The Dallas Morning News
Transfer from Oregon impresses Tech staff with eager approach
Tyler Shough’s research told him Texas Tech would be the right place for him. The former Oregon quarterback gets a chance to prove himself right in the Red Raiders’ spring game Saturday.
As soon as Tyler Shough’s name hit the NCAA transfer portal, the suitors lined up for the Oregon quarterback.
In a process in which things such as personal relationships and geography play big roles, Shough choose Texas Tech as his next landing spot.
He had met coach Matt Wells — once — at a high school recruiting camp when Wells was still at Utah State. That’s about it.
“I did my own research on the coaching staff here and the guys,” Shough said recently, “but I didn’t really have any connection.”
The bigger question is about the connection that Shough has developed, with Tech’s spring scrimmage set for Saturday in Lubbock and the quarterback competition still in progress.
In a crowded quarterback room, Shough and Henry Colombi, who started four games last season, bring the most experience. Like so many coaches, Wells is not handicapping the race outside of what he wants in a quarterback.
Wells says he values their leadership and accuracy, while holding greater regard for accuracy over arm strength.
The decision is likely to come in preseason camp and has major ramifications for the program.
Tech hasn’t had a winning football season since 2015 and hasn’t been .500 or better in the Big 12 since 2009, Mike Leach’s final season in Lubbock.
The fans are restless. After last season’s 4-6 finish, some wanted Wells gone after just two seasons. Instead, offensive coordinator David Yost was let go, with former Red Raider Sonny Cumbie returning from TCU with his version of the Air Raid with some modifications over the years.
One key is quarterback. After battling injuries throughout his career and briefly losing his starting job last season, Alan Bowman transferred to Michigan.
Then Shough (pronounced Shuck) came on board, with size (6-5), athleticism, arm talent as a four-star recruit out of Chandler, Ariz., and starting experience at Oregon.
He backed up NFL firstround draft pick Justin Herbert for two seasons. Last year, Shough led the Pac-12 in passer rating and helped Oregon to a win in the conference title game, although the Ducks alternated quarterbacks late in the season. Afterward, Shough weighed his options.
“Moving forward, I had to make the best decision for me,” he said.
So he left and spent a whole lot of time on a 21-hour car ride from Oregon to Arizona fielding offers on the phone. His checklist: a chance to compete, the coaching staff and supporting cast.
“Coach Cumbie and Coach Wells, they were honest,” Shough said. “They were truthful. That’s what I was looking for.”
Despite last season’s record, he saw plenty to like about Tech on film.
“Because I thought the team was a great team, and we’re really on the brink of something here,” he said. “Just watching Texas Tech team film — you don’t like to say it — but it’s almost like you’re just there. The guys on the team, the skill guys coming back.”
His spring start was delayed because he had to finish classes and graduate at Oregon, before enrolling in compressed end-of-semester grad school classes at Tech.
The opening reviews are pretty good, even with the late start. He and Colombi have alternated working with the No. 1s in practice.
“Once he got here and we got the green light, I don’t think you’ve seen a player that’s been in our facility more than he has in terms of study, in terms of watching film,” Cumbie said. “You have to run him off the practice field.”
Cumbie noted that work ethic to the other quarterbacks and how Shough got at least some of that from watching Herbert.
“The dude just graduated from Oregon,” Cumbie said. “He’s in grad school and then he’s taking basically grad school football. It wasn’t a deal where we slowed it down to him, either. We just threw him on the train and kept going.”