Since the Washington Redskins drafted former Horned Frog standout Josh Doctson in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, only one TCU wide receiver has recorded a 1,000-yard season. That was Jalen Reagor, who forewent his senior season before the Philadelphia Eagles selected him in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Doctson and Reagor were the No. 1 targets for their respective quarterbacks, but with both players now removed from the program, TCU will be looking for its next top-tier receiving talent. The Horned Frogs are down two starters from 2019 including Reagor and Tre’Vontae Hights, who signed with the Carolina Panthers after going undrafted.
Maybe the most impressive play in this game was made by WR Taye Barber. The adjustment on this ball is crazy and it also came in a huge spot in the game. Also don’t overlook the throw from Duggan, stood tall and took a shot from a rusher so he could get the throw off.#WNSFilm pic.twitter.com/5sEdFdTxhf— Mark (@HeaneyNFLDraft) October 29, 2019
TCU will return two miniature fireballs this fall in Taye Barber and Derius Davis, who each took reps out of the H-receiver slot in 2019. Barber has been a steady producer for the Horned Frogs, topping 300 receiving yards in each of his first two seasons on the team. Barber, who started at the H-spot, was TCU’s leading receiver over its final seven games.
Barber pieced together a breakout freshman campaign in 2018, where he totaled at least once reception in every game, the first in head coach Gary Patterson’s then 18-year career leading the program. Moreover, Barber notched either a first down or a touchdown on 21-of-32 catches. The 2019 All-Big 12 Honorable Mention shined in TCU’s 33-31 win over Texas Tech, compiling eight receptions for 137 yards.
Davis, whose speed makes him a threat on special teams, has over 250 receiving yards in his career. His 73-yard punt return score against Southern in 2018 was the first special teams touchdown by a Horned Frog in his college debut since Deante Gray in 2012. Davis came to TCU with elite track speed, as this video clearly shows.
TCU DB signee Derius Davis just ran the 5th fastest 400m time in the nation pic.twitter.com/kvRbmiU9Dv— Amos Morale III (@Amos_MoraleIII) February 17, 2018
Reagor’s absence will mean a new starter for TCU at the Z-receiver spot. One player who could fill that role is Te’Vailance Hunt, who took a significant leap forward in 2019 with 308 receiving yards and a touchdown. The 6-foot-3 pass catcher and former four-star recruit started in nine games this past fall, and his most notable reception came during the first overtime of TCU’s marathon against Baylor, hauling in a scoring grab in spectacular fashion.
TCU’s Y-receiver slot will be benefited with the return of redshirt senior Dylan Thomas, who has been productive when healthy but has missed significant time over the last two seasons with injuries. Thomas started four games at the Y-spot in 2019, finishing with 121 receiving yards including a four-catch, 70-yard performance against SMU. Redshirt junior Al’Dontre Davis, who has six career receptions with one touchdown, was listed on the depth chart at the Y-receiver spot on more than one occasion this past year.
TCU’s final wide receiving slot comes from the X-position. Hights departing for the NFL will create opportunities for multiple young talents to step up this fall. Junior John Stephens Jr. possesses big-time size at 6 feet 5 inches and could create matchup nightmares for opposing defenses. Former JUCO standout Mikel Barkley may also see the field more often after preserving a redshirt season in 2019. Both players were depth charted as X-slot receivers this past season.
Lastly, one early candidate for a true freshman who could break out this fall is four-star recruit Quentin Johnston, the third-highest rated prospect in the Patterson era behind Zach Evans and Justin Rogers. The 6-foot-4, 180-pounder has a lean build but moves quickly and gracefully in the open field. Johnston had originally committed to the Texas Longhorns, but flipped to the Horned Frogs late in the process.