Texas Tech football: Red Raiders in good shape with top LB target Colin Oliver – Wreck’Em Red

The Texas Tech football program has made the cut for its top LB target, Colin Oliver from Oklahoma.

In the Texas Tech football program’s never-ending pursuit of a respectable defense, head coach Matt Wells has set his sights on one of the top players from Oklahoma, Colin Oliver.  Arguably the program’s top LB target in the class of 2021, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder continues to sort out his options and it appears Texas Tech is in good shape.

This week, Oliver released his top eight schools and the Red Raiders were included.  Also still in the running are Nebraska, Iowa State, TCU, Utah, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, and Arkansas.  In other words, there’s a 50% chance that this athletic LB winds up in the Big 12.

Rated by 247Sports as a 4-star player, the No. 19 inside LB in the nation, and the No. 4 player in Oklahoma, Oliver is the type of athlete that Tech needs to start to bring into the program with regularity if it hopes to finally start fielding competitive defenses on a regular basis.

Gabe Brooks of 247sports has the following scouting report: “Good size and frame that fits an inside/middle linebacker projection, but could also fit on the edge in the right situation. Quality experience in multiple alignments, including three-point and four-point stances, as well as edge and traditional off-line linebacker. Quick off the ball when playing on the line.

“Generally a solid tackler with strong hands. Closes well in pursuit, whether vs. run or as a rusher. Dangerous coming from the backside. Flashes natural pass-rush feel from multiple spots. Very intriguing blitz option as off-line LB. Strong overall athletic profile. Competes in high jump (6-2), long jump (21-0 1/2), and shot put (42-9 1/2).

“Arrives high at times as a tackler and can improve technique consistency. Body control and balance can get better. Somewhat limited exposure to dropping in coverage. Potentially position- and scheme-versatile front-seven defender whose instincts and athleticism show on tape. Projects to high-major level as possible multi-year starter with NFL Draft ceiling.”

Keep in mind that Tech is about to experience significant turnover in the linebacking corp.  This year, the Red Raiders will see Riko Jeffers exhaust his eligibility while also relying on grad transfer Brandon Bouyer-Randle from Michigan State and JUCO All-American Krishon Merriweather to help Jeffers patrol the middle of the defense.

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The problem is that both Bouyer-Randle and Merriweather will be out of eligibility after the 2021 season.  Thus, Wells and defensive coordinator Keith Patterson had better start restocking the depth at the position.

But in recent recruiting classes, Tech has not been adding linebackers of Oliver’s caliber.  In the 2020 class, the only high school LB Tech signed was Derrick Lewis II, a mid-rung 3-star prospect, and in the previous class, Tech added 3-star target Tyrique Matthews and 2-star LB Bryce Robinson.

While those players may develop into eventual starters, especially Matthews, who turned some heads in his first year in the program, if the Red Raiders are going to continue to field the type of quality linebacking corps that we’ve seen in the past few years with the likes of Dakota Allen and Jordyn Brooks earning All-Big 12 honors, star recruits like Oliver have to enter the program with more regularity.

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Thus, Red Raider fans will be keeping an eye on how this key recruiting battle unfolds.  Oliver was in attendance for Tech’s early March junior day event and appears to have real interest in Wells and Co. so there’s reason to hope that this will be one of the program’s biggest recruiting wins in 2021.


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