Last year, Texas Tech had as deep of a wide receiver group as you will see in college football. Seniors Dylan Cantrell and Cameron Batson, and junior Keke Coutee meshed with T.J. Vasher to give Red Raiders quarterback Nic Shimonek an array of weapons. Cantrell, Batson, and Coutee are now all on active rosters in the NFL, which would lead most analysts to believe a downtick in receiver play for Tech was imminent.
Not so fast, my friend.
We already knew that incumbent starter and redshirt sophomore T.J. Vasher had an enticing combination of physical profile and athleticism. At 6-foot-6 with excellent body control, Vasher’s six touchdowns last season were worthy of the highlight reel. But, the welcome surprise has been fellow tree Antoine Wesley. At 6-foot-5, Wesley is another redzone threat that gives the Red Raiders a dynamic college defenses are not accustomed to seeing.
In the week 1 matchup with Ole Miss, T.J. Vasher showed why he was so highly regarded entering the season, making some high-point catches along the sideline that few wide receivers could get their hands on. Then, this past Saturday against Houston, Vasher continued his production in the form of two redzone touchdowns. However, the true star of the Houston game was junior Antoine Wesley.
A relative unknown, Wesley had no career touchdowns against FBS competition entering Saturday. Well, Wesley can cross that feat off the list, three times.
His breakout game included 13 receptions for 261 yards and three touchdowns, breaking Texas Tech’s single-game record for receiving yards. For a school known for their passing acumen, that is quite the accomplishment.
Wesley dominated the Cougar defensive backs with his body control, and impressive hip drop and change of direction for a taller wide receiver. Additionally, Wesley offered ability post catch, which is rarely seen for players of his size.
To keep a comparison within the state of Texas, the combination of Vasher and Wesley is almost reminiscent of the San Antonio Spurs with David Robinson and Tim Duncan.
Freshman Quarterback Alan Bowman has two legitimate contested catch winners on either side of the field, who stretch to 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-5. Collegiate defensive backs, heck, NFL defensive backs would have trouble matching this duo’s size. Add in the fact that Bowman has shown consistent touch and accuracy so far, and you have matchup nightmares for Big 12 cornerbacks.
Wesley’s breakout couldn’t have come at a better time for the Red Raiders. Their upcoming stretch of schedule is at (15) Oklahoma State, home against (12) West Virginia, and at (17) TCU. Texas Tech’s defense has struggled in the early portion of the season allowing 47 points to Ole Miss and 49 to Houston, so they will be reliant on the offense to score early and often. This likely means a heavy burden falls on Vasher and Wesley to continue playing at their current levels if Texas Tech is to win these matchups.
I can assure you I won’t be the one that doubts them.