February 7, 2013

Recruits, fans are ready to follow Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury

New coach set to get Red Raiders back on track.

DALLAS -- Kliff Kingsbury's return to Lubbock in December as coach of his beloved Texas Tech football team brought forth reverence among the faithful second only perhaps to the sacred passages of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Kingsbury to this point can do no wrong, and his words the gospel.

Now if only he had a little miracle, like from his last stop as offensive coordinator at Texas A&M.

"We're trying to find one," Kingsbury said, of Johnny Manziel. "He's a once-in-a-lifetime player. A phenom."

Who exactly the Red Raiders yielded in Kingsbury's first recruiting class won't be known until the newcomers take the practice field in August. And then some won't pay off until a few years down the road, if ever.

Kingsbury and some of the staff were in town Thursday at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel as part of the annual Red Raider Club Recruiting Roundup.

Tech's coaching staff under the new coach were behind the eight-ball in recruiting when former coach Tommy Tuberville suddenly left to take the Cincinnati job before Christmas.

A long commitment list dwindled to fewer than 10 as prospective recruits were left wondering what the direction of the program would be headed.

In the end, Kingsbury welcomed 23 players into the program.

Among those is speedster Devin Lauderdale of Houston, an athlete who momentarily backed away from a commitment to Tech before embracing the new regime and picking the Red Raiders over just about everybody, including Alabama, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Florida State.

Lauderdale possesses the speed Kingsbury hopes to bring to Tech.

"The big deal was putting our staff together," said Kingsbury, whose class also includes highly rated quarterback Davis Webb of Prosper and Cody Hayes, an offensive lineman from Fort Worth Eastern Hills.

"It took awhile to finalize our coaching staff, but once we did we really got a direction of where we needed to go."

Kingsbury will take over a program that he acknowledged isn't exactly broken. Tech went 8-5 in 2012, concluding the season with a victory over Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston.

He said he is still evaluating players and doesn't yet have a firm grip what the offense will look like, though it will be based on the same principles he used at Houston, where Casey Keenum broke just about every NCAA record and at A&M where Manziel won the Heisman in 2012.

If nothing else, Kingsbury has accomplished the feat of uniting a fan base that remained divided over the firing of former coach Mike Leach. Leach, now at Washington State, coached Kingsbury from 2000-02.

"At the end of the day you want all Red Raiders to be pulling in the same direction," Kingsbury said. "If the hiring did that, then that's great for the program."

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