TCU finalized a top-25 recruiting class on National Signing Day, a group headlined by five 4-star signees. Now the Horned Frogs will try to break their recent streak of poor results with blue-chip prospects.
Highly rated recruits are generally more likely to be good college players, and landing them is considered a prerequisite for competing for a national championship. But a significant number of the blue-chip players TCU has landed in recent years have failed to yield results.
Twelve of the 19 4-star players the Frogs signed from 2011-2016 either left the program or were forced to retire for medical reasons. Out of the rest of that group, few lived up to their blue-chip ranking. TCU hopes its last two classes will put an end to that trend.
Here are all of TCU’s 4-star signees in the 247Sports Composite rankings from 2011-2016:
- WR Brandon Carter: Left program because of academic troubles
- WR LaDarius Brown: Dismissed for violating team rules
- WR Cam White: Medically disqualified by TCU after suffering multiple concussions
- DE Devonte Fields: Dismissed after allegedly assaulting ex-girlfriend
- LT Halapoulivaati Vaitai
- TE Griffin Gilbert: Medically retired from football due to back injuries
- RB Kyle Hicks
- DT Tevin Lawson: Transferred to Nicholls State after 2015 season
- RB Shaun Nixon: No longer listed on official team roster; suffered multiple season-ending knee injuries at TCU
- CB DeShawn Raymond: Transferred out of program after 2016 season
- RB Sewo Olonilua
- DE Isaiah Chambers: Transferred to Houston before 2017 season to be close to sick relative
- DE Brandon Bowen
- WR Taj Williams
- LT Austin Myers
- DT Ross Blacklock
- LB Tyree Horton: Never played for TCU and transferred to Illinois State after 2016
- WR Isaiah Graham: Transferred to Louisiana Tech after 2017 season
- WR Ryan Parker: Never played for TCU
Of that group of players, the success stories are few. Vaitai twice earned all-Big 12 honors and just won a Super Bowl. Hicks was an all-Big 12 honorable mention in 2016. Blacklock was a freshman All-American last year. Other than that, there have been flashes of potential but little prolonged excellence.
Not every blue-chip recruit is going to be a star. There have been plenty of 2- and 3-star recruits at TCU who have disappointed too. And in injury situations like Griffin’s or White’s, there’s nothing the school can do. However, highly ranked players are supposed to be more of a sure thing. For TCU, that hasn’t been the case.
Perhaps it’s a result Gary Patterson’s coaching style. The TCU coach has said that all the hype around some highly rated recruits can make them tougher to coach.
“A highly ranked recruit, it’s not good for him. … The quicker you can ‘de-recruit’ a recruit the better chance he has to be successful,” Patterson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Mac Engel in 2015. “Bottom line is, for a kid to move forward and mature, he has to be able to understand who he is.”
Maybe TCU is just getting fewer of the “can’t-miss” prospects. While Alabama gets the elite, guaranteed future first-round picks, maybe many of TCU’s 4-star recruits have been rated as such based solely off potential. Then when they get to college, they don’t blossom like the sure-fire blue-chip players. Maybe it’s just bad luck.
Regardless of the reason, the Frogs need their two most recent star-studded classes to buck the trend.
- WR Jalen Reagor
- WR Omar Manning
- C/G Wes Harris
- QB Shawn Robinson
- QB Justin Rogers
- WR Tevailance Hunt
- S Atanza Vongor
- RB Fabian Franklin
- LT Anthony McKinney
The 2017 group is off to a solid start. Reagor has already turned into a star for the 2017 class. He earned freshman All-American honors and was named Big 12 Co-Offensive Freshman of the Year. Robinson impressed in limited action last season, winning on the road in his only start, and appears to be in line to start in 2018.
TCU pulled in one of the best quarterback prospects in the nation in Justin Rogers and one of the best receivers in Texas with Tevailance Hunt in 2018. Junior college tackle Anthony McKinney should be able to compete for a starting job right away. There is a lot of potential in both of these classes. TCU just needs those players to reach it.
Patterson has built his reputation on developing lower rated players into stars at the college level. He tells the media repeatedly that star ratings and class rankings don’t matter. However, that hasn’t stopped him from pursuing more of the top talents in the country over the last few years. He knows that having more talent can only help when trying to compete at the highest level.
TCU has been able to attract more of that talent in recent years. The next step is developing it as well as the 2-star talent that got the Frogs where they are now.
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