Koch's Keys: Five Juniors to Watch

Koch's Keys: Five Juniors to Watch

With the 2013 football season coming up quickly, Joshua Koch ranks the top five juniors to watch on the Red Raider football team.

After ranking the top five freshmen and sophomores to watch on the 2013 version of the Red Raiders, it is now time to venture on to the real impact players that are going to arguably see the most playing time.

So out of a loaded class of juniors, who are the five Red Raiders to watch?

 

5) Blake Dees (Junior – Linebacker)

 

The defense will be key in the upcoming season and new defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt has the luxury of having some seasoned veterans at linebacker.

One of those is Blake Dees.

The Spanish Fort, Alabama native has had two quality seasons thus far roaming the secondary of the defense recording back-to-back 30-plus tackle seasons.

In his freshman campaign, Dees finished with 32 tackles, 28 solo, and also registered two forced fumbles and one interception in eight games with five starts including the season opener.

Dees starting in the season opener marked the first time a true freshman had started a season opener at linebacker since 2003 when Brock Stratton did it.

In the opener, Dees did not disappoint and proved that he deserved to start recording eight tackles, which was most by a Tech true freshman in a season opener in more than 11 years.

Ever since then Dees has been a force to be reckoned with.

Last season Dees finished with 34 tackles, 27 solo, and recorded at least one tackle in 12-of-13 games.

Partnering with Will Smith on the defense will make for a very potent combination on the defense along with all the other talent that unit will possess in 2013.

 

 

4) Sam Eguavoen (Junior – Linebacker)

 

Another linebacker that will play a key role in 2013 will be Sam Eguavoen.

With the loss of Cody Davis and D.J. Johnson from the 2012 team, combining for 191 tackles, 101 for Davis and 90 for Johnson, respectively.

So with those numbers loss, who replaces them?

Well look down the line just a few spots and you see Eguavoen, who finished last season fifth on the team with 52 tackles, 37 solo and 15 assisted.

In his freshman season, the Garland, Texas native, recorded 30 tackles, 25 solo, with one fore loss. Was second on the team among all freshmen in tackles.

In high school Eguavoen was Second-Team District 10-5A posting 118 tackles as a senior with 64 solos.

Watch for a true breakout season for Eguavoen in the fall because he will be flying around the defense with Dees, Smith and company.

 

 

3) Bradley Marquez (Junior – Wide Receiver)

 

After a season cut short by injury, expect Bradley Marquez to play a bigger role in the offensive unit in 2013.

Marquez has played in 18 games recording 41 catches for 412 yards and one touchdown.

Now of course those numbers are a little misleading considering Marquez suffered a season-ending injury against West Virginia in 2012.

In his freshman campaign, Marquez averaged 9.6 yards per catch in 12 games, now think what he can do when he is healthy and is more integrated into the offensive scheme than he was as a freshman.

There is no doubt Marquez has speed as he was one of the premier running backs coming out of Odessa High School where he rushed for 2,210 yards and 29 touchdowns in his senior season.

Football is not the only sport he has been good at as the New York Mets, in the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Players Draft in the 16th round, drafted him.

So with his skillset, speed and ability to go get the ball, Marquez could be a big target for whoever is the starter under center in 2013 for the Red Raiders.

 

 

2) Kenny Williams (Junior – Running Back)

 

Texas State fans definitely won't forget Kenny Williams.

The running back that rolled over the top of a defender on his back and kept on running right into the endzone late in the Red Raiders 58-10 beating of the Bobcats.

Not only with that run but the entire season as a whole, Williams opened the eyes of people around the Big 12 Conference and the country.

Williams finished 2012 leading the team with 824 rushing yards and averaged 63.4 rushing yards per game - both of those stats ranked 10th in the Big 12.

His performance in 2012 was one for the record books as his 824-yard performance marked the most rushing yards by an underclassman since 2006 when Shannon Woods rushed for 926 yards in his sophomore season.

When comparing what Williams did in his sophomore season to his freshman season, where he rushed 43 times for 135 yards, there is doubt you can consider what we saw last year, a breakout season.

Coming off the year he had, there is no doubt that Williams is eyeing the 1,000-yard mark in 2013.

With Eric Stephens gone, Williams is the leader in the backfield and will be joined by a solid group of fellow running backs.

Also watch for Williams to come out of the backfield and catch some passes, in 2012 we saw more of that out of the Pflugerville, Texas native.

Williams had 16 catches for 163 yards in 2012 and six catches for 52 yards in 2011. With his skills to run and catch the ball, Williams will definitely be a weapon in the backfield for the quarterback and also at times provide extra protection.

So look for a lot of his career-highs to be surpassed this season and watch for Williams coming busting out of the backfield with his powerful downhill running style that can knock a defender out of their cleats.

 

 

1)   Jace Amaro (Junior – Tight End)

 

Finally, the man that a lot of people are expecting to have a huge season and possibly become the Red Raiders first NFL Draft pick in a while – Jace Amaro.

Just like Marquez, even with the win against West Virginia, it came at a cost. Amaro got injured in the first half of the game and was out for the rest of the regular season and tried to make a comeback in the bowl game against Minnesota. Against Minnesota, Amaro made just two catches for 15 yards and said earlier this spring said he really should not have tried to come back in that game because of his injury earlier in the year.

But with a full spring under his belt to recover, Amaro is beginning to come back to form.

In the spring game, where Amaro finished with 11 catches for 80 yards and one touchdown, which was a sight for sore eyes for Tech fans.

There was one catch where Amaro came across the middle made the catch and it took four defenders, that's right four, to take him down.

It's probably safe to say that Amaro is back.

If he would not have gotten hurt in the West Virginia game, where he recorded new career highs in receptions, 5, receiving yards, 156, longest reception, 61 yards, and all-purpose yards, 156.

To really show how good he was, over the span of just seven games, Amaro had 409 yards receiving and four touchdowns. If he had a full season, there is a chance he finished up near 700-800 yards.

Despite missing those games, Amaro still was named to the All-Big 12 Second Team and ESPN All-Big 12 First Team.

Amaro is the type of tight end with his size, 6-foot-5 and 257 pounds that could really be a go-to target over the middle for the quarterback.

There is no doubt that we will one day be seeing Amaro playing on Sundays in the NFL, but for now the Red Raider faithful get to enjoy him for at least another year, maybe two.

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