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LA Tech Roster Breakdown

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Louisiana Tech is in pretty good shape for 2015 with several key players coming back. With veteran quarterback Jeff Driskel added to the mix, Louisiana Tech Head Coach Skip Holtz is looking to once again contend for a Conference USA Championship.

Jeff Driskel will be in blue this year at Louisiana Tech.
Jeff Driskel will be in blue this year at Louisiana Tech.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback

Jeff Driskel, a fifth year transfer from Florida, was added to the roster this month and will compete for the starting quarterback position. Price Wilson was the odds on favorite to start the season before the Driskel news broke. Now the redshirt freshman from Georgia will have to beat out the former Gator quarterback.

2013 starter Ryan Higgins remains on the roster and will also be given a chance to earn the starting quarterback job. The 4th year junior could also transfer to a FCS school and have two years to play. Alex Woodall, another redshirt freshman, could also be a factor in the quarterback race. The 6'5" Mississippi native could also have a future at tight end.

Running Back

Kenneth Dixon announced he was coming back for his senior year, so the running back position is set. The big question is: Who will be the backup? Blake Martin is also coming back for his senior year while Jarred Craft will look to build on his solid freshman campaign.

Tywun Walters redshirted in 2014, but the 218-pound Mississippi native could make a big impact in 2015.

Wide Receiver

Paul Turner and Carlos Henderson each had over 500 yards receiving in 2014 and the duo could be special this time around. A healthy Turner and a more season Henderson could spell trouble for the rest of Conference USA.

Marlon Watts and Marcus Gaines got valuable experience as true freshmen last year and will look to be valuable targets for Tech quarterbacks this season. Sanford Seay will look to rebound after a disappointing junior season.

Inside Receiver

Trent Taylor led the team with 834 yards receiving and 9 touchdowns. The Shreveport native will once again be a top target for the Tech offense in 2015. Hunter Lee has graduated but looking to fill his shoes will be redshirt freshman Kam McKnight. The 6-2 McKnight could use his combination of size and athleticism to be a force in the Tech passing attack.

6-3 Conner Smith, 6-3 Josh Gaston, and 6-6 redshirt freshman Michael Rodriguez provide big targets across the middle. Smith saw limited playing time in 2014, while Rodriguez (a future offensive tackle) will be a help in run blocking.

Offensive Line

Tre Carter and Mitchell Bell move on, but there is plenty of depth coming back for new offensive line coach Robert McFarland. Tackles Jens Danielson and Darrell Brown both have starting experience. They will be pushed by sophomore Chris Aye, redshirt freshman Shane Carpenter, and LSU transfer Derek Edinburgh, Jr.

Inside, David Mahaffey, Joseph Brunson, and Kirby Wixson all return. Senior Josh Robinson could end up starting at guard or tackle (he finished the season starting at right tackle in place of the suspended Bell) and gives his new coach plenty of options. Guard Deonte McCready and center Cam Manning are two young guys that have a chance to break into the two deep.

Defensive Line

Vernon Butler and Vontarrius Dora return, giving the Bulldogs two All-Conference caliber starters up front. Inside, the defensive tackle position is a little up in the air outside of Butler. Suspended players Malcolm Pichon and Aaron Brown are the only other experienced players on the roster. Young guys Hakim Gray and Cedric Johnson could be called upon to play early and often for the Bulldogs.

At end, Dora will be joined by sophomore Deldrick Canty. The Baton Rouge native had four tackles for loss in 2014 including three sacks. Redshirt freshman Jaylon Ferguson is likely to backup Dora, while Coach Holtz might have to turn to the 2015 recruiting class to find depth behind Canty.

Linebacker

LA Tech must replace all three starters at linebacker, but they have an experienced players at all three positions. Beau Fitte, Nick Thomason, and CJ Cleveland all return in 2015. The trio combined for 132 tackles in mostly reserve roles.

Like Deldrick Canty, Russell Farris earned valuable playing time as a freshman and will push for a starting spot. Solomon Hunter and middle linebacker Quanta Moore both redshirted in 2014 and will have a chance to break into the 2-deep. Another possibility is Lloyd Grogan could move from safety to outside linebacker in order to get more experience on the field.

Safety

With Xavier Woods and Kentrell Brice returning, safety is the strongest position on the defense. Woods and Brice, both north Louisiana natives, were the top two tacklers on the team in 2014.  If the 6-1 211-pound Grogan remains at safety, it will also be the deepest position on the team.

Michael Mims and Secdrick Cooper both got on the field as freshmen and will provide quality depth at safety. Both players will likely be key special teams players as well.

Cornerback

Levander Liggins and Colby Brown move on, but Bryson Abraham and Adarius Barnes will both return for their senior season in 2015. Barnes had 14 pass breakups and 5 interceptions while Abraham added 7 breakups and 2 interceptions last season.

Young guys Kirkland McCulloch, Roland Dunn, and Michael Jacob will likely compete for the backup spots. As is the case at defensive end, don't rule out a member of the 2015 signing class  winning a spot in the 2 deep at cornerback.

Special Teams

Jonathan Barnes and Kyle Fischer will both be back at kicker. Barnes was 12-17 on the year kicking field goals. Fischer was just 5-10 but he did have a long of 51 yards.

Logan McPherson and Gerald Shouse both return at punter, McPherson was the starter in 2014 and had an average of 36.8 yards per punt. Shouse averaged 41.3 yards on just six attempts.

Carlos Henderson averaged 25.0 yards on kick returns and he took one back for a touchdown.  Trent Taylor averaged 7.6 yards on punt returns. Henderson and Taylor will likely handle the return duties again in 2015, but it is possible someone else could take over punt return duties if the coaching staff decides to keep Trent Taylor fresh. Taylor caught 64 passes as a sophomore.