Why did Niang return to school? He wants to be a first-rounder.
That didn’t sit well with him and he’s now on a clear mission. It’s not just to prove he’s among the top offensive tackles in the country, either.
“Man, I’ve got to prove that I’m the best,” Niang said at Big 12 Media Days earlier this week. “I look at myself as the No. 1 overall pick and I guess I haven’t shown the world that. My pass-blocking is fine. I need to definitely dominant in the run, maybe incorporate some NFL technique in my game.
But the big return comes with a smaller body.
Owning it he did. As soon as he fully recovered from the injury, Blacklock hit the weightroom and his conditioning hard. After all, he had to make up for lost time. Seeing Blacklock now, there is a noticeable difference. The once mammoth defender pushed the scales at nearly 330-pounds, now a “svelte” 300-pounds, Blacklock is in the best shape since arriving to TCU three years ago.
“To be honest, I didn’t know I was getting this small until I stepped on the scale. People were telling me ‘you look good’ but I was saying I looked the same,” he said. “Then I looked in the mirror one day and had a six-pack and everything. I was just going so hard I got to a point where I had to stop and just rest my body.
Patterson likes what he’s seen, but hasn’t see enough to name a starter.
With six weeks remaining until TCU’s opening game against Arkansas Pine-Bluff and six quarterbacks on the roster, head coach Gary Patterson has yet to name a starter.
“We were young a year ago, but after everything we went through at the end of last season we’re excited to get back,” Patterson said.
The race for the starting job is still wide open and Patterson said the high level of competition for the starting job will improve the teams on the field product once a starter is named.
“I always found when you have a high competition level you end up with a better product,” Patterson said. “The best part about it is they all get along.”
And people are still talking about it.
“I remember in overtime just sitting back and trying to enjoy it,” Nealy said. “You can’t control it. It was such a back-and-forth game where you had no idea what would (happen) next. And the sideline penalty ... there was some unique stuff that happened at the end.
“The Cheez-Its were flying at the end and it was a fun event.”
And no doubt: From a publicity standpoint, what happened on the field was more than what Nealy could ever ask for in supplementing the bowl game’s marketing efforts moving forward -- at least looking ahead to the 2019 edition of the game.
The incoming class is excellent, and gets bolstered by three young players returning from injury.
“There are some guys we’re super-excited about, especially on the mound,” Schlossnagle said. “Two or three of the better high school pitchers in the country made it to campus.”
More help is on the way in players TCU already has. Russell Smith is throwing off a mound, and Caleb Sloan is “progressing nicely” following their Tommy John surgeries before last season. Marcelo Perez is in a throwing program after his season was cut short two weeks before postseason by a shoulder strain.
“One of the bigger keys to our season will be how those guys come back and help us, those three pitchers,” Schlossnagle said.
Designated hitter Porter Brown is rehabbing in Fort Worth from his season-ending dislocated shoulder, suffered in a game in March, one inning shy of being ineligible for a redshirt year.