February 9, 2012

Prunty discusses D recruits

The Texas Tech defense needed some help if it was going to jump up several levels for the 2012 football season.

No question, it's going to be an uphill battle this season defensively, but the defense should be vastly improved from last year's tough season with a good handful of junior college players and reinforcements at the linebacker, defensive line and cornerback positions.

"We're excited about all the guys we brought in," defensive line coach Robert Prunty said just after an on air interview with RedRaiderSports.com's Chris Level and Aaron Dickens in conjunction with Lubbock's Fox 34 Signing Day Special show. "We mixed in some junior college guys with experience with some young guys. We addressed some needs in the secondary with freshman along with a junior college guy in [db]Bruce Jones and also some really good linebackers in Micah Awe and Kris Williams. Michael Starts on the defensive line along with Anthony Smith and J.J. Lollar.

"So we've addressed a lot of needs on defense and the main thing is we got some guys that can run which is coach Tommy Tuberville's philosophy."

The 2012 recruiting class, especially on defense, will be remembered for an unusually heavy amount of junior college players meant to provide immediate fixes at various spots across the field.

Prunty is very excited about what Riverside (Calif.) Community College linebacker Will Smith can add to a linebacking corps that didn't perform up to expectations in 2011.

"Smith excites me, man," Prunty said. "He's 6-foot-2, 220 pounds. He can cover a back in the backfield, he can get on a No. 2 receiver or a slot receiver and guard him man-to-man. He can also play the run. This guy is the total package, running sideline to sideline.

"I really like Lee Adams. He's a guy that transferred from Arizona State to Riverside and we were lucky to get Lee because he can play defensive tackle and defensive end. Great hand placement, plays with leverage and does things right on the football field."

While on the Riverside kids, Prunty had to bring up kick return specialist Sadale Foster who was the Red Raiders' lone two-star recruit in the Class of 2012.

"A lot of people haven't been talking about Sadale," Prunty said. "This guy led the (junior college) nation in kick returns and punt returns. He's another guy we expect to come in and make an impact right away."

Woodland Hills (Calif.) Pierce Community College transfer Austin Stewart is a guy expected to make a big impact in the secondary immediately.

"He's a safety that can run," Prunty said. "This kid consistently runs a 4.4 so he has the kind of speed to get on a No. 2 receiver and guard him vertically and stay with him all over the field."

Starts received U.S. Army All-American honors his senior season at Waco (Texas) La Vega High School as an offensive tackle, but the plan is for Starts to play under Prunty on the defensive side of the line.

Prunty said Starts will be a project during fall camp, but is another guy you can expect to see on the field quickly.

"We've just got to teach him to play lower," Prunty said. "We've got to put him in the chutes and teach him to stay low and play with leverage. I think he'll do it. This guy is so athletic, you know, he plays basketball well too. So it's a matter of us getting with him and working on his stance and working to get off the ball and keeping a flat back and just playing with leverage and using his hands.

"This man will be a great player for us."

Prunty helped land a lot of the plays mentioned above. He was the 2011 Big 12 Conference Recruiter of the Year and made another case in 2012.

"I think the biggest thing is God gave me the ability to communicate with people," Prunty said. "They see what my heart is about and I'm genuine. I genuinely love, never met another person I didn't like. So I think when I'm recruiting these young guys I try to tell them the right things and I'm a good listener. I think the biggest thing about recruiting is listening. Just like a salesman, you have to listen to what the customer wants and then deliver."

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