LUBBOCK - Texas Tech’s improvements on the defensive side of the ball were noticed Thursday as four Red Raiders, including three defensive standouts, were named to the All-Big 12 second team in a vote by the league coaches.
The list of recipients featured junior linebacker Dakota Allen, junior defensive back Jah’Shawn Johnson and sophomore defensive back Justus Parker to go along with junior wide receiver Keke Coutee. It marked the first time since 2012 where Tech has had three or more defensive players earn first or second team honors.
This is the first career postseason honor for both Allen and Parker and the second for Coutee and Johnson, who have each earned honorable mention nods in years past. Johnson was an honorable mention pick following his redshirt freshman season in 2015, while Coutee was similarly recognized just a year ago.
The Red Raiders have transformed into one of the top defensive teams in the country this season in terms of forcing turnovers as Tech has 27 takeaways, an impressive 14 more than its total from the entire 2015 campaign. The plus-14 improvement in takeaways marks the largest improvement among teams in a power-five conference this season.
Parker has led the way in the turnover category for the Red Raiders as he has notched four forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and four interceptions, all of which have come during Big 12 play. Parker, whose most notable takeaway came last Friday with a game-changing interception against Texas, also has 42 tackles, sixth-most on the team, as well as four pass breakups and three quarterback hurries this season.
Allen has also played a significant role in Tech’s defensive rise as he leads the Red Raiders with 93 tackles, including six that have gone for a loss. He’s recorded a pair of sacks and four pass breakups as well, while also contributing to Tech’s takeaway count with two interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Johnson ranks right behind Allen in tackles as he has 89 on the season for a Tech defense that has held its last three opponents to less than 30 points. He also forced a fumble in the season opener versus Eastern Washington and then chipped in five pass breakups, which ranks third on the team.
Coutee, meanwhile, has been among the top receivers in the country this season as he ranks sixth nationally and second in the Big 12 with 1,242 receiving yards to go along with his nine receiving touchdowns. Coutee has blistered opposing defenses for 150 yards or more through the air four times this season, the most among Big 12 receivers.
In addition to the four second-team selections, 14 other Red Raiders – Madison Akamnonu, Cameron Batson, Jordyn Brooks, Travis Bruffy, Dylan Cantrell, Vaughnte Dorsey, Kolin Hill, Eli Howard, Dominic Panazzolo, Nic Shimonek, Paul Stawarz, Justin Stockton, Mychealon Thomas and Broderick Washington Jr. – all earned honorable mention accolades.