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TCU Football Preview 2016: Receivers

Josh Doctson may be gone, but the deepest system in TCU's offensive arsenal could be even more exciting in 2016...

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Let's just get this out of the way: JOSH DOCTSON IS GONE AND HE'S NEVER COMING BACK. And guess what? That's okay. It's also a little exciting. With Doctson gone, the playbook is going to open up. While there's probably no real guaranteed starter other than Turpin and maybe Slanina and Deante' Gray, there's going to be a lot of touches on the ball this year.

In the post-Doctson era, any of these receivers, unlike Lord Kerwin, who refused the call, can add something; and all of them working together, in a more diverse playbook, could mean something special.

Deep Ball Playmakers (X): Deante' Gray, Isaiah Graham

Deante' Gray*
Isaiah Graham
Andre Petties-Wilson*

KaVontae Turpin may have muscled Deante' Gray out of his old position, but Gray missing the 2015 season may have been a blessing in disguise for him and Turpin alike.

Getting to emerge as one of the most elusive players in the Big 12, KaVontae Turpin had his coming out party against Texas, and after that, he never really looked back. Whereas the fifth-year senior, Gray--who was the first person to ever score in the renovated Amon G. Carter and the first Horned Frog to score in the Power 5 era--returns in Kolby Listenbee's position and is primed for what could be his biggest season yet.

*Andre Petties-Wilson is just a suggestion. His frame and presumed speed--he returned punts and kickoffs in high school--should be a great third option in the split end.

If Elusiveness Could Kill (H): KaVontae Turpin, Desmon White




KaVontae Turpin
Desmon White

Not a lot of size here, but there's a helluva lot of shiftiness, and also...FUN.

Interesting enough, Desmon White seemed to have his games when TCU was on the road and struggling. You could say Iowa State wasn't a sloppy game; and sure, while the Cyclones didn't score after the first quarter, behind Mike Warren, the 21 points they did put up in that quarter, still forced TCU's hand to dig themselves out of a hole. White helped get TCU out of that 1st quarter mess after catching a 40+-yard strike from Boykin that help set up an eventual Kyle Hicks touchdown that put TCU up 10.

Big strikes in big situations is where you're likely going to find White in 2016.

KaVontae Turpin is probably the most hyped returning offensive player for TCU in 2016. Hell, you may even be the most hyped player and it's easy to see why. Coming out of high school the 3-STAR recruit didn't even have a picture on Rivals, that is until the Texas game. Now with a year under his belt, he's mastered the return at a young age and has the ability to run a wheel route and shift dudes out of their trousers so bad (SEE BELOW) it transcends time from skinny jeans to parachute pants.

Turpin--like Baker Mayfield, Pat Mahomes, or Malik Jefferson--should be one of the most exciting players to watch in 2016, regardless of who you pull for.


Dynamos (Y): Ty Slanina, John Diarse, Jarrison Stewart

Ty Slanina
John Diarse
Jarrison Stewart

The Y receivers mix size and strength together like an art. They're not the fastest, their sizes aren't as monstrous, but their diverse mix of the two makes them the most underrated unit of the team.

After suffering a broken collarbone in Lubbock, heavy fan favorite Ty Slanina will be the anchor in the position that also features LSU-transfer John Diarse and Jarrison Stewart. While Josh Doctson was certainly the MVP of the Texas Tech game, Stewart might've won TCU the game by filling in immediately and unexpectedly when Slanina went down.

Though John Diarse played the X role under Cam Cameron's multiple-set offense while in Baton Rouge, he'll mostly stick to Y in 2016. I say mostly because, at least in my opinion, a logical case can be made for Diarse to play on the outside in the red zone. While he's not extremely tall for an outside receiver--just right at 6-feet--Diarse adds some strength, and thus can double-up with a similar match on the other, very deep, (Z) side consisting of Taj Williams, Jaelan Austin and Emmanuel Porter.

From a personal #FrogsOWarPodcast standpoint, Diarse is my, and my loyal cohost's new Ja'Juan Story. Who'll be the next recipient of the Ja'Jaun Story Award? Only time will tell considering the very specific nature of the award: SEC Wide Receiver Transfer.

Endzone Menaces To Society (Z): Jaelan Austin, Taj Williams, Emmanuel Porter

Jaelan Austin
Taj Williams*
Emmanuel Porter

*JUCO Stats

Filling in Josh Doctson's shoes will be a quite the task, but on paper, this is the most exciting aspect of TCU's receiving arsenal. What he may've lacked in designing plays and serving as an OC, Rusty Burns is a tremendous asset to this team. Now, perhaps, even more then when Doctson and Listenbee were on the field at the same time, Burns has more toys to play with. While this was a fairly exclusive position the past two years, something that tends to happen when there's a first rounder on the field, this could be the most liberal position in terms of rotation.

Taj Williams, who was referred to by Jeremiah Glenn as a "faster, more athletic Josh Doctson", has every TCU fan counting down the days until kick off. Williams, the Iowa Western (JUCO) transfer opted for the Frogs over his hometown Florida State Seminoles. To re-emphasize the point I made above above Kenny Hill's arm leading to potentially wildfire-like consequences with Deante' Gray on the outside, the same applies to Williams. He led all JUCO in receptions (77), and like most players in Meacham's system, his average catch exceeds 11 yards (12.3). He may not bring the intangibles Doctson had--at least not right away--but his speed and athleticism, added with what should be a stronger arm for up-field plays, Williams could be a real superstar in the Big 12 sooner than later.

Emanuel Porter and Jaelan Austin also have the perfect skill set for a quarterback like Hill. Both had established their names in the Alamo Bowl, each coming up with big touchdowns--they were also the Frogs' only receptions for scores in a 47-point game.

Is Emanuel Porter really a third stringer? No. But on any given Saturday, he could be the third guy in line; and another Saturday, he could be first in line. Still, it should rotate quite frequently and I wouldn't be surprised if any of these guys got reps at the X as well.

Slotback: Replacing Nixon

Shaun Nixon got the ball more as a receiver than he did as a running back. Now, it looks like whatever Meacham and Cumbie were going to do with Nixon will have to wait until 2017 as it was announced that Nixon will sit out the 2016 season with injury.

It isn't the end of the world, and even with Aaron Green's departure, the addition of former Michigan Wolverine, Derrick Green, now really comes in handy. Hard to say if Green can serve in that slotback position or if he'll serve as a third down back alongside Trevorris Johnson, or just a first down back when Hicks needs a rest. Probably likely the latter as Green has about 40 pounds on Nixon.

We know that Nixon made for an exciting receiving threat. While a lot of his yards came as running back essentially playing the slotback position, his lone touchdown against Kansas came on a second down sneak route, playing more in the truer, book definition of the slotback position in an empty set.

So can anyone fill that position? It make things a lot more interesting, but it could change the course for someone like Desmon White or one of the younger players. Using a these shorter routes with potential big play capabilities with his skill set; routes like a crease/wheel or a shoot, under presumably Kenny Hill, could have big payoffs in the pseudo back position Meacham and Cumbie love to use.

In Closing:

What could end up making this such an exciting arsenal this year is that there isn't one, particular standout. Turpin could be all Big 12 and beyond come next January. However, in addition to taking into consideration his kickoffs into his hype calculus, his frame simply won't allow for a Doctson-number (7.2 receptions per game, 2nd for a P5 player) of catches. What Doctson was able to was incredible; that being literally everything. No matter how hard logic would want to set in, because of how off a certain throw could be, or how tightly he was being defended; Josh Doctson made things happen even when everyone knew who the ball was going to.

That's a tough call to answer for one kid in 2016, and it likely won't happen. The good news? Not only does that not really matter, but the more socialistic distribution of passes, could make TCU even harder to defend than it was in the Doctson era.

Mystery can be advantageous for TCU in 2016, but being mysterious doesn't really matter until we know the biggest remaining mystery, which if you're in my house, it's known as the worse kept secret since than R+L=J; and that's whether the guy throwing to this arsenal will be Kenny Hill or Foster Sawyer. Without an effective starter (cough, Hill), it's just meaningless exposition. But knowing every part involved--The Meacham design, the Cumbie tutelage, the assumed quarterback, and the receivers themselves--it likely won't be.

Pollercoaster Baby, Baby: