Led by Preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields (6-4, 240, So.) and returning all-conference tackle Chucky Hunter (6-1, 300, Jr.), TCU returns three of four starters on its front.
Fields, a preseason All-American, has been named to watch lists for the Chuck Bednarik Award, Ted Hendricks Award, Rotary Lombardi Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy.
Fields was the 2012 Associated Press Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and the consensus National Defensive Freshman of the Year. He led the Big 12 with 18 1/2 tackles for loss while placing third with 10 sacks.
Fields' sack total, which tied for fourth in a season by a Horned Frog, broke the TCU freshman record of seven set by eventual NFL All-Pro Aaron Schobel in 1997. Fields took part in a sack in nine of 13 games, while his 53 tackles topped the defensive line. The Fort Worth native added two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, interception and four pass breakups.
Hunter, from West Monroe, La., is on watch lists for the Rotary Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy. He totaled six tackles for loss, including 3 1/2 sacks, among his 36 stops.
Davion Pierson (6-2, 305, So.) is the third returning starter. He was third on TCU with 7 1/2 tackles for loss. Included in that total were 3 1/2 sacks. Pierson closed the campaign with a career-best nine tackles, including two for loss, a sack and forced fumble against Michigan State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
Behind Hunter on the depth chart entering fall camp was his former West Monroe High School teammate Terrell Lathan (6-5, 280, So.). Lathan played in six games as a true freshman and had a key tackle for loss against Kansas State.
Jon Lewis (6-2, 290, Jr.) and David Johnson (6-2, 300, Jr.) are also in the mix on the inside.
Lewis is a two-year letterman. He had two tackles for loss among his six stops last season. Johnson, who has started 11 games the last two years, recorded a sack in the win at West Virginia before seeing his campaign come to a close that same day with a season-ending injury. He was a 2011 Freshman All-American.
Veteran Jon Koontz (6-2, 265, Sr.), the lone senior on the defensive line's depth chart, is projected to start opposite Fields at left end. Koontz started four games last season and totaled 12 tackles. He recorded an interception in the win at SMU.
James McFarland (6-3, 248, So.) had a solid spring and came out No. 2 on the depth chart behind Koontz. Like Hunter and Lathan, McFarland is from West Monroe High School. He played in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2012.
Josh Carraway (6-4, 240, So.) is a promising young player who will push for playing time at end. Carraway battled injuries in seeing action as a true freshman last season. He played in four games and totaled four stops.
Matt Anderson (6-3, 250, Jr.) entered fall camp in a second-team position at right end behind Fields. A former high school running back, Anderson has missed the last two seasons due to injury. He was one of three true freshmen to play on TCU's 2010 Rose Bowl championship team.
BY THE NUMBERS:
1 - Current Horned Frogs (David Johnson) who were Bleacher Creatures as kids at TCU home football games
4 - National awards (Chuck Bednarik Award, Ted Hendricks Award, Rotary Lombardi Award and Bronko Nagurski Trophy) with Devonte Fields on their 2013 preseason watch list
5 - Number of schools (Kansas State, Tennessee Tech, Utah State, Navy, TCU) Horned Frogs' defensive line coach/defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas and head coach Gary Patterson have worked at together
22 1/2 - Combined sacks by the TCU defensive line last season with returning players accounting for 18 1/2