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Letters Of Marque - Texas Tech Football Blog

Follow our online blog throughout training camp.
Follow our online blog throughout training camp.

It's Football Time in West Texas! The defending Big 12 Conference South Division Champions have officially begun training camp for the 2009 season and your complete source of information can be found right here on our daily blog.

What is "Letters of Marque?" Letters of Marque is defined as: "proof that a pirate/privateer is sponsored by a particular government." Well Mike Leach is the official pirate of Texas Tech University and this blog will give our fans a daily insight on this year's squad.

Ahoy Mates! It's Time For Another Season of Red Raider Football!

| Wednesday, Aug. 19 - Day 13

Well just as we suspected, Coach Leach cancelled today's practice. That was welcomed news for the 105 players, coaches and staff that have been hard at work for almost two weeks. Don't forget tomorrow's kickoff luncheon at the Lubobck Memorial Civic Center.

| Tuesday, Aug. 18 - Day 12

The Red Raiders had a short turnaround from last night's practice in Jones AT&T Stadium. We decided against a blog entry again last night due to the late hour so we hope all of you will be forgiving (although none of you probably lost much sleep over it - ha).

Last night's practice probably gave the first true glimpse of things to come as the Red Raiders scrimmaged in full pads for nearly 40 minutes. There were a lot of big plays last night both offensively and defensively and you could certainly tell that the guys were ready for some full contact. The biggest play of the night, however, came from a true freshman - yes, that's right a freshman. Running back Eric Stephens took a handoff on about the 15 yard line and with a huge hit by safety Daniel Cobb (a hit that would have normally laid anyone out) and was able to keep his footing and dodged his way into the end zone. Watching the play reminded me of the old video game "Frogger" and was also reminiscent of a play by Texas' Colt McCloy against the Red Raiders in Austin back in 2007. The play by Stephens electrified the hundreds of Tech fans who came out to watch and drew a large ovation.

Just shows you how talented this freshman class is and what a bright future is ahead for this program.

The squad hit the practice field again today at 3:30 but word is floating around that tomorrow's workout might be cancelled in order to give the guys a break. Coach Leach typically does this at least one during training camp in order as both a reward and way to help keep their legs fresh. More to come as soon as we know something definite.

If you haven't purchased your tickets to Thursday's kickoff luncheon at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center, you still have plenty of time. Contact the Red Raider Club at (806) 742-1196 and they will take care of you. Hearing the Goin' Band From Raiderland for the first time at the kickoff luncheon each year, really seems bring home the fact that football season is here. So get your tickets today!

Autograph Night: Don't forget that autograph night is this Friday on the field in Jones AT&T Stadium. Click here for details

Pirate of the Day: Thomas Jones
Jones began his career as a Major in the Irish army that fought unsuccessfully for James the 2nd. He was exiled and later fought for the British King William the 3rd and received a permission to steal good as long as it was from the French and for the British Empire. He continued stealing and later bought an estate along Massapeaqua on Long Island. Jones was accepted into society because of his lavish riches and the strip of land in Long Island is now apart of the National Park System.

Red Raider Football In The Media
Collier on comeback trail from two rough years (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)
Stephens' tackle-busting TD highlights scrimmage (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)
Notebook (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)
Franklin grad trying to make it at Texas Tech (El Paso Times)

| Sunday, Aug. 16 - Day 10

Photo Gallery

There is a reason they call these "the dog days of summer." With temperatures hovering around triple digits, today's practice certainly felt like one of the warmest ones we have had so far. And once the team moved down to the turf at Jones AT&T Stadium - it only got hotter.

I think one of the things I like about Mike Leach is his philosophy on practicing outdoors in the elements. So many schools have or are building big elaborate indoor practice facilities but that is something that has never been a big priority of our head pirate. His philosophy is simple - you don't get to play indoors on Saturday so why practice indoors.

You have to like that!

One of the more interesting things of camp has been the amount of quarterback work that is being handled by former QB Sunny Cumbie. Sunny is the new offensive graduate assistant and has spent a a lot of time going through drills with all six of our gun slingers. For the first time in the Leach era, he has a former quarterback (with playing time) handing out advice and I am sure that will pay dividends. And will probably make for a lot of news stories as the season progresses.

And speaking of quarterbacks, Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman has a great article on Taylor Potts today. You can find that link below.

I have heard several people say that they are starting to get their season tickets in the mail. If you haven't purchased yours there is still time to do so - just call the Texas Tech Athletics Ticket Office or purchase them here at

Pirate of the Day: William Dampier
The Old Pyrating Dog led a very controversial life as his shipmates had a low opinion but he was often invited to high profile events. He was captain of the HMS Roebuck but the ship sprung a leak and sunk. He treated his crew very maliciously and was found to be unfit to command. His next voyage was a disaster as he wasted much of the money used for the trip on refitting himself. His next trip was quite an adventure as he was sentenced to a deserted island for five years. Dampier was going to be taken to court for sabotaging previous trips but died before heading to court. He did write two journals named "A New Voyage around the World" (1697), and "Voyage to New Holland" (1709).

Red Raider Football In The Media
Barr drawing comparisons to former specialist (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)
Tech notes: Mitchell delays call on starting corner (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)
Notebook (Red Raider Sports)
Potts in that same Texas Tech mold (Austin American-Statesman)

| Saturday, Aug. 15 - Day Nine

Well folks, we apologize for not having a blog entry last night but considering the fact that practice did not end until 11:30 p.m. - we figured most of you were asleep anyway. Some of you may be wondering why so late? Coach Leach made the decision on Thursday to move Friday's workout back to 8 p.m. from its originally scheduled time of 3:45 p.m. The team started on the grass practice fields near the football training facility and the moved over to the stadium after the fourth period. The purpose of the evening practice was two-fold: give the team a break from the heat and to test out the new lighting that has been installed in the stadium.

With the new building being constructed on the east side, the three old light standards had to be replaced. In their place are just two standards with one standing in the northeast corner and the other in the southeast corner of the stadium. The lighting looks just like that at Oklahoma's Memorial Stadium.

Being inside the stadium for the first time you could certainly tell the difference. The field seems to have the same brightness as in the past but the stands on the east side are noticeably darker due to the fact that the lights are no longer centered there.

The construction is proceeding along quite nicely and later this evening we will have a photo gallery along with this blog entry so that you can get an idea for yourself. So check back later!

As far as today's practice went, offensively things went much smoother that last night. The receiving corps struggled throughout the entire practice last night and that led to some extra work on the tail end of things. Despite the quick turnaround from Friday evening, the squad seemed surprisingly energetic and focused. I think that is a good sign of the leadership that is on this 2009 team.

Senior offensive lineman Brandon Carter returned to practice this afternoon after sitting out the previous two days. Carter is one of those leaders I just talked about and his presence on the field is intense.

If you haven't purchased your season tickets, please call the Texas Tech Athletics Department as soon as possible. The Red Raiders need your support at every single game and are ready for you to rock the Jones in 2009.

T-minus 21 days until the season opener against North Dakota.

Red Raider Football In The Media
Leach has praise for raw freshman receiver (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)
Unheralded Mays making most of time, opportunities in camp (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)
Red Raiders Notebook (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)
End result: Tech DE sheds weight, adds speed after switch from DT (Dallas Morning News)

| Thursday, Aug. 13- Day Seven

The Red Raiders wrapped up their sixth practice of the season shortly before 7 p.m. this evening on the practice fields south of the football training facility. After the varsity wrapped up around 6 p.m., the newcomers stayed on the field for an extra 45 minutes as they continue to learn the system.

Leach told the team that today's practice was "up and down" and they needed to focus on execution heading into tomorrow's session. Tomorrow night's practice has been moved to 8 p.m. with the first four periods being held on the practice fields and then the squad will move to Jones AT&T Stadium. The purpose for the night practice is to allow the team and coaches to get a feel for the new lighting that was installed on the eastside over the summer. Two giant light standards (one on each corner) replaced the three that were nestled directly behind the east stands.

Backup quarterback Steven Sheffield had a nice afternoon for the offense as he completed several big plays - including impressive passes to Tramain Swindall and Adam James. Brandon Sharpe had a solid practice as well and is going to be a big factor at defensive end.

The Honors Keep Rolling In: Congratulations to junior receiver Detron Lewis who was named a candidate for the 2009 Biletnikoff Award. Should he win the award this season, that would make three in a row for Texas Tech as Michael Crabtree won the award in each of the last two years. Lewis is one of seven receivers from the Big 12 Conference named to the list: Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier of Kansas, Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant, Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles, Texas' Jordan Shipley and Kansas State's Brandon Banks

Pirate of the Day: William Kidd
Captain Kidd was first originally employed to rid the sea of pirates but changed his mind after a near mutiny. He was captain of a powerful ship named the Adventure Galley. Kidd's greatest accomplishment when he went after the Quedagh Merchant, which was a huge treasure ship weighing 400 tons. He captured the ship and treasure but the treasure belonged to the British East India Company. Captain Kidd was captured and sent back to England and sentenced to death.

Red Raider Football In The Media
Jeffers hopes to prove his worth in backfield (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)
Football Notebook (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)
Season Preview - (Dallas Morning News)
Notebook (Red Raider Sports)

| Wednesday, Aug. 12- Day Six

Cloudy skies were a welcome relief to the Red Raiders this afternoon as they wrapped up their sixth day of fall camp and fifth practice. Practice was actually called a earlier than normal due to a storm that was producing some heavy lightning and thunder in the area. Since Sunday, Coach Leach has worked the freshmen for about an hour after the varsity was finished so today they got a bit of a breather due to the storm.

Today's practice was a live session all across the board and full of big hits and big plays on both sides of the ball. Senior receiver Edward Britton is having a great camp so far and turned in several nice plays today to lead the offense.

Craig James, the father of inside receiver Adam James, was back at practice today after being away for a couple of days of ESPN meetings. The younger James should see significant playing time for the Red Raiders this season.

Have you noticed that? Texas Tech Defensive Coordinator Ruffin McNeil has lost 40 pounds since April with the help of football strength coach Bennie Wylie. McNeil is more active than ever now out on the practice fields with his defensive unit. Way to go Coach Ruff!

Pirate of the Day: John Rackham aka Calico Jack
He was given the nickname Calico Jack for his love of calico coats and britches. Rackham is best known for his association with two of the best known female pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read. He took his first ship Treasure thanks to the incompetence of the previous captain and was voted in to power by the crew mates. Calico Jack later gave up control to Bonny and Read. He was captured and taken to Jamaica were he was sentenced to hang.

Red Raider Football In The Media
Dallas Morning News - Big guns may have left, but Texas Tech is locked 'n' reloaded
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal - Bullitt, Waddle starting new family
Longview News-Journal - Carter Outland Finalist
Red Raider Sports - Freshman Focus - S Terrance Bullit
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal- Red Raider Notebook

| Tuesday, Aug. 11- Day Five - Texas Monthly, Here Leach Comes!

Big news for the Texas Tech Football program and Head Coach Mike Leach. Coach Leach will be on the cover of the September issue of Texas Monthly Magazine - a first for Leach and the Tech football program. The cover poses the thought that Leach just might be the "best college football coach in the country." Well we certainly think so here in West Texas and now our friends (and enemies) across the state will have the chance to read more about him. Leach will also head to Austin later this month for a taping of the Texas Monthly Television Show and we will have more details on that later.

More good news on the award watch list as Brandon Carter became the third Red Raider named to a preseason watch list. Carter was named a preseason candidate for the Outland Trophy which honors the nation's top offensive lineman. If you are wondering at home, Tech's three players on the preseason watch lists is more that the Red Raiders had a year ago (Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree were Tech's only two preseason candidates for the major awards). Taylor Potts is on the Davey O'Brien list while running back Baron Batch made the Doak Walker list.

And now to practice.

After the first four periods on the practices fields, the Red Raiders headed over to Jones AT&T Stadium for the first time during this training camp. The field had been unavailable until today due to the Bob Dylan concert that was held on Saturday evening. Tech spent about 2 ½ hours on the stadium turf with practice wrapping up around 7 p.m.

Hoefer Heads To Memphis: Senior receiver Landon Hoefer has called it quits to his playing career and accepted a defensive graduate assistant position at the University of Memphis this morning. He will work directly with the secondary and actually will report to training camp tomorrow in Memphis. Congratulations to Landon Hoefer.

Big Hit: Redshirt freshman safety Cody Davis delivered a hit reminiscent of Dwayne Slay's big blow to Kansas State Quarterback Allen Everidge in 2005 here at Jones AT&T Stadium. Davis just about took fellow redshirt freshman receiver Austin Zouzalik out of his skin just as he tried to haul in a pass at midfield. The blow was so loud it could almost be felt. That's a big reason why Davis is penciled in as the starting safety.

Pirate of the Day: Henry Morgan
The King of All Pirates started out as a lowly solider in the British army and at the end of his reign was a knight. He attacked the cities of Vilahermosa and Gran Granada and profited highly form the escapades. Morgan's greatest accomplishment was the taking of Panama. He led 36 ships and over 2,000 buccaneers to battle with the Spaniards. The pirates withstood gun fights and a stampede of 2,000 bulls to take the city. For his work, Morgan was knighted by King Charles II and was named lieutenant of Jamaica.

Red Raider Football In The Media
Notebook - Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
How Will Tech Replace Harrell and Crabtree? - The Bleacher Report

| Monday, Aug. 10 - Day Four

The longest practice so far of training camp also produced two of the longest offensive plays to date as the Red Raiders wrapped up the fourth day of fall practice.

The Red Raiders donned shoulder pads for the first time and there were several big hits right off the bat. Coincidentally, some of the big hits came from the newcomers so it's obvious that this group is hungry for action and ready to make contributions for the Red Raiders this fall.

Today's practice was lengthy with extended periods of time being spent on the team period and on special teams. During the team period, we saw our first action of first team offense against the first team defense - although that lasted just three plays. Redshirt freshman running back Harrison Jeffers, who generated a lot of talk after a successful spring, broke two long runs for touchdowns during the period and showed tremendous speed in the open field. Junior receiver Detron Lewis posted the other big play as the caught a pass from Seth Doege in the middle of the field and then evaded two defenders for a long touchdown run.

Celebrity of the day: Today's practice was attended by former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who was hired as a political science professor at Texas Tech earlier this summer.

Side Note: If one were to go into Jones AT&T Stadium right now, you would never know there was a huge concert here on Saturday night that drew over 16,000 fans. The staging and flooring for "The Bob Dylan Show" has been removed and the goalposts went back up today. The Jones now awaits the Red Raiders on Sept. 5.

Pirate of the Day: Bartholomew Roberts
Black Bart was perhaps the most successful pirate of the time, with the capture of over 400 ships and over 50 million Pounds of loot. He encouraged prayer, drank a lot of tea instead of alcohol, and forbid drinking and gambling. He preferred to wear fancy gentleman's clothes: a rich crimson waistcoat and breeches, a hat with a red feather, and a diamond cross hanging from his neck.

Red Raider Football In The Media
Coach Likes Graves' Attitude, Ability - Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
Fierce Battle Brews At Receiver - Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
Crabtree Named To All-Decade Team - CBS Sportsline
Lewis Embracing Expectations - Red Raider Sports

| Sunday, Aug. 9 - Day Three

Well the second full day of practice is in the books and it was another hot one. Thankfully a breeze kept the temperatures from getting too warm. A late storm cloud came up but unfortunately it was at the end of practice and the cooler temperatures at that point didn't do anyone much good.

One of the biggest differences in practice this year is the heavy emphasis on special teams. Eric Russell, the new special teams coach, has turned up the intensity on that side of the ball and is really working that unit. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top of the punter and placekicker battles.

Play of the Day: The receivers were working on fade routes against coverage in the south end zone of the west practice field. Sophomore inside receiver Adam James made a spectacular catch on a ball that was thrown well behind him. He had to turn across his body where he was able to get a few fingers on the ball and haul it it.

His father Craig James, a college football analyst for ABC Sports, was standing right there and was able to see the play. Obviously, that drew a pretty big grin from dad.

Want to learn more about this year's squad?:2009 Media Supplement

Pirate of the Day: Stede Bonnet aka Gentleman Pirate
Bonnet was a pirate with little experience being on the sea but was a very educated man. Instead of stealing a ship like most pirates he paid for his ship legally naming it Revenge. The Gentleman Pirate befriended Blackbeard during his adventures but Blackbeard realized his lack of experience and took over his ship. Bonnet was able to recapture his ship and went after Blackbeard but failed to catch him. He was later captured by the Colonel of South Carolina and put on trial and convicted of piracy.

Red Raider Football In The Media
Raiders More Determined - Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
Notebook - Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
Fast Start For Potts, Red Raiders - Red Raider Sports
Big 12 North vs. Big 12 South - Dallas Morning News
Power Packed - Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

| Saturday, Aug. 8 - First Official Practice

Ah the sweet sound of that first whistle. Practice has begun.

The entire Texas Tech Football coaching staff had a spring in their step this morning as they headed into the first full day of meetings and practice. They are determined to prove to the rest of the doubting sports world that the 2008 season was no fluke. The Red Raiders are for real.

Treatment began at 7 a.m. this morning while position meetings got underway at 11:30 a.m. The first whistle at practice was heard at 12:01 p.m..

Taylor Potts is now the general leading Tech's deadly offensive attack as he replaces a three-year starter in Graham Harrell (last year's Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner). Potts has a rocket for an arm so it should be fun to watch the next 25 practices as he develops for our season opener against North Dakota on Sept. 5.

Today's schedule will be a little bit shorter than usual due to a very big event going on over on the floor of Jones AT&T Stadium. For the first time since 1987, a concert is being held in the stadium and it features three of the greatest musicians/songwriters of all time. Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson will rock the Jones tonight beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Ironically the last concert at Jones AT&T Stadium (back in 1987) featured Willie Nelson and tonight he returns to kick off "The Bob Dylan Show." Less than a thousand tickets remain for tonight's concert according to this morning's Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Pulling on to campus today sure had the feeling of a football game day. Let's get it started!

Want to learn more about this year's squad?:2009 Media Supplement

Pirate of the Day: Blackbeard
Edward Teach better known as Blackbeard was a notorious pirate who sailed the western Atlantic and Caribbean seas. He had a reputation of doing anything necessary to get what he wanted. Blackbeard had a blockade in Charleston where he held numerous captives for medicine, food and drink. The Queen Anne's Revenge was Blackbeard's most famous vessel that he ran aground near Beaufort Inlet accepting a pardon. He was killed in a battle at sea years later by the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia after a gun shot wound.

Red Raider Football In The Media
Karam Feature - Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
Notebook - Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
Notebook- Red Raider Sports
Fans Fired UP For Concert At Jones AT&T Tonight- Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

| Friday, Aug. 7 - Reporting Day


Since the final seconds ticked off the clock at Cotton Bowl Stadium - the Red Raiders (and Red Raider fans everywhere) have been looking forward to this day. After weeks of grueling spring and summer workouts, the season has officially begun and football is the talk of the town.

A total of 105 players officially checked into training camp today at the Football Training Facility and the first practice will get underway tomorrow at 12:20 p.m. Jones AT&T Stadium looks like a war zone with the construction underway on the east side and the Bob Dylan Show getting ready for tomorrow night's historic concert. Fans that plan to attend practice tomorrow need to be aware that parking will be an issue - so please come early and be patient.

The players will have a team dinner tonight on the press level of the football stadium and then a team meeting at 8 p.m.

And then tomorrow - work begins.

Side Note: If you would like to print a roster to bring with you tomorrow to practice please do so - there will not be any available on the practice field. Numerical Roster

Aye Matey: Senior cornerback Jamar Wall came in with a new set of earrings hoping to adhere to an old pirate saying of "pirates believed that wearing pierced earrings would improve their eyesight," as he looks for more interceptions this season.

Red Raider Football In The Media
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
USA Today
Kansas City Star
New York Times



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