakers in the interior of its defensive line with Hutchings and Bradford gone. Ledet Jr. will occupy blocks and plug the rushing attack. Banks needs to get into the backfield. He did that in limited action last season as a reserve. He’ll need to be a consistent force as a likely starter in 2023. Banks graded out slightly better than Hutchings in PFF grades, so the talent is there. 

CB Devynn Cromwell – After four seasons at the University of Guelph in Canada, Cromwell arrives in Lubbock hoping to win the starting cornerback spot opposite of Lux. He’ll need to knock off Horn and few other contenders to do so, but Cromwell was an Ontario University Athletics All-Star in 2022. 

DB A.J. McCarty – The battle for the starting STAR position should be a fun one between McCarty and Jordan. McCarty, a junior from Brownwood, transferred to Texas Tech from Baylor after the 2023 season. He played in 29 games as a Bear with experience at corner and nickel.   

Key Unit

Linebacker – The Red Raiders lost 50 percent of their defensive production from the 2022 squad, which ranks as the 101st-most in the FBS ranks according to ESPN. The defense must break in new starters on the edge, in the interior, and at corner and safety. The experience lies at linebacker. Roberts led the team in tackles last season as a redshirt freshman. Rodriguez averaged over six tackles a game in five appearances. Big seasons from those two allow the other pieces to round into form. 

Biggest question mark 

Pass rush – Of the five Red Raider defenders to record at least three sacks last year, four are gone. Esters, a junior from Cedar Hill, is the team’s leading returning sacker with three. No other returner has more than two. Texas Tech requires a team approach to quarterback pressures unless Esters or another defender emerges into an all-conference performer. The unit recorded 2.08 sacks per game last season – 72nd-most in college football. They were 45th nationally with 2.39 sacks per game in 2022 with Tyree Wilson leading the charge. 

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