Howard and Jeffers are Likely Moving on, Which Red Raider Seniors Might Return?
Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells has hinted at several seniors expressing an interest in returning to the program for an extra season of eligibility. That eligibility will be unquestioned after the NCAA ruled that every player in Fall sports would get this year for free which turned this season into a free redshirt for every college football player in America.
For Texas Tech, that creates some intriguing scenarios where some seniors who have blossomed late could stick around for another season to really try and turn the program around. Other seniors, like Eli Howard, will probably not use the extra season and allow their production to speak for itself moving into the NFL draft.
There are 17 Seniors at Texas Tech this season with Senior day looming right around the corner in a game against Kansas. Let's look through each Senior and determine whether or not he'll return for a second final season.
Eli Howard (DL)
Howard is a San Angelo native hailing from Central High School and has been a three time All Big 12 performer. In 2019 Howard finished tied for 4th in the Big 12 in sacks. While he hasn't declared for the NFL draft yet, he has accepted an invitation to participate in the the 2021 College Gridiron Showcase & Symposium being held January 17-21 in Fort Worth, Texas. This showcase is similar to the Senior Bowl and signals that Howard is likely moving on.
Zach Adams (OL), Cody Waddell (P), Connor Killian (TE)
Adams has mostly been used as a body on the field goal protection unit in a Red Raider career that never really clicked. While he can certainly return and compete for a starting role, if it hasn't happened yet, it probably won't in season six. I think Adams will move on to his next phase in life and put his business degree to good use.
Similarly, Waddle and Killian just haven't found the field much. I doubt they stick around for another season.
Josh Burger (OL)
This is in interesting one. Burger enjoyed a quality career at Wofford before coming to Texas Tech in what was supposed to be his final collegiate season. He studying finance in graduate school right now. Burger has started all 9 games this season for the Red Raiders. He's played the most snaps in the Big 12 among tackles according to PFF and has really improved in the last three weeks. The top two Red Raider running backs are averaging more than 5.5 yards per carry and beyond the first half against TCU and the Oklahoma game the QB's have been mostly clean.
If Burger has NFL dreams, another year of Power 5 football certainly wouldn't hurt his stock.
Seth Collins (DB)
Collins has had a long and winding career to get to where he is. After another season ending injury, just weeks after moving to DB, Matt Wells said that he and Collins had discussed a fifth year for the embattled player. Wells hinted that Collins would attempt to return.
T.J. Vasher (WR)
If you had told me a WR left early after the 2018 season I would have pegged Vasher as the guy who went to the NFL. It wasn't Vasher who left though, it was Antoine Wesley. I thought Vasher would leave again after the 2019 season, but again he surprised me. I won't be surprised three times in a row. Vasher will not take another snap as a Red Raider.
DaMarcus Fields (DB), Zech McPhearson (DB)
I'd be ecstatic if this pair of DBs came back in 2021 after breaking through and having solid seasons in 2020. It's unlikely though.
Ja'Marcus Ingram (DB), Eric Monroe (DB)
Another pair of DBs, but not as much success. If the goal is to put solid play on tape and get to the next level, these two need a few more games.
Riko Jeffers (LB) and Colin Schooler (LB)
These two linebackers have played a ton of football. While Jeffers has been able to be a Red Raider for several years, the Red Raiders have only been able to enjoy Schooler for a single season. Both have multiple all-conference honors and have the production to move to the next level in some capacity.
Travis Koontz (TE), McLane Mannix (WR)
These two guys are interesting. In some respects Travis Koontz has been a solid addition to the Red Raiders, but it hasn't been flashy at all. He only has a play or two that could be considered highlights and most of his snaps are him being an extension of the offensive line. If he thinks he'll touch the ball more in his third season maybe he returns.
Another guy who might want to touch the ball more in his third season as a Red Raider is McLane Mannix. After he transferred in from Nevada, Mannix has struggled to stay on the field. He might return in 2021 to try and get healthy for one more season.
Thomas Leggett (DB)
Leggett has been solid for Texas Tech and has played a lot of snaps as a Red Raider. I don't think he's got a path to the NFL so if he wants to keep playing football it might be that he needs to stay one more season.
Jacob Morgenstern (DB)
Morgenstern has been a pleasant surprise for Texas Tech in 2020. After being a special teams guy at Duke for three seasons he finally found a scheme and position fit at Texas Tech and has made some plays. With his size and athleticism I think Morgenstern could blossom in year two of the Patterson system.