Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 4/7/12
LANCASTER, Texas A group 30 sleepy-eyed Texas Tech football players boarded a bus in Lubbock at 6 a.m. Saturday and headed east. When they stepped off the bus six hours later in Lancaster, Texas, they were confronted with devastation. The players and two 18-wheelers full of supplies traveled to the suburb south of Dallas to help with the relief effort after tornadoes damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes in the area Tuesday. "There's just wrecked homes everywhere," safety Cody Davis said. "One guy was in his car, just parked out in front of what used to be his home. His whole home was destroyed. "It's kind of crazy, really, how their lives were torn apart like that." The players came up with the idea to help over their long Easter weekend break from off-season workouts. In addition to the 30 who rode the bus, another dozen or so teammates who live in the Dallas area met with them to unload supplies and help with the cleanup of tornado-ravaged neighborhoods. A total of 16 confirmed tornadoes touched down over three counties in Dallas-Fort Worth on Tuesday, leaving many homeless. Lancaster was one of a handful of communities hit hard by the storms that, miraculously, resulted in no deaths. "We all heard about it," quarterback Seth Doege said. "There was some buzz going around the locker room. We kind of came together and got with receivers coach Sonny Cumbie, and Coach Cumbie asked for some volunteers. There were a lot of guys that wanted to come out here and help." None of the players are from Lancaster, but many are from the Dallas-Fort Worth area and had some anxious moments during the storms. Wide receiver Darrin Moore was concerned about his parents back home in Irving. "They said a tornado hit a couple of blocks from their house," Moore said. "I was pretty worried about them." Cumbie said it "says a lot about the character of our guys" to interrupt a holiday weekend to spend 10 or 12 hours on a bus, and the rest of the day unloading trucks and removing debris from homes. "It wasn't a deal where we bribed them or anything," said Cumbie, a former Texas Tech quarterback. "I just came to them and said, 'Hey, you guys want to jump on board? Come on.' And they did." The city of Lubbock jumped on board, too. With just one day to gather supplies, residents filled up the football team's equipment truck, and then the marching band's equally large semi. "We put a cry out to all the Lubbock people and man, there was a line starting yesterday morning at seven in the morning until seven at night," Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville said. "I tell you, we could have loaded three or four trucks." Tuberville said he noticed a few "blue roofs" damaged roofs covered with ubiquitous blue tarps on the way into Lancaster, the first sign of the storms' destruction. "This is an educational experience, too," Tuberville said. "I want these guys to understand what happens. Some of them don't have a clue." Tuberville understands better than most. He was an assistant at the University of Miami in 1992 when he learned first-hand about the destructive force of nature. "We were in two-a-days and Hurricane Andrew came through," Tuberville said. "My wife and I laid on the floor of our house for three or four hours waiting for the storm to pass. "I was the only coach that didn't lose their house completely, and I lost part of my roof. It was about the scariest thing I've ever been through." When the players arrived in Lancaster, they first person to meet them was the city's parks and recreation director, Sean Johnson, who played defensive line for the Red Raiders from 1992-96. "Raider Power, this is the way we do it," Johnson said. "That's one of the things that was driven home to us, service to the community. We're just thrilled to death that they took the time to drive to Lancaster." Lancaster mayor Marcus Knight was among the group of officials to greet the players, whose bus and trailers were given a police escort into town. "I just continue to be overjoyed with the outpouring of support," Knight said of the Texas Tech contingent. "A lot of people have a lot of needs and this was a total surprise. A total surprise." After unloading the first truck, the players and staff took a brief break while the second truck was put into position. Mayor Knight took the moment to speak to the group. "I just can't say enough to you all for caring enough about our community to make the trip to give to those people in need," Knight said. "I want you all to know that this really matters and I can't thank you enough." Then it was back to work unloading more cases of bottled water, grocery sacks full of toiletries and bags of dog food. Then it was off to help clean up damaged neighborhoods. "That's just West Texas for you," said Doege, who is from Wolfforth, just outside of Lubbock. "When somebody needs help, West Texas people will be the first to lend a hand." The team will arrive in Lubbock late Saturday night with two empty 18-wheelers - but a truckload of memories. "We'll definitely look at things from a different perspective," Davis said. Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire
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