Off-season twitter is a crazy thing.
Some days, it’s off the rails, but, occasionally, someone raises a really fun question that lets us think about the possibilities an alternate timeline might bring. Earlier this month, we were faced with such a query:
Testing a theory: If your alma mater/team you root for could add one player from its history onto this year's college football team, who would it be?— Kevin Flaherty (@KFlaherty247) July 2, 2019
And it got us to thinking: what is the 2019 version of TCU Football missing, and what all-timer would be perfect to fill that void?
We got a ton of answers. I mean... there were a BUNCH. Most of them were really good. Some were really funny. Some were ridiculous in the best possible way. Others were this guy’s and this guy’s. Even some former players chimed in, which gave us this wonderful thread:
July 3, 2019
Let’s look at some of the best responses and how they might fit.
With five QBs on the roster and very little experience among them, quarterback was a popular answer among Frog fans. There were four different former players mentioned, and each has a pretty good argument behind them (presented in chronological playing order).
Sammy Baugh: One of the best athletes to suit up in purple, Baugh could not only run the Frogs up-tempo offense, but he could take snaps at DB and punt. One of the first great passers in football history, Baugh was a star baseball player, too. Slingin’ Sammy could put up points in bunches in the Big 12, and probably lead the league in interceptions. And home runs. And punt average.
I bet he could dunk, too.
Davey O’ Brien: A Heisman Trophy winner, O’Brien set all kinds of passing records once taking over in the backfield for Baugh in 1937. Another elite athlete, he would certainly be an all-conference caliber player for the Horned Frogs, but, more importantly, no one would risk getting in trouble around this former FBI Agent, either.
Andy Dalton: The Red Rifle is (arguably) the best quarterback of the modern era for the Horned Frogs. He’s certainly had the longest-tenured professional career of any passer to come through TCU.
Dalton is beloved by Frog fans for leading TCU to back to back undefeated regular seasons, a Rose Bowl, and ultimately the Big 12. And while he doesn’t have the resume of highlight plays that our next nominee does, it’s unfair to ignore the statistical greatness of his four year career and the off the field intangibles that led to him being a high second round pick. Dalton completed over 60% of his pass attempts in his career, including a 67% completion rate during the Frogs’ 13-0 masterpiece. Over his last 26 games, he threw for 50 touchdowns against just 14 interceptions. That kind of consistency threw the air, matched with an above average running ability, would be a deadly weapon for a TCU offense featuring two powerful, experienced backs and one of the most dynamic receivers in college football. Dalton was a threat to make not only the big play, but the right play, every time he took a snap. It’s hard to argue that he wouldn’t make the Frogs into a playoff contender in 2019.
Trevone Boykin: Well, first, it must be said that we are only looking at Trevone’s on the field performance for the Frogs, and not the off-the-field issues that effectively ended his career at TCU and has followed him since.
Well, Deuce is absolutely the most exciting QB to put on the purple, with a litany of SportsCenter Top Ten plays and the kind of big ability that led the Frogs to a shared Big 12 title and a destruction of Ole Miss in 2014. His running ability, ability to throw on the run, and connect on the deep ball would elevate Jalen Reagor from a guy more people should be talking about to the guy everybody is talking about - and a surefire first round draft pick in the mold of Josh Doctson. Deuce could just do things on the field that few others could, and while he tended to turn the ball over more than Dalton and was more of an injury risk, watching him to go toe to toe with Matt Campbell’s defense or keeping up with Lincoln Riley’s offense would be a blast to watch.
LaDainian Tomlinson: He’s arguably the best-ever, and inarguably the best-ever of the modern era of TCU Football. Though running back isn’t the biggest position of need for the Frogs in 2019, many believe in taking the best available player. Would a runner like LT make up for the questions at QB? Probably not. Would he be a hell of a lot of fun to watch in the Big 12? Absolutely.
Josh Doctson: Jalen Reagor is a verified super-duper star, but has yet to have a true number two rise up alongside him. It would be downright unfair to line up Doc alongside him. Complementing Reagor’s speed and route-running ability with Doc’s catch radius and athleticism at the position would make just about any QB that lined up behind center much, much better.
Marcus Cannon: Cannon was one of the best offensive lineman on a unit that was chock full of talent, and would have likely gone higher in the NFL Draft than the fifth round if not for a cancer diagnosis during the pre-draft process.
Cannon locked down the right side for his first three seasons as a Frog before transitioning to Dalton’s blind side in 2010 - he did not allow a sack as a junior and was part of a unit that allowed just nine sacks all year as a senior. After watching the pummeling Shawn Robinson and Michael Collins took last season, the thought of lining up Cannon opposite Lucas Niang would certainly anchor a unit that should already be better than it was a season ago.
Jake Kirkpatrick: Another member of the stellar unit that led TCU to back to back undefeated regular seasons and a Rose Bowl, Kirkpatrick was an All-American twice for the Horned Frogs and took home the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s best center in 2010. The 2019 version of the TCU Football team might actually be in pretty decent shape at this position - with Kelton Hollins and Estaban Avila set to battle it out in fall camp, but Jake is an all-time talent who brought skill to the field and countless intangibles off of it.
Halapoulivaati Vaita: Big V is another candidate to return as a blind side tackle for TCU, and with one of the best starts to his pro career as any recent Frog, it’s hard to argue that his impact on the o-line wouldn’t be significant. One of PFF’s highest graded tackles during his time in Fort Worth, Vaitai was critical to the success of record-breaking offenses for the Horned Frogs in 2014 and 2015, helping to produce thousand yard rushers and receivers in the former.
Bob Lilly: D-Tackle might be the biggest position of strength for TCU heading into the season, with Corey Bethley having already been named a preseason All-Big 12 selection and Ross Blacklock set to return from an injury that cost him all of 2018.
But, Bob Lilly isn’t just one of the greatest players in TCU history, he’s an NFL Hall of Famer, so it goes without saying he would make the Horned Frogs better in 2019.
After anchoring a defense that allowed only eight (8!!) points per game in 1959, Lilly became an All-American the following season, turning that success into becoming the 13th pick in the 1961 NFL Draft - the first selection in Dallas Cowboys’ history. The man they call “Mr. Cowboy” could certainly be “Mr. Horned Frog” if given the chance to play for a wizard like Gary Patterson.
Jerry Hughes: One of the most dynamic pass-rushers of the Patterson era, Jerry Hughes went from high school running back to spending time in offensive backfields with a very different goal in college. Hughes led the country with 15 sacks as a junior, and followed that up with 11.5 in 2009, good for the 7th best mark in NCAA Football. He was a holy terror of the edge for the Frogs, using his speed and athleticism to overwhelm offensive linemen.
Having lost three All-Conference selections in the last two years to graduation, Patterson’s 2019 defense is looking at some untested edge rushers to wreak havoc alongside Bethey and Blacklock. An experienced and proven menace like Hughes would absolutely be a difference maker, and make his ten teammates on that side of the ball all that much better.
Tank Carder: Everyone remembers the man we call Tank for that one play. But Carder was a heck of a player even before the moment that forever engraved him into Horned Frog lore. Even with the good news that Dylan Jordan would be joining the team this fall after all, linebacker remains the biggest question mark on defense, with very little experience in a unit that has to be great for Patterson’s defense to be great. Everyone seems to believe in Garret Wallow (and for good reason), but the health and readiness of his running mates remains in doubt with just three weeks to go before fall camp opens. Adding the 6’3”, 237 pound Tank to the mix would certainly shore things up, and bring an extra dose of fire to a side of the ball that can never have enough of it.
Jason Verrett: Jeff Gladney is, statistically, the best cover corner in the Big 12, and has a good running mate in Julius Lewis. But Jason Verrett is a first-round talent, an All-American, and the kind of player that teams tend to want to avoid. When your options are Verrett or Gladney to throw at, you kind of don’t want to throw.
JV remains one of my favorite Frogs, not just for his ability on the field, but the way that he bounced back after being absolutely torched in his first year on campus after transferring in from Santa Rose JC. As a junior and senior, he combined for over 100 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, eight interceptions, and 13 passes defended. He would turn a very, very good TCU secondary into one that even the Big 12 wouldn’t be able to throw against with much success.
Sam Carter: Sam Carter was incredibly productive over his four year career at TCU, starter 39 games while making 175 total tackles. He added 13 career interceptions and 18 pass breakups, as well as 14.5 TFLs. But what truly made Carter such a great player for Patterson was just how smart he was - few have truly understood GP’s playbook and been a coach on the field the way the current Defensive Analyst at Mizzou did. It’s truly no surprise that Carter is still in football, and continuing his career in the game on the sidelines - you could see he was a future coach even during his playing days. Put a guy like him in a defensive backfield edged by Gladney and Lewis, alongside Trevon Moehrig and Vernon Scott, in a rotation with Innis Gaines, and you have yourself a heck of a unit. Though you could argue that a healthy Gaines could be just as good as Carter was, too.
Jaden Oberkrom: There’s only one answer here, as the man they called Legatron isn’t just the best kicker in TCU history, but one of the best ever in the Big 12. Oberkrom was nails in his four years as the starter for the Horned Frogs, nailing countless pressure kicks, including memorable ones in the snow at WVU and against Oregon in the forever to be remember Alamo Bowl.
It’s hard to argue, that at any position on the field, kicker would be the one to use an all-time great at, but who can blame Frog fans for wanting some level of consistency after what they have experienced the last few years?
Which of these players would you choose to join 2019 TCU Football? Do you have a name that didn’t make the cut (I was surprised to not see Paul Dawson or Travin Howard mentioned, or maybe Jeremy Kerley as a specialist?)?
Let us know in the comments!