The Horned Frogs are loaded at QB for 2018... and the next several years after that. With true sophomore Shawn Robinson, true freshman Justin Rogers, Penn transfer Michael Collins, and redshirt senior Grayson Muehlstein, there is no shortage of talent, IQ, and leadership behind center for TCU.
There are plenty of questions as far as how things will shake out come opening day, especially once the news that highly-touted true freshman Justin Rogers was on track to make a full recovery from a devastating injury suffered early in his senior season of high school. The fact that Rogers is throwing, and expected to be at or near 100% by the time fall camp starts, certainly throws a wrench into the equation. But, just because he’s fully healthy doesn’t take a redshirt year off the table - but we will get into that a bit later.
Gary Patterson keeps the depth chart notoriously close to the vest, but this is the best guess for how things will look heading into fall camp, and possibly, opening day:
Projected QB Depth Chart
|QB2||Michael Collins||6'4"||211||RS SO (TR)|
|QB3||Grayson Muehlstein||6'5"||218||RS SR|
QB1: Shawn Robinson, Sophomore (DeSoto High School - DeSoto, TX)
Robinson, the presumed game one starter, has more experience than anyone on the roster, and is the only quarterback that TCU has that has a collegiate start under his belt. That start, a win over Texas Tech, in Lubbock, showed off Robinson’s plus athleticism and cannon of an arm, though he struggled with his accuracy and was a little loose with the ball. In that game, he went 6-17 for 84 yards and a touchdown, and was victimized by a couple of drops and the vicious wind gusts on the plains. He racked up another 85 yards on the ground, including a game-defining 41 yard scamper on 1st and 25 on the Frogs’ first touchdown drive.
Robinson was banged up during that game, spending his time on the bench getting treatment, wincing in pain from some tender ribs, and wrapped like a mummy afterward. But, he was a gamer, and with the Frogs already down to their backup, found a way to finish - and to win.
Robinson has a lot to work on in year two, but the chance to prepare as a starter for a full offseason should work wonders for the young gunslinger. Athleticism has never been a question for him; in leading DeSoto to their first state title, the then senior passed for over 3,400 yards, rushed for nearly 1,500, and was responsible for 47 total touchdowns. But accuracy has also been a question mark, he had a 60% completion rate just once as a prep (during his sophomore year), and hit on just 58.6% of his passes during his last high school season. In a very limited sample size while at TCU, he completed just 48% of his attempts through the air.
One might, unfairly, compare a young Shawn Robinson to a young Trevone Boykin; both possess a unique ability to make something out of nothing, to do things with their feet generally reserved for five star running backs and NFL wide receivers. TCU fans will hope that the new QB follows in the footsteps of his predecessor on the field - Deuce improved his completion percentage each year on campus, going from a 57% completion rate to 65% as a senior. Much of that credit was given to Sonny Cumbie - if the QB whisperer can work some of that same magic on Robinson, TCU could have a special season.
One benefit that sophomore Shawn has that sophomore Trevone did not is established talent around him; Josh Doctson was still sitting on the bench is Boykin’s second season, and few of the other would-be stars were such in the early stages of his QB career. Robinson has a youngish and less experienced offensive line, but has veteran talent at running back and wide receiver, and a special talent in Jalen Reagor, who looks to be on track to be a faster, more physical Josh Doctson.
The Frogs’ schedule screams “MAKE A RUN” - TCU gets Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Iowa State at home, and needs only leave the state of Texas twice all season - at Kansas and a tough one in November in Morgantown. But, the pressure will come fast and furious for TCU’s new QB1, who plays at rival SMU in week two, preceding a national showdown with Ohio State at Jerry World, which comes before the Big 12 opener at Texas. That three week stretch will tell us a lot about the new man behind center - Robinson certainly doesn’t want to be The Guy that can’t beat the Horns after four straight Horned Frog wins, but at least both teams will be coming off of emotional wins or losses (UT plays USC the week prior). And lest you think he will get to take a breath after one of the toughest back-to-backs of the year, Iowa State comes to town a week later.
Yeah, we are going to know plenty about the new guy before September ends.
QB2: Michael Collins, RS Sophomore (University of Penn/New Canaan High School - New Canaan, CT)
Michael Collins is an interesting case; you don’t often see Ivy League transfer quarterbacks vault up the depth chart like the former UPenn backup has done since arriving in Fort Worth. Once and after thought and an interesting story, Collins has provided competition for Robinson while Justin Rogers recovers from injury, and gives Sonny Cumbie some insurance - and the freedom to redshirt the freshman phenom should he choose.
Collins ran the scout team last fall, and earned a scholarship in January for his efforts. And while no promises were made to him, the draw of playing big-time football and DI Saturdays were enough to get him to take a chance and enroll at TCU. Former New Canaan teammate, and current Frog, Lucas Niang couldn’t have hurt, either.
Collins, by all accounts, is more than capable of taking the reigns should the need arise (please, please, please let the Frogs stay healthy this fall), and adds a nice veteran presence to the locker room. God forbid, should Robinson miss any time, it would likely come down to a battle between Collins and Rogers for the starting job.
QB3: Grayson Muehlstein, RS Senior (Decatur High School)
Ahh, The Mule. Does anyone seem to enjoy college football more than the Frogs’ fifth year quarterback? Grayson has yet to attempt a collegiate pass, but seems to have the respect of his teammates and is always in the ear of whoever is taking snaps on the sidelines. The Mule is a college football outlier - the fifth year senior QB. In an era of competition breeding transferitis, Muehlstein is one of just two Power Five quarterbacks to play four years for the same school without ever starting a game, and one of seven throughout the entirety of the FBS.
Muehlstein, once a three star recruit, was the #4 QB in the state when he signed with the Frogs alongside another highly-touted prospect, Foster Sawyer, who left for the greener pastures and playing time opportunities at SFA. But Grayson stuck it out, playing in five games, garnering 10 carries for 34 yards thus far. I think most TCU fans would love to see him air it out this fall, and maybe get his first career TD. Maybe we will get that chance against Southern.
RS: Justin Rogers, Freshman (Parkway High School - Bossier City, LA)
Justin Rogers, the highest rated quarterback to ever sign with TCU, is the future. And while we all salivate at the opportunity to watch a true head-to-head battle between Rogers and Robinson, I still feel strongly that it will have to wait until 2019.
JR should have signed as a five star, but in the world of political recruiting rankings, he was knocked down a peg after committing to TCU/getting injured. An explosive athlete, Rogers threw for over 2,600 yards as a junior, tossing 26 TDs. He ran for another 566 and nine scores, showing off that he can absolutely move the chains when called upon, though he is a true drop-back passer in nature. He hit on 65% on his attempts playing in a tough high school league, and still has much room to improve, of course. As an early-enrollee, he has been in the playbook and under the guidance of Cumbie, but as he recovered from his injury, didn’t get the on-field work on his competition.
Rogers seems to be on track to be full recovered by the time camp opens, but just because he can, doesn’t mean he should. And the NCAA redshirt rule change makes it more likely than not that he will redshirt this fall, as he would be allowed to compete in as many as four games before losing a season of competition. Unless he comes out and wins the starting job outright (and, well, don’t put it past him), I think the Frogs will try and keep him off the field - except those four games, of course. And that’s good news for fans, who will find plenty of reasons to enjoy the Robinson, era, too. Rogers has a lot of the tangible and intangible things that you want from your quarterback. But, we may be waiting a while to see them.
The Rest of the Roster:
Karson Ringdahl (6’3”, 201 LB, Rock Bridge High School - Columbia, MO)
TCU is in the inevitable position of having a lot of competition in the most important room in the offices. While there is much wringing of hands amongst the fan base (BUT WHAT IF SOMEBODY TRANSFERS?!?!?!), having actual competition for the job can only serve to make each player, and thus, the team, better. And, there’s no reason to believe anything but that the player who plays the best will win the job - there’s no incumbent starter, no senior that’s been there, done that - it’s a bunch of young guys who will have to earn it. Let the competition begin.