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Frog Freshmen: TCU Football players on the rise

Several young Horned Frogs like Zach Evans made statements with strong performances down the stretch.

NCAA Football: Louisiana Tech at Texas Christian Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Among the many stories that surfaced during TCU’s 5-1 finish to the 2020 season was the emergence of multiple freshmen who will play significant roles with the Horned Frogs as the team looks to build on its strong end to an unprecedented year.

Offensively, TCU found its cornerstone players in true freshmen Quentin Johnston and Zach Evans. Evans began the 2020 season buried on the depth chart, but the five-star running back earned his way onto the field. His breakout performance came against the Baylor Bears, who he gashed for 81 yards and a touchdown on only seven carries.

Evans averaged 8.6 carries per game over TCU’s last five games, a sharp contrast from the first five games, where he ran the ball only 2.2 times per game. Evans also reached the 100-yard rushing mark twice over his final three games and scored three touchdowns over that span. Evans ended the season ranked first on the Horned Frogs with 7.7 yards per carry.

Evans wasn’t the only freshman to shine in the offensive backfield this season. True freshman Kendre Miller averaged 7.2 yards per carry on the ground, carving the Louisiana Tech defense up for 136 yards and two touchdowns on only five carries in TCU’s season-finale against the Bulldogs. Redshirt freshman Darwin Barlow was also heavily involved, finishing second on the Horned Frogs with 428 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

Johnston proved to be another freshman whose talent was simply too much to keep on the sideline. The 6-foot-4 wide receiver became TCU’s deep-play threat, catching 22 passes for a team-high 487 yards and two touchdowns. Johnston averaged 22.1 yards per reception, far greater than any other Horned Frog wide receiver on the roster. Redshirt freshman Blair Conwright earned a starting role out of camp and enjoyed a successful start to the 2020 season, catching 11 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown over his first three games.

Combine all these weapons with four-star running back Daimarqua Foster and four-star wide receiver Savion Williams, who each missed some time with injuries, and quarterback Max Duggan will have a chance to develop some great chemistry with his teammates as he looks to build on a sophomore season where he totaled 20 touchdowns and led TCU in rushing with 526 yards on the ground. Four-star offensive lineman Garrett Hayes could make his way into the starting lineup as well.

True freshman Khari Coleman was a late addition to the Horned Frog 2020 recruiting class, and the decision has proven to be an excellent one thus far. The talented edge rusher totaled 33 tackles and three sacks in his first collegiate season, earning Freshman All-American honors from The Athletic and Co-Defensive Freshman of the Year from the Big 12 Conference. Coleman led all FBS freshman with 15 tackles for loss this fall.

Interior linemen Earl Barquet and Patrick Jenkins received opportunities to shine in the absence of Corey Bethley and Soni Misi. Barquet, a redshirt freshman, notched 2.5 sacks in six games for the Horned Frogs, while Jenkins, a true freshman and four-star recruit, recorded his first collegiate sack this year. Four-star defensive tackle Jaquaze Sorrells didn’t see action in 2020, but he could be a factor moving forward. Four-star cornerback Keontae Jenkins will be another player to watch for in the Horned Frog secondary.

Ultimately, TCU has several freshmen on both sides of the ball who have already claimed significant roles or are primed to step up in the near future. From 1-3 to 6-4 and beyond, the best football could not be too far off for the Horned Frogs.