clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2020 TCU Football Preview: Linebackers

Garret Wallow headlines a versatile core of players who made a large impact on the TCU defense this past season.

Baylor v TCU Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The 2019 season was a coming-out party for many TCU defenders, but not many arguably shined more throughout the fall than linebacker Garret Wallow.

Wallow began making his presence felt his sophomore season in 2018, finishing third on the Horned Frogs with 72 tackles and starting seven games. But the senior linebacker took an enormous leap this past season, compiling an astonishing 125 tackles which lead all Big 12 defenders. His ascent to the elite Division I talents was on display against SMU, when he recorded 19 tackles, the most for a TCU defender since Travin Howard in 2016.

A converted safety who moved down to linebacker for the Horned Frogs, Wallow led TCU with 18 tackles-for-loss in 2019. His performance garnered First-Team All-Big 12 recognition from both AP and the conference, and when Wallow returns for his senior campaign this fall, he’ll immediately rank among the best linebackers in the country, perhaps for both his play and his dance moves.

While Wallow is virtually a lock to start at his usual strong-side linebacker position, who will flank him in the middle of the TCU defense could be a battle between a few talented returning Horned Frogs. Junior Ben Wilson is primed to make a big impact after missing the first five games of the 2019 season with an injury. Wilson, once the top-ranked inside linebacker prospect in Washington state, recorded a career-high 11 tackles in his first career start against Baylor.

if TCU doesn’t keep La’Kendrick Van Zandt in the secondary, head coach Gary Patterson could bring him back to the linebacker core, where he started three games before missing five games of the season to injury. Van Zandt, a redshirt junior, totaled a personal-best five solo stops against Iowa State, where he started at linebacker.

Two freshmen who gained a lot of experience this past season were Dee Winters and Wyatt Harris, who combined for 54 tackles. Harris, a bigger linebacker at 6 feet 3 inches and 218 pounds, started six games in 2019 and made a variety of plays including an interception against Texas Tech, one sack against Kansas State and a career-high seven stops against both Oklahoma and Texas. Winters turned some heads against Purdue, where he earned his first career sack and brought home 2019 Athlon Defensive Freshman of the Week honors. A multi-sport standout in high school, Winters took some big-time rips on the diamond.

Finally, one player to keep an eye on down the road is JUCO transfer Jamoi Hodge, who the Horned Frogs flipped from Nebraska during the 2020 recruitment process. The three-star linebacker and former Independence Community College player ranked as high as the No. 3 outside linebacker prospect from North Carolina. At 6 feet 2 inches and 225 pounds, Hodge certainly has the size to fit the mold of a TCU linebacker.