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Eric Ward plans his own path from Texas Tech to NFL

DALLAS -- Texas Tech has produced plenty of standout wide receivers in recent years that senior Eric Ward could choose to model his game on. His choice is looking back at him in the mirror.

"I model myself after me," Ward said during Big 12 media days Monday. "You can't be somebody else. If you be like somebody else, you are taking away from yourself. You got to be who you are and use your talents.

"I have players I look up to. I look up to Michael Crabtree. I look up to Wes Welker, Danny Amendola. Those guys are Tech alumni."

But as first-year head coach and former Red Raiders quarterback Kliff Kingsbury noted, that trio of NFL stars could all be looking up at Ward in the school's record book.

"He has a chance to be the all-time leading receiver at Texas Tech, which is an incredible feat when you look at the players we have had coming through there at that position," Kingsbury said.

Ward needs 133 receptions, 1,212 receiving yards and 19 receiving touchdowns to claim the Texas Tech career marks in those categories, numbers that would be out of reach in any system other than the spread passing offense derived from Mike Leach's Air Raid.

That prolific approach, Kingsbury believes, is one of the main reasons that Welker, Amendola and Crabtree have transitioned so well to the NFL.

"From the beginning of practice on, they are running their routes and working their techniques and catching footballs," said Kingsbury, who himself was drafted in the sixth round by the New England Patriots in 2003. "The more you do something, the better you get."

Ward also cited the underdog mentality and intense work ethic Leach first fostered, something the program continues to emphasize.

"You got to go out there and earn everything," Ward said. "Nothing is given to you, and that's what helps guys transition so well."

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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