It's a lot to ask of a true freshman to step on campus and make an impact for a team that is expected to open the season with a top five ranking; it's even more to put them in the jersey number of an All-American from the year before. That's just the role that Tipa Galeai will look to fill this fall, as the defensive end out of Trinity in Euless prepares to make his mark for TCU.
Galeai, who was a highly recruited - garnering 15 offers - chose the Frogs just before Christmas last year, despite a late push from several Power 5 teams. He credits the relationship he built with other 2015 signees, especially wide receiver Jaelan Austin, who contacted Tipa in the fall and encouraged him to come check out TCU.
"Once I got offered midseason from TCU, Jaelan was the first one to tell me to join the fam and I would make a good decision to commit to TCU," Galeai said. "That part really stuck to me, especially coming from a kid I don’t even know. I said I’d check it out and I really loved it. Jaelan played a big part in it."
While Tipa will look to be the next great #47 on defense, there is a redshirt freshman on the other side of the ball hoping to make an impact in a crowded position battle. Jake Whittenburg, a 6'0" wide receiver out of Perrytown, TX, might not have the name recognition of some of the other offensive players for the Frogs, but is a good athlete in his own right. With a 4.43 40 yard dash and a 35" vertical, Jake played on both sides of the ball as a high schooler, taking snaps at free safety and receiver.
One of the biggest question marks of the season, kicking off 47 days from now, is who will replace the impact TCU's former #47 in the middle. While it's too early to anoint Galeai, we may speak of him just as fondly as we did Paul Dawson in due time. And regardless of what we do, or don't see on the field from the kid, you have to love his attitude and confidence:
"When I saw all the commits, I actually looked at all their highlight films and I would not be surprised if we did not win a national championship," he said. "I know that this class is a very special class. We’re all dedicated, and we’ll work hard and do anything we can to get a ring."