Jason Howell, Mid-South Recruiting Analyst for Rivals.com, was kind enough to chat with me yesterday to talk about TCU's 2016 recruiting class. A big thanks to Jason for taking time out of his day, which had to be incredibly busy. Here's our conversation:
Jamie Plunkett: What are your initial thoughts on this recruiting class for TCU?
Jason Howell: I think they added depth. I think they added some JUCO guys that can jump right in and provide experience. They got some highly touted high school guys, of course they've always done a good job of finding guys that fit what they do, and they've gotten a lot of guys that they can really develop over the next few years.
It's a strong class, I think we've got it rated right now No. 20 in the country, and No. 4 in the Big 12 behind Texas, Baylor, and Oklahoma, so that's right up there with the top of the Big 12.
JP: Talking about guys at the high school level first, guys like Sewo Olonilua, Brennen Wooten, Isaiah Graham, and Artyavious Lynn have already enrolled and are working out on campus. They're obviously a little bit ahead of the game, but as far as the other kids who aren't going to get here until August, which of those kids do you see producing early as a true freshman?
JH: I think Isaiah Chambers is a guy that has a chance. Ross Blacklock. Both of those guys have a chance to come in and be productive even though defensive lineman, it's a tough step up. But those are two physical guys who have the size and the strength and the football IQ to be able to understand what coach Patterson is going to want.
I think Innis Gaines is another one to watch, the safety out of Beaumont. I really like him and what he brings to the table.
JP: One of the more underrated/unknown recruits in this class is Vernon Scott. Do you think Scott could be a big contributor, and what makes you think that?
JH: Yeah. you know we've got him rated as a 2-star, he's 6'2" he's got some really good size for a defensive back, and we've seen Gary Patterson take an athlete with good size and use him well. Ty Summers is one that comes to mind as a guy that came in lightly regarded and just jumped right in. Turpin out of Neville in Monroe is another one. Size was his big known but everyone knew how elusive he could be, and he definitely didn't shy away.
I think Scott is a guy that TCU liked and jumped on early, and they felt like they had a good spot for him in what they do. I think there's definitely a chance that he comes in, and maybe not from day one but has a chance to be a guy that people talk about and point to when they talk about the rankings and how they're not exactly right all the time.
JP: Haha, you guys probably catch quite a bit of hell for stuff like that.
JH: (Laughs) Yeah, you know you're going to miss some, just like the colleges, just like the scouts in the NFL, just like anybody else. You're going to miss on some guys. It happens to the best of us.
JP: TCU didn't end quite as well as they had hoped for, with several guys going other places (D'Andre Christmas Giles, Kyle Porter, Tyrie Cleveland, etc.), as well as Sci Martin delaying his decision. Do you think missing on those guys diminishes the quality of this class, or do you think that once we get further away from National Signing Day TCU fans will look at this class and say "This is the best recruiting class Patterson has ever pulled in?"
JH: I don't know if you look at it and say this is the best TCU has ever pulled in, but I think you look at what you've got and you've got to like the pieces you did pull in. You addressed needs, and you did pick up some highly-rated guys. Could you have closed a little stronger? Maybe, but you weren't going to get all of those guys anyways, it doesn't happen like that. On rare occasions do you see something like that happen.
I think they got some guys, we'll see what happens with Sci Martin, he's got a big decision to make with Alabama and LSU still in the mix. Sci has always liked TCU, TCU has always been in his corner, and I remember when we broke his commitment to TCU he mentioned he wanted it to be his final choice, and at that time he had an LSU offer.
I think it's still a very good class regardless of those misses, and I think just to be in the finals for Christmas-Giles and Cleveland, I though they were going to get Cleveland. DCG seemed to be trending in a different direction and Porter, I mean, it came down to a depth chart, seeing that Darius [Anderson] was there already and Sewo [Olonilua] was coming in as a running back.
Overall, it's a very solid class and has a flavor of what TCU always brings to the table with speed and athleticism and some guys that really fit the attitude.
JP: You mentioned you thought Tyrie Cleveland was TCU bound, but he wound up at Florida. Does the signing day flip we saw with Ryan Parker offset not getting Cleveland?
JH: I don't know if it offsets not getting Cleveland, but they're both really good receivers. I think there may have been a little bit of a domino effect there. Oklahoma had pulled in a late receiver there as well. I think it's a great get. TCU knows Ryan better than anybody, and he knows exactly what he's stepping into with those coaches. This isn't a guy that comes in as a mystery JUCO, this guy has been around the coaches, he's been around the campus, and he knows the program well.It's definitely a guy that could come and do some damage early on. It's definitely a big get.
Tyrie is what he is and Ryan is a different animal, but both are very good, and it's hard to complain when you get a guy like him.
JP: Do you have any other final thoughts on the class?
JH: It's a really strong class. You've got a lot of potential weapons there. I think it'll be a really strong group that we look back at and talk about for a few years.