Michael Starts, First of the Tubervillians?

No, that shouldn't read "Tubervillains," though perhaps it could if the Red Raider defense ends up being as tough and mean as some of the units Tommy Tuberville coached on another plains once upon a time. Tubervillian, as in the first major in-state recruit defensively to commit to Texas Tech under the new, less pirate-y head coach. Significantly less pirate-y is the staid-in-comparison Tuberville. Another difference -- Tuberville actually cares about recruiting, and is willing to exert the effort to do so at a high level, something for which Mike Leach never seemed to develop any particular taste.

With the commitment of Waco La Vega DL Michael Starts, covered well by GHG analyzing the recruitment of Starts and the implications for the Longhorns as the program attempts to alleviate the depth problems at the offensive tackle position, Tuberville now has a major piece in his efforts to build an SEC-caliber defense in Lubbock. The question is, what are the wider implications of the commitment? Does it mark a change in the recruiting narrative of the Big 12 and Texas Tech specifically?

Of course, the most obvious point is that the Red Raiders win few head-to-head recruiting battles with the Longhorns, none in the last several years that come to mind. This season, the Sooners and the Aggies haven't either, with neither school boasting a commit with a Texas offer. Does the Starts recruitment indicate that the Red Raiders can now compete on a more level playing field with Mack Brown and company for the top defensive talent in the state?

Not so fast, my friend. The unique circumstances of the decision -- all the other finalists offering Starts at least a chance on defense, if not as a defender only -- in essence meant that Texas Tech and Texas weren't really competing on the same level. Before disregarding that as spin from a Texas website, considering the following. Starts wanted to play defense. Texas wanted him on offense. The decision was less about Texas Tech over Texas, but about defense over offense. That's the take here, at least.

However, that take isn't meant to minimize the importance of Tuberville landing such a high-profile recruit. After all, Tech did beat out other in-state schools like Baylor and Texas A&M for Starts, as well as some programs that recruit well nationally, like USC and Auburn. And getting Starts to buy into what Tuberville is selling in building a defense is no insignificant accomplishment.

The point here is merely that until Texas Tech can compete on a consistent basis for players like Steve Edmond or Malcom Brown -- when both schools are recruiting the prospect at the same position -- the commitment of Starts doesn't represent a major battle won against Texas or a major reversal in the narrative. Merely that Tuberville was willing to provide Starts with an opportunity that the Texas coaches could not as a result of the talent void at tackle.

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