TCU has several players step onto the field as true freshmen and make an immediate impact on the field over the last several years. Guys like Deante Gray and KaVontae Turpin come immediately to mind as players who became household names before they had even bought their college text books. This past season, running backs Sewo Olonilua and Darius Anderson had moments of greatness, Lucas Niang saw considerable snaps, and wide receiver Isaiah Graham broke out in the bowl game. With the class of 2017 signed, sealed, and (almost) delivered, we look ahead at who might be the next great true freshmen to suit up in purple.
Jalen Reagor (WR):
It’s hard to pick just one of the talented wide receivers to highlight from this loaded class of 2017, as any one of Reagor, Omar Manning, and Kenedy Snell could become the next great pass-catcher to come through Fort Worth. But if I had to pick just one guy, my money is on Jalen.
Reagor has decent size (5’11’), electric speed (4.41), and the hands to be on the receiving end of big plays right from day one. He’s an exceptional route runner and by all accounts has an unbelievable work ethic and an insatiable desire to be the best. Manning has the more college-ready body (6’4”, 215, 4.5 40), but Reagor has ‘“it” - that unidentifiable quality that tells you a player is going to be great. With the struggles of the wide receiving corp from a season ago, it will be open season as far as competing for snaps come fall camp. I would expect all three of these young men to see the field, and Reagor to become a star.
Noah Daniels (CB):
I am developing a bit of a recruitment crush on Daniels, who absolutely looks the part of lockdown corner, both on paper and on film. At 6’1” and 190 pounds, he’s the second biggest corner on the roster before he steps foot on campus, providing much needed size to go up against some of the beastly wide receivers that litter the Big 12. He has elite speed (4.3 40) and plays with a nastiness that has to have Gary Patterson absolutely salivating at the thought of how he can use him as a cover guy and a blitzer.
Additionally, Daniels fills a huge defensive need for the Frogs, who had to play mix and match in the secondary all season due to injuries and inexperience. Daniels will find a way on to the field early and often, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he emerged as a starter before the season is over.
Corey Bethley (DT):
District MVP. All State. All District. 14 offers. 302 pounds.
The list of accomplishments and accolades almost add up to Bethley’s impressive size, and with a ready-made college body, Bethley could be the rare DT that takes snap as a true freshman.
No position group had more attrition this off-season than the defensive line, who loses starters Josh Carraway, Aaron Curry, and James McFarland to graduation. Though the talent level in the pipeline is incredibly high (Chris Bradley, Ross Blacklock, Joe Broadnax, LJ Collier, etc), it’s young and undersized - the only player to have taken snaps that tips the scales at three bills is Broadnax. Thus, Bethley becomesone of the biggest guys in the fold from the moment he steps foot on campus, and after watching the struggles against bigger offensive lines a year ago, that size is a sight for sore eyes.
Omar Manning (WR):
Okay, okay I talked myself into it. Manning is just so big and so fast for his size and so explosive... how could he not find his way onto the field in 2017?
With a 6’3” frame that can likely add to its 215 pounds without losing much in the way of speed, Manning certainly looks the part of number one receiver in a power five conference. He has what the Frogs have been looking for since the graduation of Josh Doctson - great feet, the ability to high point the ball, and soft as butter hands. He’s not afraid to fight for position and he can take a hit, often looking like a man among boys on the high school fields where he dominated.
The struggles of the receiving corp in 2016 are well-documented, but they return everyone but Deante Gray this fall. If you add in a size guy like Manning with the speed of Reagor and Snell to a group that has veteran talent in Taj Williams, John Diarse, and Ty Slanina, young guys with big potential in Jaelan Austin, Jarrison Stewart, and Emanuel Porter, plus Isaiah Graham and KaVontae Turpin, the skies the limit for the pass catching crew. Manning could play complimentary role or cornerstone, depending on how fall camp goes.