January 30, 2012

Top moments in 2012 cycle

You could see it in his eyes. He wanted, perhaps needed, to be a Red Raider.

In a camp that featured former Texas Tech commit Marcus Johnson, future Oklahoma State receiver commit Blake Webb, a really good receiver in now-Rice commit Dennis Parks, this really big kid with 4.8 speed in future Tech commit Anthony Smith and onlookers like Tech commit J.J. Lollar, the kid was working his tail off.

Problem was he will initially strike you undersized. After all, he's just five-foot-eight.

Would he be able to pass block? Is he strong enough to take the weekly beating Big 12 defenses can put on you?

We first met Quinton White June 10, 2011, at the Cypress Ridge football practice field on the first day of two days the Tech coaching staff spent in Houston for Red Raider football camps.

Lollar, having already committed to Tech and a high school teammate of White's, had brought White and another friend to the camp from College Station and White couldn't have been more ecstatic to be there. The fact RedRaiderSports.com wanted to talk to him was a big deal.

He did his interview with a big smile on his face and you could tell he'd spend the night praying for an offer from the Red Raiders. Even living in College Station, White's childhood favorite was Tech.

He had a surprisingly good vertical, he had an elite 40-yard dash time and his footwork was unmatched in the running back drills with tree trunk legs. Definitely a Division I talent.

The offer didn't come right away though. White subsequently committed to Tulsa in favor of offers from the Service Academies, Louisiana Tech and Larry Coker's new Texas-San Antonio program.

The biggest thing holding White back was the fact the Red Raiders had taken three running backs in the 2011 recruiting class. Ronnie Daniels, DeAndre Williams and Kenny Williams combined with veteran Eric Stephens provided what seemed like insurmountable depth.

With the depth at the running back position, there were just more immediate places Tech needed to add depth for the 2012 football season and beyond.

But that depth quickly became surmountable. Daniels had off the field issues to work through, Stephens sustained a compound knee injury and later in the season Washington went down with a knee injury.

To this day, no one knows exactly how Daniels, Stephens and Washington will respond to their respective issues.

Back to White though, with Stephens and Daniels already out of the picture it became clear there was probably a need for an additional running back in the 2012 recruiting class.

So Houston area recruiter and outside receivers coach Tommy Mainord turned to the best running back the coaching staff had seen through four days of camp in Dallas and Houston -- White.

The running back switched his commitment as soon as he was offered.

"It felt really great," White said when we called him just after we learned of his commitment. "When they told me I had a scholarship, I just went crazy in the coaches room."

Lollar recalled White ran to the weight room to find him and was going absolutely nuts.

It's always good to have recruits that want to attend your school off the bat. White's enthusiasm to come to Tech and prove himself is something we have to commend. But we admire his patience even more.

White's story ranks among the top recruiting moments of the recruiting cycle, but there are a few more we feel need to be relived before we begin to turn our attention onto the Class of 2013.

1. Post spring game rush

The Red Raiders got their first recruit of the 2012 class when Snyder (Texas) athlete Keenon Ward chose the local team following Tech's annual spring game.

A day later, a flurry of commits came in.

Tech got its quarterback in Abilene (Texas) Cooper quarterback Clayton Nicholas, a Rivals250 athlete Reginald Davis and Corona (Calif.) Santiago cornerback Thierry Nguema agreed to greyshirt and join the Red Raiders in 2012.

Tech also got two current basketball players in Jaron Nash and Kader Tapsoba in part because of the spring game atmosphere.

2. Extremely successful June

Lollar, now-U.S. Army All-American Michael Starts and Rivals250 receiver Dominique Wheeler committed to play Tech football in June without attending camps, and Tech made a killing between in-state summer camps in Coppell and Rockwall in the Dallas area and Cypress and Pearland in the Houston area.

By the time the camps were done, the Red Raiders had snagged Smith, defensive athlete Kris Williams, highly recruited cornerback La'Darius Newbold, center Jared Kaster and safety Micah Awe off the market.

Linebacker Ryan Flannigan and offensive tackle Trey Keenan also committed to Tech after unofficial visits.

3. Rough season

Back in Lubbock, and after defensive end Chase Robison's August commitment, the Red Raider football team struggled to a 5-7 record. It was the worst season in recent memory from a wins and losses standpoint.

However, the Red Raider recruiting class stayed strong.

Only Johnson defected. He went from Tech to Texas A&M and ultimately on to Texas, but he had wanted to be a Longhorn from the get-go.

Tech did a great job locking up a majority of its freshmen in the summer before the season could play a big role in deterring kids away from the Red Raider program, but it opened the doors for a lot of second chance players to put on the red and black.

4. A JUCO Christmas

After Tech's season-ending loss to Baylor, the coaching staff scattered off to find junior college players that could come in and add depth to the team as soon as the players stepped on campus.

December consisted of a wild goose chase with current Oklahoma commit Kasseim Everett.

However, the Red Raiders rebounded with a huge get in Gulf Coast (Miss.) Community College wideout Javon Bell and added solid depth across the ball in defensive backs Chris Payne and Austin Stewart, athlete Sadale Foster, linebacker Will Smith, defensive end Lee Adams and offensive tackle Rashad Fortenberry.

All of those players will go through spring football which kicks off Feb. 17.

5. Championship time

While the coaching staff searched the JUCO ranks, RedRaiderSports.com returned to Cowboys Stadium for the Texas High School Football Championships to check out Davis and Keenan in their final high school games.

A pretty large television audience got to see Davis put up about 550 all-purpose yards as a quarterback in Tenaha's Championship victory against Munday.

A day later, a large audience saw Wimberly not even try to contain Keenan.

Wimberly, which defeated Keenan's Argyle team, didn't even put a defensive lineman across from Keenan -- a big sign of respect. That allowed Keenan got straight to the second level in most cases and put on a show.

Keenan's team didn't win a title, but the offensive tackle definitely showed he's ready for the next level.

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