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NCAA Football Big 12 FootballTexas Tech Red Raiders

Eric Ward Darkhorse Biletnikoff Award Finalist for Texas Tech Red Raiders

Shanna Lockwood – USA TODAY Sports

With the return of Kliff Kingsbury to Lubbock, the Texas Tech Red Raiders will be making a return to the high-flying ways of the Air Raid offense of the early 2000′s. The biggest benefactor of that offensive shift will be wide receiver Eric Ward who returns as the leading receiver for the Red Raiders in 2013. How far will he rise next season? Perhaps to the very top of the wide receiver class as a Biletnikoff Award finalist.

Ward eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the first time in his career and is the first returning 1,000-yard receiver at Texas Tech since Michael Crabtree in 2008. He finished the year with 82 receptions for 1,053 yards and 12 touchdowns. He will be the unquestioned No. 1 receiver next fall in Kingsbury’s revamped offense and should be a constant deep threat poised to make big play after big play.

He is aided in his quest by the departure of Darrin Moore, the only player who caught more passes than Ward last season. His 92 catches for 1,032 yards and 13 touchdowns will have to be replace somewhere and Ward is in a perfect position to step right in and replace that production. The emergence of Jace Amaro at tight end will also help Ward avoid double teams and keep safeties down towards the line of scrimmage, opening up the big plays behind them.

The Texas Tech offense will be designed for big plays in the passing game and Eric Ward is poised to take advantage of that. Will he take off in 2013 and bring home a Biletnikoff Award next December?

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