LUBBOCK, Texas — Nineteen young football players signed with Texas Tech on National Signing Day Wednesday, marking a big step in Matt Wells’ first full recruiting cycle at the school.
While he hasn’t been in Lubbock long, Wells knows he doesn’t have to stray far from home to find talent. All 15 high school recruits that he brought in are Texas high school football products.
“It’s huge to me,” Wells said. “This time a year ago we said we were going to base our recruiting in West Texas and then expand throughout the state. We’ve been well-received in the state and our coaches have done a tremendous job making inroads all over the state.”
Four members of the class are from West Texas, and one was right in Wells’ backyard: Frenship quarterback Donovan Smith.
Here is a complete breakdown of the players that signed on Wednesday.
Quarterback: Donovan Smith (Frenship HS)
Running Back: Tahj Brooks (Manor HS)
Wide Receiver: Loic Fouonji (Midland Lee HS), Ja’Lynn Polk (Lufkin HS), J.J. Sparkman (Pine Tree HS), Myles Price (The Colony HS)
Tight End: John Holcomb (Wellington HS)
Offensive Line: Caleb Rogers (Lake Ridge HS), Larry Moore (Fort Bend Marshall HS), Ethan Carde (Coffeyville C.C.)
Defensive Line: LB Moore (Tascosa HS), Devin Drew (Iowa Western C.C.)
Linebacker: Brandon Randle (Michigan State University), Derrick Lewis (Samuel Clemens HS), Krishon Merriweather (Garden City C.C.)
Cornerback: Nate Floyd (A&M Consolidated HS), Ryan Frank (Magnolia West HS)
Safety: Jonathan Davis (South Oak Cliff HS), Kobee Minor (Lake Dallas HS).
Last December, Wells found himself in the uncomfortable position that new coaches often experience: scrambling to put together a class weeks before National Signing Day.
This season he had a full 12 months to build relationships, get to know players and put a class together. It made a noticeable difference.
“It’s completely different than last year,” he said. “We sat up here a year ago and I’m still trying to learn Texas Tech… Relationships, high end recruits that all of these guys were with multiple offers, that does take time. That does take relationships with high school coaches and parents.”
Wells isn’t looking for one trick ponies when recruiting. While talent on the football field is obviously what’s most important, he admitted to having an affinity for multi-sport athletes.
“We put a lot of stock into multi-sport athletes,” he said. “I just think it breeds competition. You gain confidence, it’s competitive nature, gameday, all those things.”
Wells listed Smith, Nate Floyd, John Holcombe and Kobee Minor as players excelling on the basketball court.
Wells’ team had weak spots last season and more will pop up as steady seniors like Jordyn Brooks and Travis Bruffy graduate.
There will be some in-house replacements at those positions as current Red Raiders develop, but Wells will have to bring in some ready-to-go talent from the outside to plug those holes.
This recruiting class is not done. There is another signing day in February, and Wells is focused on adding junior college recruits and graduate transfers: older players that will be ready to play immediately.
Texas Tech’s class is currently ranked seventh in the Big 12 and 44th nationally by 247 Sports. Rivals has a similar view: placing the class seventh in the conference and 41st nationally.
Every player in the class is rated a three-star recruit by 247 Sports, except for Loic Fouonji who is a four-star recruit.
Recruiting services aren’t perfect, and it’s common for players to outperform or fall short of their ratings, but it is an interesting tool to view a class.
Wells is tasked with rebuilding a Texas Tech program that hasn’t competed for a Big 12 title in a long time, and the easiest way to do so is by attracting top talent.
This recruiting class, his first full one at the school, will play a pivotal role in whichever direction the program goes from here.