Albert Einstein said, “The only source of knowledge is experience.” There will not be a single team in the Big 12 with more “knowledge” than the Texas Tech Red Raiders. There are a total of 12 Texas Tech super seniors using an extra year of eligibility. Not only is that the most of any Big 12 team, but it is tied for sixth among Power Five conference teams. Those super seniors are the core of 45 returning lettermen the Red Raiders bring back for the 2021 season. They are the foundation of seven offensive and eight defensive starters that will lead this team through the year. There is a clear path for the Red Raiders to return to bowl season, but can these super seniors be the defining factor for the 2021 season? Here is what each of them brings to the roster:
Introducing the Texas Tech Super Seniors
The Offensive Super Seniors
Two Texas Tech super seniors can be found on the offensive line. Josh Burger, a former transfer from Wofford, has started 35 consecutive games at both the FCS and FBS levels. Hard to find a coach who wouldn’t want to build their offensive line around someone with 35 starts under their belt.
In addition, a player who has certainly earned his frequent flier miles, grad transfer T.J. Storment is going to fill the one spot on the offensive line that lost a starter from last year’s team. He was selected to the All-Big 12 Second team in 2020 with the TCU Horned Frogs. A talented tackle will only bolster a unit that was successful at protecting the quarterback in 2020.
While Travis Koontz isn’t necessarily the air raid option that is going to stuff the stat sheet, his effectiveness in the run game will have Koontz back on the field for the Red Raiders. The tight end from Ohio appeared in nine of ten games last season.
Injuries robbed wide receiver McLane Mannix from contributing much in 2020. Mannix began his career at Nevada, where he was a Freshman All-American and an All-Mountain West wide receiver for the Wolfpack. Mannix has yet to build on his success from early in his college career, but if healthy, could have a breakout year to elevate the Red Raider passing attack.
The Defensive Super Seniors
Three linebackers are super seniors for Texas Tech this year. Ask former Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer what he thinks about Colin Schooler. Schooler provided arguably one of the best tackles of the 2020 season and is coming into the 2021 season both on the preseason Butkus and Bednarik Award watch list.
Further, the returning leader in tackles for loss, Riko Jeffers is the anchor for a very talented and very experienced linebacker group. Jeffers’ leadership has been on display early on in his Texas Tech career. Expect Jeffers to once again be at the top of the Big 12 ranks in tackles by the end of the season.
A third Texas Tech super senior is found in the linebacker ranks. Jacob Morgenstern appeared in all ten games in the 2020 season, including six starts. In addition to being able to play any linebacker position, he also has seen time at the Spur position in the Texas Tech defense. Morgenstern is also a stand-out on special teams as he was responsible for a blocked kick last season.
Eric Monroe was a starter at safety for all 10 games and led all defensive backs in tackles. The former LSU Tiger was an immediate impact player to the defense in 2020. Monroe is one of three members of the secondary that are also a part of the Texas Tech super senior roster for 2021.
Next up Marquis Waters, known as “Mud” or “Muddy,” transfers to the program from Duke. A three-year starter for the Blue Devils, Waters averaged 70 tackles and five pass deflections a season. He is also reuniting with his defensive backs coach Derek Jones. He has made an immediate impact already as he is one of 13 members of this year’s team leadership council.
Damarcus Fields enters this season with the most career starts on the Red Raiders. He is also the Big 12 leader in passes defended and closes out the Texas Tech super seniors on the defensive side of the ball. Fields will look to help Waters locked down the Big 12’s best receivers this season.