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Washington, Wallace set tone for Tech defensive tackles

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Texas — Don Williams Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Texas

May 17--The only place where the Texas Tech football team loses a defensive starter from last season going into next season is at defensive tackle.

Even at that, the Red Raiders might not lose a step based on what Kliff Kingsbury observed during the spring. Broderick Washington's a returning starter, and sophomore Joe Wallace, after a redshirt season, showed signs this spring of being ready to step in and pair up with him.

When Kingsbury was asked last week who sets the tone for the defensive line, Washington, Wallace and defensive end Eli Howard were the players he named.

"Broderick's a big, tough, nasty attitude type guy on the field," Kingsbury said. "He does a good job of playing mean, playing tough.

"Joe Wallace had a tremendous spring. He's incredibly explosive, incredibly strong. He made some nice plays."

Washington and rush end Kolin Hill co-led Tech defensive linemen in tackles last season with 44, and Washington registered two sacks.

Now Washington might be in for a subtle position switch. The 6-foot-3, 305-pound junior from Longview started last year at defensive tackle, which normally plays a 3- or 4-technique in the Red Raiders' defensive front. That position lines up outside an offensive guard's shoulder, or a little wider, opposite a tackle.

Kingsbury now lists Washington as the first-team nose tackle, the spot 2017 senior Mych Thomas manned last year. In the Tech front, that position's typically a 1-technique, lined up off a center's shoulder.

In short, if it stays that way, Washington would take Thomas' place, and Wallace would step in to Washington's.

Kingsbury said he's pumped up about the depth at the interior positions, too.

Preston Gordon, a 28-game starter the past three years at Rice, is scheduled to join the Red Raiders in June as a graduate transfer. Kingsbury listed him behind both Washington and Wallace, though coaches won't decide which place Gordon plays more until they see him in pads.

The 6-1, 280-pound Frisco Heritage product got credit for 34 tackles, including 4 1/2 tackles for loss, last season.

"He's athletic, very smart, good with his hands," Kingsbury said. "Kind of a solid guy. When you watch him at Rice, he makes plays, plays really hard, so I think he'll fit in good in that room."

Kingsbury said he expects defensive tackle to be "some combination of Joe and Preston."

Nick McCann came out of spring second at nose tackle behind Washington. The 6-2, 310-pound sophomore played in 10 games last year as a backup and gained favorable reviews during the spring.

"He's made a ton of progress," Kingsbury said. "He's gotten a lot stronger. A lot of his deal is about conditioning and being able to play every snap to the whistle and be consistent day in and day out with his practice habits.

"But he flashed this spring and we know he can do it. It's just consistently going out there and having the right mentality, playing hard every play."

Kingsbury said redshirt freshman Nelson Mbanasor will factor in at defensive tackle, and sophomore Houston Miller will be looking for time at nose tackle.

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