TCU recruiting has changed dramatically over the course of the last few years, as has the attention paid to it. With the Frogs competing with the blue bloods for several top recruits, we turned to Josh Harvey, the new TCU publisher for Scout, to update us on the new look Frogs and some names to watch.
TCU signed one of, if not the best, class in their history this past signing day, with seven four star recruits. What made the biggest difference for Gary Patterson and the Frogs on the recruiting trail?
There is no denying the move to the Big 12 Conference has helped TCU tremendously on the recruiting front. The Frogs have had a winning culture for quite some time, but guys want to play on the big stage. Winning in the Big 12, and not just for a year, has opened up doors on the recruiting front that were usually only for the conference’s elite. Patterson and crew have also shown they are not afraid to play guys early – if they warrant game reps. Recruits have taken notice. The other thing that is constantly mentioned to me by recruits is the feeling TCU is on the verge of finally breaking through. And not just being a top 15 team, but a playoff team. Recruits want to be part of something special and more than a few feel it could be in Fort Worth very soon.
Is there one player from the 2016 group that you think will have a big impact this fall, based on what you saw from him as a high school prospect?
We are already seeing junior college wide receiver Taj Williams have a big impact on the offense. Anytime a guy enrolls early to get a jump-start, I think it is a good thing. Williams has a lot of experience post-high school and played in big games at Iowa Western Community College. His 20 junior college touchdowns shows he has an knack for finding the end zone. His production against Arkansas didn’t match what he did against SDSU, but he will be another big weapon for the Frogs this season.
As good as the 2016 group is, the 2017 class might be better. Who is the key cog in that group, not just from an on the field impact, but as far as bringing in more big names?
There is no doubt it is quarterback Shawn Robinson, a border-line five-star prospect who 20+ offers, including LSU, Clemson, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma and Michigan. I believe he is the future signal-caller in Fort Worth and is a true dual-threat quarterback. The great thing about Robinson though might be the kid’s smile. He is great to be around. Quarterbacks are crucial in each recruiting class because they often early considered a leader in the class. Robinson is not only the highest rated recruit in TCU’s class, but also one of the most outgoing and likeable guys.
The Frogs have already lost two verbals from the 2017 group - Josh Thompson flipped to Texas, and recently James Lynch followed suit to USC - is this the start of a trend to be concerned about, or just the nature of the beast?
It is a nature of the beast, especially when you are recruiting with the big boys. Recruiting has changed so much in the last decade. The process has really sped up, which is causing us to see more de-commitments. I don’t think there is much to worry about. Don’t be surprised to see the Frogs land a flip or two down the road either.
Gary Patterson is one of the best talent evaluators in the country, and generally, when he offers a guy, other programs are sure to follow - see above. Are there any other under the radar players that TCU offered that may change their mind if "bigger" programs show them some love?
None that necessarily come to mind. Wide receiver commit R.J. Sneed is a guy I’m constantly asked about by other reporters. He has said before he will consider taking other official visits – including to Wisconsin. But at this point I wouldn’t say any of the college football “elite” have jumped in on his recruitment. I’m not even convinced he will take other visits. He feels pretty confident he could have a lot of success in the offense.
How good is Baron Browning, and how much of a chance does TCU have to sign the star linebacker?
I think TCU has a great shot at landing the linebacker – at least at this point. Many out there feel he will end up out-of-state, right now that is where his officials are scheduled. He is a legit five-star prospect. I like guys with versatility (so does Patterson) and Browning brings that to the field. He can play any linebacker spot and even defensive end. I also think he has an aggressiveness that can’t be taught.
What are a couple names for Frog fans to watch as far as remaining targets? Is there a player or two that TCU really covets that is on the verge of pledging?
Lancaster wide receiver Omar Manning is a guy high on the Frogs and vice versa. Texas appears to be the biggest competition for the senior, but Oklahoma and Texas A&M also appear to be in the mix. He plans to take all of his officials and is looking for a family atmosphere. Another player to watch is New Orleans (La.) John Curtis high school athlete Garrett Wallow. A projected safety, TCU and Arkansas appear to be the favorites to land his services.
TCU's star offensive coordinators are always going to be a part of the off-season coaching carousel - both Cumbie and Meacham had chances to leave this year, but chose to stick around. If/when one or both do eventually move on, are the Frogs going to be hurt in recruiting, or do they have a staff in place that can make up for the loss of one or both of their top recruiters?
I think TCU will be more than equipped to handle any recruiting fallout from Cumbie or Meacham taking jobs elsewhere. Staff turnover is never an easy thing, but Patterson has installed a winning culture that dates back well before either of them were associated with the program. Gary is also a head coach that seems to be involved in the recruiting process a little more than most head coaches. I’m also not convinced that if TCU lost both of them, the Frogs wouldn’t go out and hire dynamite OC. They have the resources to do it and it will be an attractive job for someone due to the talent level TCU has recruited at the last few seasons.
Thanks to Josh for taking the time to answer a few questions. Be sure to give him a follow on twitter (@JoshHarveyScout) and check out Scout site for all the TCU recruiting news you need to know. Scout and Josh were kind enough to offer a discounted subscription rate to Frogs O’ War readers: you can get three months for the price of one by clicking here and using the promo code FOWfans.