Following a second consecutive four-win season, Texas Tech coach Matt Wells is being trusted with at least one more season in Lubbock.
To help improve his roster from a season ago, Wells will need to call on reinforcements from Texas Tech’s highest average rated recruiting class since 247 Sports’ database began in 1999.
While the class has several talented players, it is small in numbers — perhaps a result of the NCAA’s decision to let all seniors return for another season — with ten players having signed letters of intent, and two more waiting to do so in February.
Of the ten signees, four will forgo their final semester of high school to enroll as a Texas Tech student this spring.
Here are the four early enrollees for Texas Tech football:
Behren Morton, QB
Kliff Kingsbury, Sonny Cumbie, Cody Hodges, B.J. Symons, Graham Harrell, Seth Doege, Baker Mayfield, and Patrick Mahomes are just a few of the big-name quarterbacks that have donned the scarlet and black this century. None of them were as highly ranked coming out of high school as Behren Morton.
The expectations are high for the Eastland, Texas native, and deservedly so.
Morton earned a four-star rating on his way to being the 158th highest-ranked player and 12th best quarterback in this year’s recruiting class, according to 247 Sports.
As a three year starter for the Eastland Mavericks, Morton accumulated 8,794 career yards while finding the endzone 84 times through the air and an additional 29 times on the ground.
During his senior season, the quarterback put up video game numbers. His 3,593 passing yards, 37 passing touchdowns, 897 rushing yards, and 19 rushing touchdowns were all career highs.
Morton will likely find himself right in the starting quarterback battle this spring where he will compete against Alan Bowman and Henry Colombi, but do not be surprised if the true freshman gets the nod come September.
Jerand Bradley, WR
Jerand Bradley is a name not a lot of Tech fans know yet, but they should.
The Desoto, Texas, native came 37 spots away from cracking the top 300 ranking while also coming in as the 47th best player in the state, according to 247 Sports.
His 6-5, 200-pound frame should provide a nice target on the outside for whoever is taking snaps out of the backfield.
Although his production shrank by more than half from his junior to senior years, Bradley still finished with 197 receptions, 3,231 yards, and 37 touchdowns through his three high school seasons.
Jed Castles, TE
The last time Sonny Cumbie was calling the shots in Lubbock, tight end Jace Amaro racked up 1,352 yards over the course of a season. The question becomes how is Cumbie going to utilize the tight end position this time around?
Cumbie will have a large tight end room at his disposal, which includes 247 Sports’ 37th TE in the nation, Jed Castles.
Like Bradley, at 6-6, 215 pounds, Castles provides a big target for the Red Raider passing game. With a 40-yard dash time of 4.65, it may be hard for linebackers to cover the big man from Wichita Falls.
Playing in one of the toughest 5A districts in Texas high school football, Castles earned his district’s Offensive Newcomer of the Year award as a junior while racking up 45 catches, 556 yards, and nine touchdowns.
As a senior in 2020, Castles helped drive Rider High School to a state semifinals appearance before ultimately losing to Aledo.
A two-sport athlete in high school, Castles will forgo his final basketball season to enroll at Texas Tech this semester.
Mason Tharp, TE
Mason Tharp rounds out the list of early enrollees and adds another body to the tight end room that could have up to seven players in it this spring.
Just a few spots back from Castles, Tharp finds himself as the 40th best tight end in the country — good for a three-star rating from 247 Sports.
However, one spot Tharp has Castles beat is in the size category. The Spring, Texas, local bolsters a 6-7, 225-pound frame.
In a shortened season for the Klein Bearkats, Tharp reeled in 14 catches for 246 yards and two touchdowns over the course of six games.
Being primarily recruited by special teams coordinator Mark Tommerdahl, expect Tharp to see action on both the punt and kickoff teams early on in his career. However, do not discount his ability as a tight end, both as a pass-catcher and a blocker.