TCU’s issues with depth at linebacker are fairly well aired; the coach has basically said that he hopes on A.J. Hilliard can play early and often. There are two other positions on the team where Frog fans might see true freshmen play.
The first is defensive end. TCU is, oddly, a little short at defensive end. If Ross Forrest, Jon Koontz, and Matt Anderson suddenly blossom in 2012, the freshmen won’t see the field. But if not, look for the coaches to rotate in some very young players, and see who takes to it right off, and who doesn’t—much like the defensive and nose tackle positions in 2011.
Expectations are high for Devonte Fields, who could have gone anywhere in the country. None other than Big Game Bob [Stoops] had to be told off twice by Fields’ mom during his recruitment. Fields will be competing with Josh Carraway, whom FOW believes is now on scholarship, and Terrell Lathan, for snaps at end. Coach Patterson believes Lathan can play at 280 pounds and still run a 4.5. At the signing day reception, the coaches said they got a "big time steal" with Carraway’s commitment. His family is full of very tall people, and the coaches believe he’ll be a late bloomer with immense upside.
The second position where the upperclassmen don’t appear to be cutting the mustard is
tight end. Multiple times this spring Coach P indicated that he was yet unsatisfied with the performance of all the tight ends except one. He never said who that one was, but our best guess is that it's one of the older players, which are Corey Fuller and Stephen Bryant. Redshirt freshman Dominic Merka hasn't displayed the kind of physicality that Patterson wants to see.
HawkeyedFrog alluded to this in Podcast IV, saying he thought Griffin Gilbert could a key contributor in 2012. Gilbert’s recruiting really took off after his performances in summer camps turned heads. Coach Patterson talked about how the way the New England Patriots use tight ends in showing up elsewhere, and that TCU will try the same thing with Gilbert. Also enrolling this summer is Gerren Ballard, whom Missouri pursued hard. Ballard is big and fast; if he can play as physically as the coaches want (and can’t yet get from the older players) look for him on the field in games, especially on special teams. "Our younger players still got to come a long way, I think all four of them need to keep working on being physical and learning to be a football player," Patterson said of his tight ends. "Our tight ends play on all of our special teams and they’re very important in our run game."