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TCU Football Preview: Freshmen to Watch

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The new redshirt rule means getting to know first year players a l

TCU Football practice (8.4.18)
Ochaun Mathis certainly looks the part of a DI defensive end, and he has the skills to back it up, too.
Melissa Triebwasser

Earlier this week, we named our breakout candidates for 2018, a list that ended up being soley comprised of redshirt and true freshmen. When you graduate 35 seniors, you’re bound to play some young guys soon, and with the new redshirt rules, that’s more true than ever.

Today, we focus just on the true freshmen, and five players that Gary Patterson has already taken notice of in the preseason. Who will be the next true freshman to burst on the scene? I would be on one of these guys.

Ochaun Mathis: Defensive End

If there is one guy who really stands out as a true freshman in camp, it’s Ochaun. He’s the player that makes people stop in their tracks and say “that guy is a FRESHMAN?” time and time again. And he has certainly caught the attention of his defensive-minded head coach, who has mentioned the 6’5”, 235 pound DE on more than one occasion. On August 4th: “Ochaun’s got a chance.” On August 10th: “You know, Dennis Collins, Ochaun, when Ty moves here, it will give us a compliment of guys.”

So what is it about Ochaun that makes him game-ready as a true freshman? Out of Manor, TX, Mathis was considered a three star prospect when he chose TCU over offers from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and others. A defensive playmaker in high school, he racked up 18.5 sacks and forced five fumbles in two years of varsity ball, terrorizing opponents with his freak athleticism and non-stop motor. His size and skillset is reminiscent of Ben Banogu, another speed rusher who has a real nose for the ball.

Though he will have plenty of competition across from Big Ben, he could earn snaps spelling Collier/Bowen - playing a similar role to what LJ did a season ago as a third down, pin your ears back and go get the quarterback player. The way things are going so far, it’s going to be really hard to keep him off the field this fall.

Tevailance Hunt: Wide Receiver

Another player that will be hard to keep off the field is Tevailance Hunt, a late bloomer who went from lightly recruited as a junior to a four star with 17 offers by the time his senior season kicked off.

Hunt had 69 (nice) receptions for Texas High a season ago to go along with 18 touchdowns, and time and time again, using a combination of speed (4.45 40), length (6’2” and can really get up), and route-running to impress on the football field. Already known as a hard worker, T Hunt is going to be a fan favorite for his million watt smile and Josh Doctson-esque ability to go up and make plays in coverage, and on somewhat off-target balls.

When you think about who may end up opposite Jalen Reagor outside, it’s not hard to imagine a rotation of Hunt and John Stephens, Jr competing for snaps against veteran Jaelen Austin - a quartet of players that will make things hard on any defense. Whoever gets on the field will certainly be fun to watch.

Ar’Darius Washington: Safety

I think most folks pegged Ar’Darius as a redshirt candidate, mostly due to his size (5’8”, 175 pounds), but there’s a reason LSU was so sad to see him leave Louisiana on signing day (when he flipped the night before) - the kid can really play.

Don’t let his lack of prototypical height fool you, the speedy Washington makes up for size with a mean streak and a ton of speed. A hard-hitter, the solidly build safety has made a big impression on Gary Patterson early, as injuries to Niko Small (who has returned to the practice field) and Atanza Vongor (who is potentially out for the year) have given him ample opportunity to impress. He also holds the distinction of having picked off now-teammate Justin Rogers, as the two were rivals in LA.

Electric with the ball in his hands, I have a feeling the Frogs will find a way to get him in the rotation, even if it’s in the return game. No matter where it is, expected Ar-Darius to get meaningful snaps this season.

Taye Barber: Wide Receiver

You want to talk about electric? You can’t talk that and TCU and not mention Taye Barber. Gary Patterson gets that same twinkle in his eye when he talks about the Houson-native as he did with another playmaking freshman four years ago - KaVontae Turpin. Barber was an early-enrollee, and the extra time on campus gave him time to impress - something he did during the Frogs’ spring game when he hauled in a nice touchdown pass from Michael Collins. He also has gotten noticed the right way for his off the field work, as Coach P referred to him as a “perfect child” last spring. “Our off-season hasn’t bothered him at all. The learning process hasn’t bothered him at all. Going to school hasn’t bothered him at all,” Patterson said. “He’s one of those guys where you just smile when you talk to him because he’s been a perfect child. What else can you ask for? If everyone did that it would be a lot easier on us.”

I remember him talking about a smile with another slot receiver who went on to have a pretty productive career - with more to come. Turpin 2.0? Barber certainly looks the part of the next 5’9” star for the Horned Frogs.

DeMauryon Holmes: Safety

A name not many people were expecting to be talking about in August, DeMauryon Holmes is another true freshman who has made the most of his opportunities on the practice field and in scrimmages through the first two weeks of camp, and his name seems to come up every time Gary Patterson starts talking defense.

DeMauryon was a very late addition to the class of 2018, signing just this past May out of Mansfield Legacy. At 6’1” and 200 pounds, he’s another bigger player in the secondary, an area of need that the Frogs have addressed very specifically over the past year. Holmes was unranked as a recruit and had no major conference offers, marking him as the typical diamond in the rough defensive find that will become an NFL draft pick four years from now. After initially signing with FCS program Central Arkansas, Holmes was looking to be closer to home due to an illness in the family. TCU had always kept tabs on him, and when a scholarship opened up, it was a no-brainer for the former All-District player and track star.

With solid end to end speed (4.47 40 & 21.28 200m) and a 163 tackle, 11 sack, and six forced fumble senior season, he has both the skills and the track record to be a future star for the Frogs. If there is one guy no one is talking about yet, but may be come December, I would put my money on DeMauryon.