Patterson has been impressed by Hill and his young defensive linemen early in fall camp, but it’s the wide receiving corp that has him giddy.
Patterson also likes how some of TCU’s wide receivers are bouncing back from 2016 injuries, saying that junior receiver KaVontae Turpin has “looked really sharp,” and senior receiver Ty Slanina “has looked as good as I’ve ever seen him.”
TCU finished 29th in FBS last season with 268.2 receiving yards per game and Patterson is optimistic about freshman receiver Jalen Reagor who he says has “tremendous upside” as well.
Davis is the first power five commit out of West Feliciana since 2014, and has a ton of upside for the Frogs.
WFHS coach Robb Odom applauded the choice. Davis, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound senior defensive back/running back, chose the Horned Frogs of the Big 12 from a list of offers that included Tennessee and Kansas State.
“We’re very excited and happy for Derius,” Odom said. “We knew he was capable of playing college football on a high level and also running track on an elite level, too. He considered his options and made the best choice for him.”
Though former teammates Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates weren’t allowed to attend, LT’s former coach got on a plane after the first scrimmage of fall camp to watch his friend. He got back on that plane and will return in time for practice today.
"He's a great guy," Patterson said. "He was a great player but he is an even better person. What he's done for TCU, college football and the NFL. He is such an ambassador. You can't it into words. He has meant a lot to TCU. That is what you do. That is what friends do."
LaDainian Tomlinson Hall of Fame Reaction:
An incredible oral history account of LT’s rise to prominence. With interviews from Basil Mitchell, Lorenzo Neal, Gary Patterson, and a money quote from Corey Dillon, it’s a must-read. The humility of LT is a thread throughout, and makes you appreciate him that much more. Really well done by writer Drew Davison.
Basil Mitchell, who played two seasons with the Green Bay Packers (1999-2000): “I was home for the off-season and I remember my brother went to a party LT was having. LT was in his room hanging up a picture of Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders and my brother joked with LT, ‘You’re going to be one of the best in college football, too.’ LT said, ‘Nah, I’m going to be the best ever.’ This was going into LT’s senior year and my brother said, ‘Watch LT this year. That look in his eye, I believe him.’ That made an impression on me just because of my brother’s reaction. You knew this dude was a special guy.”
I have never been prouder to call LaDainian Tomlinson a TCU graduate. The impact from his speech will reverberate for years.
All spoke eloquently, with bursts of humor and heartwarming stories. But Tomlinson's words resonated so strongly that he drew several standing ovations not only from the crowd of 13,400, but from his now-fellow Gold Jackets.
"Football is a microcosm of America," Tomlinson said. "All races, religions and creeds, living, playing, competing side by side. When you're part of a team, you understand your teammates — their strengths and weaknesses — and work together toward the same goal, to win a championship.
"Let's not choose to be against one another. Let's choose to be for one another. ... I pray we dedicate ourselves to being the best team we can be, working and living together, representing the highest ideals of mankind. Leading the way for all nations to follow."
Always known for his humility, LT showcased it once again Saturday night.
"I grew up dreaming about running the ball like the great Jim Brown, the late Walter Payton and the NFL all-time rusher, Emmitt Smith," he said. "Tonight I stand on the shoulders of you.''
He spoke of two brief meetings with Smith at a football camp when he was 12 and how that gave him the confidence to pursue his football dreams.
The story, which I had not heard previously, was incredibly moving and very powerful.
"My name began with the man who owned my great-great-great-grandfather. Now, it's proudly carried by me, my children, my extended family. People stop me on the street because they know as L.T. the football player. But after football, people have begun to recognize me as LaDainian Tomlinson, not simply for what I did as a football player, but for who I am as a man. The family legacy that began in such a cruel way has given way to successful, caring Tomlinsons. I firmly believe that God chose me to bring two races together under one last name: Tomlinson."
From there, Tomlinson, who was always soft-spoken on the gridiron, deftly weaved together the strands of football, race, immigration and America.
His tribute to his parents was beautiful as well.
He went through the usual list of people to thank — former teammates and coaches, as well as friends and family members.
But one stood out among the rest.
Tomlinson said he would not have been able to play in the NFL because of his mother, Loreane Chappelle.
Tomlinson cited the sacrifices his mother made, like saving enough money for Tomlinson to attend a football camp hosted by former Cowboys tight end Jay Novacek. Also at the camp were receiver Michael Irvin and running back Emmitt Smith, whom Tomlinson had a chance meeting at the camp.
Tomlinson said he left that camp "at the top of the world" believing he could fulfill his dream of playing in the NFL.
Tomlinson also thanked his late father, Oliver Tomlinson, and the "big heart" his son inherited. Tomlinson said God placed several people in his life at critical moments.
No one knows his greatness better than the people charged with corralling it. Champ Bailey was one such person.
I could remember sitting in a meeting with Mike Shanahan and we were looking at tape, and it wasn’t the tape on LaDainian. It was just some defensive snaps. And I remember he came around the corner and I missed him, and I’m looking at Shanahan waiting for him to say something, and I’m like ‘Yeah I gotta make that tackle.’ I said something first. ‘I’ve got to make that tackle’ and he’s like ‘Aw man, I know many people missing that tackle. That guy’s special.’
Tomlinson’s former coordinator at TCU, now coaching at Lamar, sent his well wishes to his running back. He also reflected on how he uses LT as inspiration for his players today.
In his news conference during Lamar’s team media day last Sunday, Schultz said Tomlinson is an example his players can follow because Tomlinson wasn’t offered many scholarships to major schools. TCU, North Texas, New Mexico and Baylor offered Tomlinson when he came out of Waco University High in 1997.
“You can’t measure heart,” Schultz said. “It’s hard to measure heart. LaDainian was one of the hardest working players I’ve ever been associated with. Unbelievable strength and unbelievable work ethic.”