Syndication: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Texas Tech running back Tahj Brooks will return for another year of eligibility in 2024 after a breakout senior season with the Red Raiders. Brooks announced the decision with a video posted to his social media on Monday.

After being a steady contributor for three years, Brooks exploded in Texas Tech's offense as a fourth-year player as the Manor, Texas, native rushed for 1,443 yards and nine touchdowns in 12 games. The mark was good enough to rank No. 4 nationally, trailing only top 10 Heisman finishers Ollie Gordon II and Cody Schrader from the Power Five ranks. 

"This is an exciting day for our program with Tahj announcing his return for next season," Texas Tech coach Joey McGuire said in a statement. "From our conversations in recent weeks, it was clear that Tahj wants to leave a legacy here at Texas Tech and that a return for next season would help him do just that. Not only is Tahj one of the nation's top running backs, but he is a phenomenal teammate and leader of this program."

Brooks enters his final season with a chance to climb up the all-time Texas Tech statistical leaderboard and even challenge for the top spot. With 2,957 yards rushing in his career, Brooks ranks No. 7 on the all-time leaderboard. He needs 1,262 yards rushing over the next season to take over the top spot, held by Byron Hanspard with 4,219 yards rushing. 

Listed at 5-foot-10 and 230 pounds, Brooks is a small but powerful back who proved capable of handling an every-down load. Despite the intense focus put on him because of quarterback injuries, Brooks still averaged 5.4 yards per carry as a senior. 

Revamped offense

Texas Tech disappointed in 2023, following up a breakout 8-5 campaign by limping to a bowl at 6-6. However, Brooks' return is a major boost for an offense under Zach Kittley that could grow significantly in 2024. Quarterback Behren Morton should take over the full-time job at quarterback after Tyler Shough's transfer and nearly all of his top targets are back as well. 

Major additions are also on the way. Texas Tech has a commitment from the No. 16 player in the 2024 recruiting class -- wide receiver Micah Hudson from Temple, Texas. Texas Tech has already been active in the transfer portal, landing Arizona State tight end Jalin Conyers, a West Texas native by way of Gruver, Texas, far north in the Panhandle. Conyers posted 362 yards receiving at ASU. 

Still, Brooks is the star of the show and gives Kittley something to build around. No other player on the roster posted more than 250 yards rushing, so his return also gives Texas Tech an opportunity to build some depth at the position before he finally leaves the program. 

Big moment

The 2024 season marks a major season in several different avenues for Texas Tech. It's the first year of the 16-team Big 12 as Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah join the league. Additionally, it's the first year of the 12-team College Football Playoff. Just as significant, it's the first year that Texas Tech will not have to compete with Texas and Oklahoma in conference. 

Texas Tech has a major opportunity to redefine its place in the new Big 12 in McGuire's third season, and Brooks returning for another year helps their case significantly. Texas Tech plays Oregon on the road on Sept. 7 as a marquee nonconference tilt. A strong performance from Brooks could get him onto the Heisman Trophy or Doak Campbell radar.