Just about every position is accounted for, with some rules I have built in to try and stream line this process.
- No players who have been perpetually injured/suspended were included.
- No players not currently on the TCU Roster are included, except in cases where it has been reported by a reputable source that said player is joining/rejoining the team (IE, ESPN on Casey Pachall returning).
So, with that in mind, here is our way-too-early TCU Two-Deep:
Casey Pachall (SR., 6'5" 225 lbs.)
Trevone Boykin (SO., 6'2" 215 lbs.)
- Here is the thing, this one position will be talked about 10,000 more times between now and Aug. 31, 2013, and in all reality one could make the case that the offensive line development is more important to TCU's long term success. But, let's try and boil down the QB debate to just one question... Can TCU win a Big 12 Championship with X quarterback as the primary starter?
If the answer is Trevone Boykin, my answer is no, at least for 2013. With Pachall, my answer is maybe, because the guy has a long way to go before we know exactly who we are going to get this fall.
But, assuming that he wins this team back, he is the best shot at glory next year without question, and I have to believe the job will be his when the team runs out onto the field in Cowboys Stadium. Of course, because GP likes to be so very GP, we may not know who the QB is UNTIL he runs out on the field!
Waymon James (SR., 5'8" 205 lbs.)
Aaron Green (SO., 5'11" 190 lbs.) or BJ Catalon (SO., 5'9" 185 lbs.)
Laderice Sanders (SO., 6'1" 230 lbs.)
Jordan Moore (SO., 6'3" 210 lbs.)
- If Waymon James is back and 100%, he needs to get the bulk of the carries this fall. TCU owes him that shot, and I think he is likely still the best back we have. The guy could be a top five round draft pick come 2014, he just needs to get more eyes on him and stay healthy in a primary role for an entire season.
Behind him we have a ton of speed and potential in the form of Green and Catalon. Green was a five star HS prospect, highly regarded in every circle. He had to sit this year after transferring in from Nebraska, but GP has referred to him as a game changer in every sense of the word. Catalon showed us his potential this year, dynamic speed with up the middle instincts, and TCU will need three backs throughout the year anyways so I expect him to get plenty of touches.
The FB position was used less in 2012 than in any of the previous four years, a trend that might continue as TCU continues to favor the shotgun set for both run and pass options. Regardless, Sanders was solid there for TCU in 2012 and Jordan Moore has apparently been moved to offense permanently following the Michigan State debacle, both could see carries throughout 2013.
Brandon Carter (JR., 5'11" 161 lbs.)
David Porter (JR., 6'0" 195 lbs.)
LaDarius Brown (SO., 6'4" 220 lbs.)
Josh Doctson (SO., 6'4" 185 lbs.)
Cam White (JR., 6'3" 200 lbs.)
Ja'Juan Story (SO., 6'4" 208 lbs.)
- With the WR position in 2013, we will likely see every one of these guys in every game, the starter title is just for honor. But, the top four in the group will likely be Boyce, Carter, Brown and White, with Story and Doctson just behind.
Of the backups, Story is another top level prospect who transferred into the program this fall (Florida) and is described as a project player with dynamic, game changing talent (on a Megatron type scale). Doctson is a possession receiver who reminds me of a more athletic Curtis Clay, I expect him to get a lot of looks this fall.
No matter what, this group is clearly one of the strongest units on the 2013 team, and with only one senior it looks to be the deepest by far.
At TE, Gilbert was used a ton in formations throughout the year but wasn't frequently targeted. Who can blame any of our QB's though, with all the talent available at WR. Gilbert and Murphy will both get playing time this fall, with Murphy trending more towards playing on the strong side of run option plays and Griffin as a split-out or slot receiver on passing plays.
Eric Tausch (SR., 6'3" 300 lbs.)
Joey Hunt (SO., 6'3" 285 lbs.)
John Wooldridge (SR., 6'5" 310 lbs.)
Joey Hunt (SO., 6'3" 285 lbs.)
Tayo Fabuluje (JR., 6'7" 315 lbs.)
Halapoulivaati Vaitai (SO., 6'6" 305 lbs.)
- This is easily the toughest group to guess for 2013: I would be willing to bet each of these spots will be wrong come this fall. Injuries, depth concerns, grades, all tend to play a factor when it comes to the TCU offensive line and I am sure that will continue this year.
Collins moved over to LT towards the end of 2013 with Fabuluje sliding to RT, I would guess that will continue next year. Collins must improve his lateral movement if he wants to stick at LT. Vaitai is improving but still is not good enough to displace one of the men ahead of him, but is good enough to play when needed.
I would guess Tausch will move to C in 2013, he has the right skill set, correct physical attributes and experience you would want as the O-Line anchor. Joey Hunt could also be at C and will get many looks there this spring, but I would guess he will be more of a "Jack-of-all-Trades" instead.
I put Wooldridge at RG due to experience, the guy has played a good amount every year in the program, including every game but one in 2012, he will get a shot at either guard spot. The other guard is tough, but Brady Foltz appears to be coming along nicely. If he fills out and works as hard as his brother (starting RG in 2012), he could win this job, but it is truly up in the air right now.
Chucky Hunter (JR., 6'1" 305 lbs.)
Terrell Lathan (SO., 6'5" 260 lbs.)
Davion Pierson (SO., 6'2" 305 lbs.)
Jon Lewis (JR., 6'2" 290 lbs.)
- This unit is the best on the team, in my humble opinion. Maponga and Fields are the best DE duo in college, when healthy. Hunter and Pierson made huge strides in 2012, thanks in part to being pushed by Lathan and Lewis behind them. Koontz is a ferocious player who will backup both end spots, and McFarland is a dynamic athlete who should soften the blow of losing Maponga after 2013.
I think it is safe to say that if TCU has this line all year long in 2013, they are the easiest pick to lead the league in sacks, truly an SEC style defensive front.
AJ Hilliard (SO., 6'2" 215 lbs.)
Paul Dawson (JR., 6'2" 230 lbs.)
- Hard to know what we should reasonable expect from this group next year. Let's start with Gildon, a star in the making through 2011 who flunked out of school and ended up at ITAWAMBA College. He has repaired the academics and re-enrolled at TCU this spring, I would expect him to immediately replace Hasley at the MLB position, as could Mallet who is equally as fast as Gildon.
One word on Hasley: You just have to love that guy, who stepped up big for TCU in 2012. But, at a certain point you have to go with talent over "story" on the field, and I can't see him starting over Mallet or Gildon next fall.
I put AJ Hilliard at the SLB spot.
a position he supposedly had won before injuring his knee prior to the start of 2012. He is an extremely good athlete. Dawson was strong in 2012, I love seeing him play. He isn't exceptionally quick but he flocks to the ball as good as anybody, he will play a lot in 2013, especially against the run.
- The best safety group in college football, and the least appreciated position group amongst TCU fans. Elisha Olabode has become a star, Chris Hackett was just as dynamic a talent as Devonte Fields in 2012 and Sam Carter quietly goes about his job, one of the most underrated athletes on this team.
As long as they are healthy, the secondary is a major strength of this team.
Jason Verrett (SR., 5'10" 180 lbs.)
Keivon Gamble (SR., 5'10" 180 lbs.) or Deante Gray (SO., 5'10" 180 lbs.)
David Jenkins (SO., 6'1" 190 lbs.)
Travotsky Garrett (SO., 6'1" 195 lbs.) or Kevin White (JR., 5'10" 175 lbs.)
- I wanted to separate this group out to talk about a couple things. First, we don't yet know if Jason Verrett is going to be back this fall, although it is a better than 50/50 shot at this point. If he is, TCU has their lock down corner. If not, Keivon(Chris) Gamble steps up and should be slightly above average there.
I personally think David Jenkins will emerge as the second corner for TCU, primarily because of his size and ability to cover and tackle. Although, the word on the street is that Travotsky Garrett is turning heads in practice everyday, he might just jump Jenkins (who was the higher rated recruit, going to LSU before transferring back to TCU).
I don't have much faith in Deante Gray beating out Gamble, Garrett or White next year, he could definitely be a talent in coming year but I think he is still raw at the position. TCU will be much deeper at CB next year, which might prove to be a red-shirt year for the speedy Gray.
I also wanted to say a quick word about Kevin White. While he can be incredibly frustrating at times, the guy really improved over the back third of the season. While he may get passed over for more athletic and instinctive options, I would bet White gets a lot of playing time in 2013... Why? Because Gary clearly trusts him and believes in his potential, and Gary seems to put more stock in what you do on gameday rather than practice, giving White an edge over Garrett or Jenkins at this point.
Ethan Perry (SO., 6'4" 230 lbs.)
Ryan DeNucci (JR., 5'10" 190 lbs.)
- This duo is going to set every kicking record at TCU, ever. I expect both to be award list finalists in 2013, provided Oberkrom can keep his head strait and Perry can focus a bit more. Regardless, let's take a moment to think about how spoiled we have been at TCU these last few years when it comes to kickers or punters... O wait, Ross Evans, Utah... NM.
Josh Boyce (SR., 6'0" 205 lbs.)
Aaron Green (SO., 5'11" 190 lbs.)
Brandon Carter (JR., 5'11" 161 lbs.)
Aaron Green (SO., 5'11" 190 lbs.)
- Boyce was the second kick returner for TCU most of the year and I think he is pretty good at the job. Brandon Carter was more of a punt return specialist in 2011 than 2012, but with all the issues we had there last year I can't imagine the coaching staff putting anybody back there who can't do the simple parts of the job well (like catch the punt). As I said before, I expect Gray to redshirt and thus did not include him here.
I put Green as the secondary at both, but I have no idea about that, a total guess on my part... Although, I would love to see his speed and agility on punt returns, that could be magical.
So, pretty dynamic group right? Well, they should be good enough for a preseason top 25 ranking and lots of Big 12 Champion predictions, but there are still a ton of big questions for this team that must be answered if they are to realize any amount of their potential in 2013...
1. Will Casey Pachall be back and as good as ever?
2. What will the offensive line look like, and will it be better than in 2012?
3. Is Waymon James back, healthy, and utilized?
4. Who are the linebackers, and is that position a strength again for TCU in 2013?
5. Can we find a strong punt and kick returner who doesn't drop the ball?
6. Does the offensive game plan change or adapt at all?
By the end of spring training, I would guess about half of these questions will have been answered and more will have been added to the list.... But regardless, the outline of this team is clear and talented, and I am excited to see what we can do with all our best chips on the table.