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The Texas Tech Red Raiders will begin the 2022 season and the coach Joey McGuire era Saturday night in Lubbock against the Murray State Racers. Members of the Ohio Valley Conference, the Racers went 6-5 last season.

Though McGuire made it clear Monday that the Red Raiders will do everything but underestimate Murray State, who enter the season-opener as a clear underdog on the road, he still revealed that all three quarterbacks will take the field for the Red Raiders on Saturday. 

With this kind of experimental approach, Tech fans could see a slew of players from other positions get action in the first game of the season that they otherwise would not be getting when the deeper parts of conference play roll around. 

On the surface, this could include true freshman receiver Coy Eakin. But if he lives up to the praises that McGuire has rained on him, his prove-it opportunity could carry over into the most important parts of the season.

"Coy brings a lot to the table," McGuire said. "This is a kid that led the nation - and for whatever reason was an under-recruited kid - but led the nation in receiving yards and catches and he brings a lot to the table when it comes to wide receiver, but also ... in the return game." 

Eakin had one of the best individual seasons a senior receiver can have at the high school level in 2021 at Stephenville High School. Like McGuire said, the 6-2, 200-pound pass-catcher led the league in receiving yards with 2,140 yards on 93 catches and a whopping receiving 31 touchdowns. 

He capped this off with a win in the 4A Division 1 state title game, as Eakin had nine passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns while adding one on the ground to give Stephenville the championship and a perfect 16-0 record.

Exactly one-third of his catches resulted in touchdowns last year. And yet, his list of major offers included Tech, TCU, Washington State, North Texas, and others. 

As a true freshman, Eakin is certainly in the realm of choosing to red shirt once he plays in a max of four games. But McGuire admitted that based on his play in practice, Eakin may not need to waste a year on the sidelines when he could instead contribute to the cause on the field right away. 

"I would expect him to possibly play in four games and redshirt, but if he does what he's been doing in practice, then there's a chance he doesn't redshirt at all," McGuire said.

Eakin's clear play-making ability combined with his size could make him a dangerous returner in the kicking game as well. For McGuire, it's a "natural" look. 

"I feel good about our returners, but throwing him back there he's just natural at it," McGuire said. "He's a big body."

Should he remain game-ready for the season, Eakin will have to compete for playing time with receivers like J.J. Sparkman, Trey Cleveland, Loic Fouonji, and Myles Price.

But for McGuire to feel like avoiding the redshirt would be in Eakin's best interest speaks volumes to how the first-year head coach views him as a player. Tech fans could soon be watching closely for Eakin to break one open for a touchdown, something he did more often than not as a high school star. 

That first opportunity could come as soon as Saturday, as the Red Raiders and Racers take the field for kickoff at 7 p.m. C.T. at Jones AT&T Stadium. 

You can follow Zach Dimmitt on Twitter at @ZachDimmitt7

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