When you think Texas Tech University, you think air raid, you think thousands of yards through the air and tons of points. You rarely think defense when talking Red Raiders, especially with all the news and media time being spent on 1st round draft hopeful, QB Patrick Mahomes. It would be hard to find a defensive standout on Tech’s underrated side of the ball.
Despite the lack of stars on the defensive side of the ball, if you know what you’re looking for, it is easy to spot LB Luke Stice..who could easily be a playmaker at the NFL, level. Armed with good size (6’0, 235 lbs), good speed (4.54 forty) and the smarts to be a legit star..we were able to sit down with Stice and talk about his story so far.
Starting his college career at the University of Houston, Stice was brought in to play defense before being moved over to fullback and all cores of special teams. A move to Texas Tech saw a change of position (LB), which ended up being a blessing in disguise, as he is now trained to play multiple spots on the field.
He is quicker than fast which helps him in both the run game and when covering in the pass game. We asked him about his speed and being able to adjust to the passing game on the defensive side of the ball.
“Honestly, I knew leaving Houston and coming to Tech, I would be playing defense. I left to be with some coaches I already had a relationship with. I knew I had to put a lot of emphasis on my coverage ability, so I spent plenty of time on it..and still do. I would say I am very comfortable playing in coverage now, I know I match up from a physical stand point, my talent is there, I can play at the highest level, but in coverage since it was so new to me…I really had to study film and understand angles, I mean at another level.
Now it is really a strength for me. Being able to take on tight ends, slot receivers, (any receiver really) and running backs…I feel like I can keep up with them and make a play. Not just do my job, but make a big play. I have all the confidence in the world in my ability, in my coaching and my knowledge of the game.
As far as speed, I think it is something that helps me stand out really. I can play on the backend, but have the strength and skill to play in a box and if they needed, I could play back on offense, fullback, H-back, really whatever they needed. Then I feel like I can get on all special teams and really make a play there, so I feel like I will be able to add versatility to a roster.”
We spoke to VF Castro, (Co-Editor-in-chief of WreckemRed.com, and coinsurer of everything Texas tech) asked her about Luke and what he brings to the table.
“He stepped up big when the new strength and conditioning program was implemented. He has an incredible work ethic, and a discipline like no other. I wish he had more time at Texas Tech, Because I sincerely believe his attitude and discipline is a priceless asset to any program.”
Despite his numbers being so pedestrian, Luke always seemed to be in position to make a play. A selfless player, he always seems to help set up another player for a big play, putting the team first. This is always a positive thing ,no matter which way you look at it.
“When you play at this level, you have to be selfless. You have to be able to do your job, which may not always pay off for you in the stats sheet, but it will help the team. The team should always be first, there should never be a question about that and I take pride in that. I could care less if I didn’t make one tackle, as long as I am helping the team, as long as we are getting the job done. When you look at it, a player going out there playing out of position and making all these plays, but the team is hurting because, for every one big play, he misses on two and they end up paying for it.
That is how I look at the game, I understand people will look at stats and think I didn’t do much, but when you watch the tape, you will see a player who can play the game. A player who can come out there at get the job done. I intend on bringing that to the NFL, who ever gets me will get that player.”
The Eagles need for playmakers on the defensive side of the ball is apparent. With his skill set, Stice could easily be a player to build around or at the very least help craft the Eagles, young team. With his added value on special teams and his versatility, his fit in Philly is obvious.
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports