News broke last week that TCU quarterback Brennen Wooten would be transferring to Tyler Junior College. He’s the second TCU QB to transfer this offseason, as Foster Sawyer transferred to Stephen F. Austin earlier this spring.
Wooten, a sophomore, sat behind Kenny Hill, Sawyer, and Grayson Muehlstein on the depth chart last season, and it looked like he’d be no better than third on the depth chart this year, with the addition of Shawn Robinson to the mix.
Wooten, a 3-star recruit out of San Angelo, was a Top 100 player in Texas for the 2016 recruiting cycle and a Top 30 Pro Style QB for the cycle as well. He chose TCU over offers from Clemson, Utah, Washington State, and several others. Wooten had also garnered interest from the likes of Alabama, Michigan, and UCLA, but because he shut his recruiting down so quickly, he never received offers from those schools.
Wooten was also one of the most vocal recruiters for TCU’s 2016 class, which included 8 4-star players and was rated as the No. 22 class in the country (3rd in the Big 12).
All of this makes Wooten’s transfer a bummer, because he was so, so high on the Frogs for so long. But, it’s understandable that he’d want to get a shot elsewhere, as the writing seemed to be clearly on the wall in Fort Worth.
Wooten’s transfer means that TCU has seen three highly-recruited QBs leave the program in the past two seasons. Wooten, Sawyer, and Zach Allen were all guys that TCU fans were pumped to see in purple.
It’s pretty easy, though, to surmise their reasons for transferring.
1. The emergence of Trevone Boykin
When Zach Allen committed in 2013, TCU fans still didn’t know what they had in Trevone Boykin, and Casey Pachall was in the midst of his recovery. All signs pointed to Allen coming in and making a push for early starting time. But we all know how the story unfolds. Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie are hired, and the offense completely explodes under their leadership, with Boykin at the helm.
The change of offense and the emergence of Boykin squashed Allen’s opportunity to see the field for those first several seasons. And then....
2. The Aggie-transfer duo
It started with Matt Joeckel, who, stuck behind Johnny Manziel, Kenny Hill, and Kyle Allen on the depth chart at varying times, transferred to TCU in 2014. He did something no other quarterback on the roster was able to do in the new offense: push Trevone Boykin in practice.
Joeckel’s presence and leadership played a large role in preparing Boykin to be the leader of the offense on the field and off of it. At the same time, Joeckel’s presence on the team meant that Zach Allen was bumped back on the depth chart for a while, until a knee injury ended Joeckel’s season.
Of course, with the QB position now firmly in Boykin’s grasp, the competition died down a bit.
But, as all good things are want to do, Boykin’s time as TCU’s quarterback came to a close, and it was time yet again to hand the reigns to a new signal-caller. Along came another Aggie, as Kenny Hill transferred to TCU. This move, in the spring of 2015, mean that redshirt freshmen Sawyer and Muehlstein were going to have to compete a little more for that starting gig once Hill’s year of sitting out (due to transfer rules) was over.
3. Gotta keep ‘crootin’
There’s a hard truth in sports that is often overlooked: Teams are constantly trying to improve. This means, simply put, that teams at whatever level, high school on up, are working to bring bigger, faster, stronger, better players in to give the program a better chance of finding success.
This shouldn’t be seen as a slight to previous recruiting classes, it’s the nature of the beast, but we often forego a holistic look at athletics in favor of hanging our hopes on one or two current players.
And, the reality is, that as TCU continues to grow as a program, they’re going to continue pursuing and signing higher rated recruits. We saw this just this past cycle with the signing of Shawn Robinson, Jalen Reagor, Omar Manning, Wes Harris, and so many others. We’re seeing it again this year with the recruitment of some more insanely talented high school players.
Yes, there are anomalies. A lot of Frog fans had no clue, as they chanted “Marcus Jackson,” what Andy Dalton would become. But guys like Dalton, Jason Verrett, and Derrick Kindred, are exceptions to the rule, not the signal of a faulty ratings process. We can laud the fact that Gary Patterson and Co. are particularly skilled at finding the kids who fall through the ratings cracks, while also celebrating TCU’s ascension up the recruiting class rankings.
For Wooten, Sawyer, and Allen specifically, they were some of the more highly touted recruits TCU had ever landed at QB. And yet, they’ve all moved on to other programs. Why? this leads me to my last point.
4. Sometimes things just don’t work out
It’s not anyone’s fault. Everyone, players, coaches, and fans alike, all hoped that these guys would be the next star QB for the Frogs. But sometimes our path veers in a direction we aren’t expecting, and it can happen in an instant.
This is also the biggest reason that I tend to keep cheering for guys who transfer from the program (yes, there are exceptions to this rule). Just because they didn’t find individual success here doesn’t mean that we should wish them a lifetime of searching.
So, best of luck to Wooten and Sawyer as they start new journeys, and best wishes to Zach Allen as he heals from a torn ACL.
The Frog Fam wishes you well.