The Frogs will sign their highest rated recruiting class in history next month, headlined by a bushel of top prospects and several intriguing Gary Patterson Diamond in the Rough specials. JT and Melissa talk the top players and who you need to know in this week’s He Said, She Said.
JT: Before we jump into the specific logistics of the class of 2017, I would like to offer up my personal philosophical musings on the importance of recruiting classes and National Signing Day. For years we have eschewed the importance of recruiting class statistics citing outliers like J.J. Watt and other two stars whose celestial moniker could not depict their grit and tenacity that exhorted them to out work their competition into the NFL. While we celebrate these narratives, they are merely feel good stories that we tell ourselves at bedtime on the first Wednesday of every February to take away the pain of another class outside the top 30. The harsh reality is that the talent of one’s recruiting class matters a great deal.
Statistically speaking, there is a reason that schools like Alabama and Ohio State seem to perennially be in the playoff conversation and it is directly correlated to the level of talent coming in every year. Alabama has a five star recruit backing up another five star recruit: think about that for a second. They have at one position at the same time more five star recruits than we have ever had on campus. This is not to say that Gary Patterson does not have a unique ability to evaluate talent better than most; he does. This is also not to say that Gary does not get the absolute best out of his players; he does. But for the majority of his tenure here, GP has been making lemonade out of lemons. What Gary Patterson has done, taking undiscovered, yet talented, two and three stars and competing against some of the best teams in the nation is an impressive feat. I, however, think this era is coming to a close.
Two of our top five all time recruits are from the 2017 class and 12 of our all time top 20 recruits are from the 2016 and 2017 class combined. Even since 2011, a lot of our three star recruits typically tend to reside just outside of the top three hundred list. The tides of recruiting appear to be changing at TCU. For the first time, we are in the trenches with the perennials for the top recruits in the country. We start to appear in top fives and top threes for five star recruits. We are consistently having four and five star recruits visit our campus and we are starting to have top tier recruits commit to our program. A couple weeks ago Frogs O’ War had an article about the writers’ top moments of 2016. I did not contribute to this article, but if I had, it would have been last signing day. It signifies to me that we are beginning our entrance into a different echelon of program success. It is an exciting time to be a TCU football fan.
Melissa: I agree. I’ll also add, that I will consider it another win if we don’t have to kick any of these top-rated recruits off campus, as happened with a few of our other highly rated signees (cough cough LaDarius Brown, cough cough Brandon Carter, cough cough Devonte Fields).
JT: Truth. Perhaps the only downside with higher rated recruits, is that they can sometimes come with some baggage. I also believe Ryan Parker and Tyree Horton are no longer with the team.
Melissa: With that, let’s jump into the guys that are expected to sign with, and stick around, TCU.
If I say you can’t pick Shawn Robinson, who’s the guy you’re most excited about in the class of 2017?
JT: You know me too well, because if given the option, this article would have turned into a Shawn Robinson article very swiftly. (By the way, my shrine is nearing completion. Pics coming soon.)
For me, it is definitely Jalen Reagor. He is the second highest recruit to ever step foot on campus, behind Ladarius Brown. We took him from Oklahoma, which is always a plus sign in my book. I have heard that he not only looks the part but is an incredible talent. And given our lack of production in the receiver department, I have the belief that he will come in and immediately produce for the frogs.
A second player for me would be Noah Daniels. Cornerback is also a position where we are thin. We had to convert Jeff Gladney, who filled in admirably, to play the position. I think he could come in and see the field as well.
Melissa: I have heard unbelievable things about Reagor as well, namely regarding his work ethic and unquenchable desire to be the best. He, Omar Manning, and Kenedy Snell could be one of the top one-two-three punches at receiver in the Big 12 pretty quickly. That’s as good a trio as anyone is singing at wide receiver this February, if not the best. I agree Daniels is crucial as well, and keeping him from flipping to Notre Dame has to be a top priority for the coaching staff. Noah, do you know that Notre Dame was 4-8 last year?
DT Tyreece Lott has all the makings of a GP diamond in the rough find that could develop into an absolute star, and Lakendrick VanZandt and Garret Wallow appear to be perfect fits in the defensive backfield. Both heady players, they should help with some of the alignment and reaction issues the Frogs secondary has suffered through the last two years.
Wes Harris might be my favorite guy in the class; an offensive lineman out of Aledo, he is not only an uber-talented player, but he loves TCU and has been the most vocal recruiter, along with Shawn, in trying to get great players to Fort Worth. I love him already.
JT: I mean how can you not love Wes Harris? He just seems like a solid dude. I also think his efforts in trying to help put this class together have demonstrated his commitment to this team as well as a desire for this team to be great. I don’t think we could ever have enough recruits like Wes Harris.
Who’s the one player the Frogs can’t afford to lose before signing day?
Melissa: Noah Daniels. He is being hotly pursued by Utah and Notre Dame, and we desperately need help at corner.
JT: I would argue for either Noah or Lakendrick. Van Zandt committed in tandem with Josh Thompson and Trestan Ebner. Both Ebner and Thompson are no longer committed to the team. While I think Daniels would be more detrimental in the immediate sense, I think it would be more defeating from a pride standpoint to have three players commit together and sign none of them.
Is there an undecided prospect out there you are hoping chooses TCU?
JT: I saw an article today that said that we have offered six recruits who are committed elsewhere in the past week or so. I am unsure what the picture looks like with our scholarship numbers, but I will be very curious to see what our sheet looks like on signing day. I think there may be a couple recruits who are committed elsewhere who may switch on signing day.
Melissa: Kamren Curl all the way. A 6’2” safety with 4.5 speed? Sign. Me. Up.
Paulsen Adebo also just reopened his recruitment, and he is a super interesting prospect who could be a plus corner in the 4-2-5. Any massive human along the offensive or defensive lines would be nice as well. TCU has made some nice moves securing some big bodies in the last few days, filling out the trenches in a way that should pay immediate dividends. So that frees us up to hope for some flash on the back end of the D.
One guy you really want to flip - to help the Frogs and hurt the team he’s currently committed to.
JT: I would really like to flip Elijah Walker. He is a juco player who is committed to Kansas state. It is always good to take from an in conference opponent and he would offer immediate assistance to the secondary.
Melissa: Walker is a great call - he is the kind of player that can step in immediately and help. I am also holding out hope that one-time Frog commit Josh Thompson returns to the fold from Texas, but he has remained pretty firm in his plans despite the drama and changes in Austin. The Frogs have been going hard after Oklahoma State commit Fua Leilua, a JUCO DT that could be a big time impact player as soon as next year. Taking him away from the Pokes, and inserting him in Aaron Curry’s role, seems like a win-win.
JT: I was considering putting Josh Thompson here, but I am not sure it’s even in the realm of possibilities. I would be mega dope though.
Melissa: Hey, his dad still follows us on Twitter, so… there’s a chance ;)