With the college football's 2011 National Signing Day in the books and the ink barely dry on TCU's 25 letters of intent it's time to take a look at the new Horned Frogs. TCU's class is currently ranked 26th overall which is the highest Rivals rating in program history. As per usual with TCU recruiting classes this class is full of fast, physical, versatile, and high character individuals. Please follow along as I attempt to peel back the layers of the onion that is the 2011 TCU Horned Frog recruiting class.
The Headliners: The Frogs were able to sign 5 different players that were dubbed as four-star players by one or more of the 3 major recruiting services of Rivals(R),Scout(S), and ESPN(E):
-WR LaDarius Brown (R,S,E)
-WR Brandon Carter (S,E)
-WR Cameron White (S)
-LB Deryck Gildon (E)
-DT Chuck Hunter (R)
Battling The Big 12: The state of Texas has plenty of FBS caliber football players to choose from but with so many schools looking to wet their beak in the lonestar state the competition can be fierce. The numbers below represent how TCU fared in signing players that shared an offer from both TCU and it's biggest recruiting competitors from the Big 12:
Texas A&M-3 TCU-3
Texas Tech-3 TCU-6
Oklahoma St.-4 TCU-5
Another measure of recruiting in the state of Texas is the amount of players that each school signed from the vaunted Rivals Texas Top 100:
Based on these numbers it is apparent that TCU recruiting has come a long way. In the past TCU could only dream of going toe to toe with programs like Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Oklahoma St., and Texas Tech when battling for kids. The results speak for themselves and it goes to show that the landscape of college football in the state of Texas is changing, whether the purists want to admit it or not. I think the outliers on this list are interesting as well, even in an extreme down year for the Longhorns they still claimed the top spot on the recruiting foodchain without breaking a sweat. Conversely the Baylor Bears made their first bowl game since the inception of the Big 12 and was only able to land 1 out of ten kids against TCU, and he was from Waco.
Location, Location, Location: Once again TCU's location in the heart fertile recruiting grounds of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex cannot be undersold as an advantage in recruiting and it once again paid dividends with the Frogs reeling in 9 players from the ever expansive DFW area and it's surrounding areas. The rest of the in-state class was filled in with 4 from both Houston and East Texas, and a lone straggler from Austin and West Texas. TCU's new ability to pitch DFW area kids the opportunity to play football in a BCS conference yet remain close to home seemed to really help down the stretch so it will be interesting to see the effect that it has on the 2012 class. Of TCU's 25 signees 7 hail from outside the state of Texas with 3 from Oklahoma and one each from Louisiana, Florida, Kansas, and California.
Position Groupings at a Glance: The 2011 class is overflowing with talent at receiver and defensive tackle, which is convenient because those were the two biggest areas of need due to the graduation of mainstay playmakers Jimmy Young, Jeremy Kerley, Bart Johnson, and Curtis Clay at wide out along with Cory Grant and Kelly Griffin at defensive tackle. As is typical for a Gary Patterson class there is an abundance of under the radar defensive backs who all seem to be perfect fits for the 4-2-5. The Frogs only signed one defensive end but it wasn't for a lack of trying, the staff just swung on missed on some big name guys, it happens. At running back the staff decided late in the game to take a risk and not take a back in 2011 with the plan of going all-in in 2012 to land the biggest fish in the Texas sea. That big fish in question is running back Johnathan Gray of nearby Aledo, who is widely regarded to be the #1 2012 Texas prospect and he has interest in the Frogs, just take a look at the sweet threads he wore to Billy Bob's recently.
Thou Shalt Steal From Thy Rivals: TCU fans are all too familar with what it feels like to have a star recruit switch his commitment elsewhere at the last minute. Most notably Kendall Hunter of Oklahoma State, and LaMichael James and Josh Huff of Oregon were Frog commits that jumped off the S.S. Patterson at the last minute in past years. As a welcome change of pace this year the Frogs stole much more than they lost, and the majority of the switches were from bitter rivals, which makes it oh so sweet-- WR Brandon Carter (OU), DT Jon Lewis (Texas Tech), OT Carter Wall (SMU), DB Jamie Byrd (Boise State), and OT/DT Tayo Fabuluje (BYU transfer). Conversely the Frogs only had one commitment switch allegiances, Shayvion Hatten of Daingerfield, TX who decided to cast his fate with Mike Sherman and the Aggies.
The 2011 TCU Horned Frogs:
(Position & Name, Hometown, Height & Weight, 40 Yard Dash, Stars(*), Notable Offers)
WR LaDarius Brown, Waxahachie, TX, 6'2'' 190lbs, 4.4, ****, Bama-Auburn-OU-Tech-A&M-Nebraska-Notre Dame
LaDarius Brown is the marquee signee of this years class and the highest rated recruit in the Gary Patterson era, ranked 53rd in the country and 7th in Texas by Rivals. Brown is a physical, big-bodied, playmaker with excellent ball skills that should be able to compete for a starting job as soon as he arrives on campus. He has drawn comparisons to LSU's Reuben Randle, which makes me very excited because I remember watching Randle basically single handedly rip out Bama's heart this season. HIGHLIGHTS
WR Cameron White, DeSoto, TX, 6'2" 185lbs, 4.4, ****, Tech-A&M-Ok St.-Mizzou-Iowa-Arizona
White was the first commitment in the 2011 class and then after he earned MVP WR honors at a Nike camp the offers started pouring in so he opened his recruitment back up but he looked around and saw that the grass was not greener. White is a smooth route runner with soft hands who reminds me of a rich man's version of TCU's Jimmy Young. HIGHLIGHTS
WR Brandon Carter, Euless, TX, 5'11" 161lbs, ****, Oklahoma-Minnesota-Wake Forest
Brandon Carter is the most exciting player in this class for me because I know what Jeremy Kerley meant to the Frogs the past 4 years and by all accounts Carter is Jeremy Kerley version 2.0. Tell me that this play doesn't scream "Jeremy Kerley" to you? Carter is an electric playmaker who played all over the field(QB/WR/RB/KR/PR) for local powerhouse Euless Trinity High School. Trinity is known for cranking out D-1 football talent so TCU potentially opening up a recruiting pipeline there could be huge in the long-term for the Frogs. Carter committed to Oklahoma in the June but switched to TCU late in January. Reasons for the switch are rumored to be that TCU would give Carter a shot at receiver while OU wanted him at corner and that TCU is closer to home but I think the real reason is that Carter got a good look at the difference between cheerleaders with the two schools.
WR David "Trey" Porter III, DeSoto, TX, 6'0" 185lbs, 4.5, ***, Virginia-Wake Forest-Iowa State-Cinci
Porter is teammates with Cameron White and reminds me of Bart Johnson, crisp route runner with nice hands that will be a nice fit for the slot. HIGHLIGHTS
WR David Bush, Tyler, TX, 5'10" 165lbs, 4.5, ***, SMU-Tulsa
Bush is a waterbug type of athlete who played quarterback and receiver in high school. I think Bush will redshirt in 2011 and then find a natural home in the slot and should a legit threat on bubble screens and wr sweeps.
QB Trevone "Trey" Boykin, Mesquite, TX, 6'1" 205, 4.5, ***, UTEP
Boykin might be the sleeper star of this class as he went unnoticed by most schools because he lacks ideal height but he is a stat stuffer as a dual threat. In his senior season Boykin passed for 2,930 yds, rushed for 1,799 yds, and accounted for 58 TD's (30 rush, 28 pass, 11 int). He is an accurate passer (60.7 percent completion) and looks most comfortable when running the zone-read. He reminds me of a right-handed Pat White and should be TCU's 3rd string QB in 2011. If it doesn't work out at QB Boykin has the athleticism to move to receiver or defensive back if needed. Boykin made the final Rivals Texas Top 100 list. HIGHLIGHTS
QB Chazten Gonzales, Del City OK, 6'2" 185 lbs, 4.5, ***
Being from Oklahoma Gonzales has flown under the radar and I don't know much about him but he seems to posses a similar skill set to Boykin but with a bigger arm. Much like Boykin Gonzales could move to another position if it doesn't work out at QB.
OL Bobby Thompson, Midland TX, 6'7" 285 lbs, 5.1, ***, A&M-Tech-Baylor-CSU
Bobby Thompson is oozing with potential, he is very young and with a few years in TCU's strength and conditioning program he could be a monster with his frame. Thompson is a dominating run blocker and doesn't seem content unless he plants his defender on his back but his pass protection is suspect at this point. Thompson projects to right tackle but depending on how his pass pro develops he could move inside. HIGHLIGHTS
OL Brady Foltz, Rose Hill KS, 6'4'' 290 lbs, 5.2, ***, AFA-CSU
Foltz's older brother Blaize currently plays guard for the Frogs and has really impressed so signing Brady was really a no brainer. Brady's father is also a football/strength coach so he knows what it takes to be successful and has an outstanding work ethic on the field and in the weight room.
OL Jamelle Naff, Del City OK, 6'4" 311 lbs, ***, CU-Arizona-Mizzou-KU-Kansas State
Naff is teammates with Chazten Gonzales and is a stout blocker. He looks like a guard to me but he will start off at tackle. Rivals ranked Naff as the #4 prospect in Oklahoma.
OL Carter Wall, Richmond TX, 6'5" 263 lbs, 5.2, ***, ASU-Baylor-Mizzou-KU-Miss St.-SMU-Virginia-Utah
Wall was a late switch from SMU, suck it Ponies!
DT Chuck Hunter, Monroe LA, 6'1" 294 lbs, ****, Mizzou-Ok St.-Illinois-Baylor-Ole Miss-Miss St.
In the past TCU always seemed to struggle recruiting talented big men for the middle of the 4-2-5 but it looks like those days are over. Hunter is a game changer that should see the field immediately for the Frogs. Hunter was rated as the #14 player in the state of Louisiana and was named Louisiana's Outstanding Player of the Year. HIGHLIGHTS
DT Jon Lewis, Spring TX, 6'2" 265 lbs, ***, Alabama-Oregon-Cal-Michigan-Tech-Ok St.-Baylor-Arizona
Lewis was a late switch from Texas Tech and has an excellent motor and burst. Lewis has an impressive offer sheet and if he is good enough for Nick Saban that is all I need to know. Lewis is a little undersized for a DT so expect him to redshirt to bulk up. HIGHLIGHTS
DT Davion Pierson, Oklahoma City OK, 6'2 298 lbs, ***, Kansas State-Tulsa
As of right now Pierson is the only commit that hasn't signed yet due to the weather but he is expected to. Pierson has good feet and is a bit of a project as he is carrying some bad weight so I would doubt you will hear Pierson's name being called on Saturdays for at least 2-3 years. Ranked as the 22nd best player in Oklahoma by Rivals.
DE/LB Austin Terry, Lago Vista TX, 6'2" 220 lbs, 4.6, ***, Rice
Terry is already enrolled at TCU and will participate in spring practice in March. Terry looks like a rush end to me but also has the ability to play linebacker. Terry was named the Defensive MVP of his district and was 2A second-team All-State. HIGHLIGHTS
LB Deryck Gildon, Arlington TX, 6'2" 205 lbs, 4.5, ****, Iowa-Kentucky-Tech-CU-Baylor-KU-SMU-Minnesota
Gildon is another player that is already enrolled at TCU. Gildon is rated as the 66th best player in Texas by Rivals and played WR/TE on offense for Arlington Martin.
LB Laderice Sanders, Arlington TX, 6'1" 220 lbs, 4.6, ***, Minnesota
At 220 lbs Laderice is already a load inside and he loves to hit. He has surprising quickness and if he was an inch or so taller he would make one hell of a defensive end but he wants to play linebacker so that is where he'll start. Sanders was named to the Rivals Texas Top 100 as was named 1st team All-District.
CB Jason Verrett, Santa Rosa CA, 5'10" 180 lbs, 4.4, ***, Boise State-UTEP-San Jose State
Verrett is a JC transfer, has 3 years of eligibilty left, and is already on campus. Verrett will play boundary corner in Patterson's 4-2-5 and gives the Frogs much needed depth at the CB position. Verrett was rated by Rivals as the 6th best JC defensive back.
CB/FS Kolby Griffin, Houston TX, 5'11'' 176 lbs, 4.4, ***, Arkansas-Baylor-Texas Tech
Kolby Griffin is an impressive young man and he looks to be the leader of this bunch. He is a physical and heady player who reminds me of Tejay Johnson on and off the field. Griffin was a named to the Rivals Texas Top 100 and was a very early TCU commit who served as a defacto recruiter in his own right. HIGHLIGHTS
CB Travoskey Garrett, Lufkin TX, 6'1" 186 lbs, 4.4, ***
Garrett is a perfect example of a Patterson defensive gem-- he is rangy, fast, physical, and completely under the radar. Garrett was named to the 5A division 14 first-team defense.
S Quincy Aldridge, Whitehouse TX, 6'2'' 195 lbs, 4.6, ***, Notre Dame-Illinois
To say Quincy comes from good stock would be a gross understatement-- father Jerry Aldridge played for the San Francisco 49ers from 1980-82, older brother Cory Aldridge currently plays basebal for the Los Angeles Angels, and cousin Kevin Aldridge played football for the St. Louis Rams & Tennesse Titams from 2003-07. Quincy Aldride was first-team All-District as a junior and a senior despite being hampered by knee injuries his senior season. Aldridge finished his career at Whitehouse HS with 20 interceptions.
S James Bailey, Everman TX, 6'1'' 200 lbs, 4.5, ***, Ok St.-Arizona-Baylor-Minnesota
Bailey was a one man wrecking crew at Everman HS playing receiver, running back, safety, and even returning kicks. He earned 4A District 7 MVP honors for his efforts. HIGHLIGHTS
S Chris Hackett, Tyler TX, 6'1'' 185 lbs, 4.6, ***, Utah
Teammates of David Bush at John Tyler HS. Hackett is a ball-hawking turnover machine who had an impressive senior season recording an eye-popping 12 interceptions and 4 forced fumbles. Hackett was named as a first-team All-American by Rivals and a second-team Parade All-American.
S Jamie Byrd, Dade City FL, 6'0" 180 lbs, ***, Boise State-Purdue-Iowa State
Byrd was a late Boise-switch and though he is from the speed state he is a player that will lay the wood and will play strong safety in the 4-2-5. Byrd was the Sunshine Conference Defensive Player of the Year and two-year recipient of his high school's Leadership Award. HIGHLIGHTS
ATH Dominic Merka, Crosby TX, 6'4" 220 lbs, ***, Utah-Baylor
Merka was a dual-threat quarterback in high school and was named first-team All-District at quarterback in 2010. Merka is a physical player and could play tight end or defensive end for the Frogs. HIGHLIGHTS