TCU dropped their game one depth chart Friday night, releasing the starters for the Horned Frogs’ season opener against Southern - HAPPENING ONE WEEK FROM TODAY.
For the most part, it was what we expected - Shawn Robinson at QB, Jalen Reagor at at Z Receiver, Ben Banogu at DE. But, there were several surprises on the two deep on both sides of the ball as well.
Let’s take a look at what Gary Patterson will be rolling out when football starts September 1st.
Shawn Robinson is the starter, as announced last week. Michael Collins is, as expected, QB2, with Grayson Muelhstein third of the depth chart. Justin Rogers, who is not yet fully cleared to play, is not listed.
For the first time in a while, we don’t have an or or situation at RB. Darius Anderson is the starter, Sewo Olonilua will back him up (but likely take nearly as many snaps), and in a somewhat surprising move, Kenedy Snell beats out juco transfer Emari Demercado on the three deep.
No surprises at C (Kellton Hollins), LG (Cordel Iwuagwu), or RT (Lucas Niang), but both RG and LT are still a battle. Four star juco transfer Anthony McKinney is locked in a dead heat with sophomore Austin Meyers at left tackle, with redshirt freshmen Quazzel White looming at third string. On the right side, seniors Chris Gaynor and Trey Elliott are competing to start at guard. Redshirt freshman Wes Harris, who has been called out positively by Gary Patterson a handful of times in the preseason, currently sits in the third position.
No surprise that Reagor is in the lead at Z, but seeing Ni’ Jeel Meeking ahead of freshman John Stephens, Jr is interesting. Stephens has looked great in camp, so Meeking must have impressed down the stretch. Across from Reagor, senior Jaelan Austin and KaVontae Turpin will alternate lining up outside, and TreVontae Hights will also take snaps. Inside, it’s Jarrison Stewart and Dylan Thomas, with freshman Taye Barber and redshirt freshman Al’Dontre Davis backing them up, respectively.
Missing from the three deep currently is highly-touted true freshman Tevaillance Hunt. The wide receiving unit as a whole has just 39 career starts and 253 career receptions - over 100 of which belong to Turpin.
Ben Banogu is holding down the fort on one side, with Ty Summers making the move down to DE and starting opposite him. Patterson has noted that Summers will slide back and forth between DE and LB throughout the season depending on matchups. Seniors Michael Epley and L.J. Collier will back up Banogu and Summers, with freshman Ochaun Mathis and sophomore Brandon Bowen also expected to contribute.
With the loss of Ross Blacklock, Terrell Cooper slides into a starting role next to sophomore Corey Bethley. Redshirt freshman George Ellis III and senior Joseph Broadnax, Jr. will be a part of the rotation, with Epley also sliding inside at times, as well.
With Summers moving in, the biggest surprise of the depth chart is the insertion of sophomore Garret Wallow gets the nod at SLB. Wallow, who played on special teams last year and was originally recruited as a safety, was banged up early in camp but appears to have come on late. At 6’2” and 212 pounds, he should be able to drop down to pass coverage and hold up against the run. Next to Wallow is Arico Evans, a talented senior who should make a big impact if he can stay healthy. NIU grad transfer Jawaun Johnson is currently listed as Wallow’s backup, with Alec Dunham slotted behind Evans.
Not surprising is Jeff Gladney, who will start at one CB spot. Holding down the other side will be Julius Lewis, Noah Daniels, or a combination of the two. Lewis is still working his way back mentally after an injury in 2017, while Daniels has impressed Patterson time and time again in preseason work. Expect to see both early.
It’s good to see Ridwan Issahaku earning the starting nod at weak safety after returning to the program this month. Innis Gaines has breakout potential as the starter at SS, and Niko Small should be a leader for the unit as the starting free safety. It’s a young group behind them, though, with two true freshmen and two redshirt freshmen on the three-deep.
TCU has yet to name a starting place kicker, with Cole Bunce and Jonathan Song still competing to be the guy on field goals and extra points. Adam Nunez, a Ray Guy Award Watch List Nominee, will punt for the Frogs, while TCU fans will get plenty of #TurpinTime with the senior returning punts and kicks this fall.
Here is the depth chart in its entirety:
It’s a young team for TCU, as we all expected, with just three players that have 20 or more starts - Summers (25), Small (23), and Austin (20). The Frogs will start 13 players that have eight starts or less next week. Only one player has a 100 yard rushing game in their career -Anderson three times - and Turpin is the only player with at least ten career touchdowns. 30 players on the two deep are in their first or second year in the program, with six of them starting.
We will see how it all shakes out, one week from today.