Texas Tech will begin its 100th season in college football in 2024. Many programs that began at Texas Tech’s same level, i.e. at the bottom, went extinct or remained on the lower rungs of college football’s ladder. What happened to Howard Payne and St. Edwards, Haskell Institute, Wayland Baptist, early rivals of the Red Raiders. None of these elusive names from the past are still present on the football field. Some simply do not exist. The remarkable achievement of Texas Tech football being in one the top five conferences in college football is the result of many generations of administrators, coaches and players over nearly a century. It wasn’t a set fact that Texas Tech football would thrive rather than disappear for 70 years, like it did at Wayland Baptist.
This is not to suggest that Texas Tech football ranks as high as Notre Dame in terms visibility and achievements. There is plenty to be proud of.
Despite having a late start to the season, Texas Tech is ranked twentieth in bowl appearances. It has produced 34 All-Americans, 173 NFL draft selections, and 144 players who were part of the NFL or AFL. That’s not bad for a university situated on land that, only 33 years before its founding, was literally on the frontier of the Wild West.
As we approach the centennial year of Texas Tech football, this is a great time to look back on the greatest players the program has produced. This article will briefly discuss the 45 best Red Raiders. In making my selections, I’ve factored in both college, and when applicable, professional performance. The length of a college football career is also important. A player who plays four years in a Texas Tech uniform has preference over a player who only plays two seasons. The Fantastic 45 players will appear in reverse order according to their ranking.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Kliff Kingbury, former Texas Tech quarterbacking star and less-stellar head coach, is often credited for his impressive touch with quarterbacks. This is quite right. He was also a very shrewd judge of wide receiver talents.
Antoine Wesley is a perfect example. 247 ranked Cibolo Steele prospect No. 247 rated him as the No. 179 prospect in Texas. He was a 3-star recruit, but then a slightly hyperactive rutabaga gets three stars, so that’s not exactly a glowing endorsement. The No. The No. 179 player was selected for All-American first-team honors and is now a NFL player.
But Wesley didn’t quite take Texas Tech by storm. Wesley was only able to catch 10 passes his first two seasons as an Red Raider. Wesley played behind Dylan Cantrell, Cameron Batson, and Keke Coutee. There was nothing in those years to predict the explosion that would come in 2018, Wesley’s junior year.
He caught 88 balls for 1,410 yard and nine touchdowns in that season. Wesley broke the Texas Tech single-game receiving records with 13 catches for 261 yards and 13 catches against the Houston Cougars. He was named a Football Writers of America first-team All American in 2018 for his efforts.
Wesley was selected for the NFL draft. Many thought Wesley had jumped the gun and he was drafted in the NFL draft. The Baltimore Ravens signed Wesley to a free agent contract, but he was waived and never appeared on the team’s active roster.
Wesley’s NFL hopes looked dim until Kingsbury, now the coach of the Arizona Cardinals, signed Wesley for the 2021 season. He was the team’s fifth receiver, and finished with a respectable 19 grabs for 208 yards and three touchdowns. Although the jury is still out on this, Wesley appears to have the potential to be a long-term red zone threat. If he does, the ranking at No. 44 could be a little too low.