Athlon Sports recently recognized nine TCU football players with Preseason All Big-12 honors this past week. Two of those players are expected to be key contributors on the defensive line when the Horned Frogs kick off the 2020 season.
With Ross Blacklock going to the Houston Texans in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, senior Corey Bethley will have an opportunity to anchor the interior of the defensive line this fall. A two-time All-Big 12 Honorable Mention, Bethley has started 25 consecutive games for the Horned Frogs, totaling 13.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks over that span. Bethley has appeared in 39 games at TCU, making him the team’s most experienced defensive lineman returning for the 2020 campaign.
Expect to see Terrell Cooper on the field quite a bit as well. Cooper recorded his first two collegiate sacks this past season, and with 25 appearances over the last two seasons, Cooper has the experience necessary to rise up in his redshirt junior season.
Blacklock’s departure means that head coach Gary Patterson will need someone to step up and fill his large shoes in the trenches. Three big bodies returning this fall who could emerge are redshirt sophomores Izaih Filikitonga, Soni Misi and junior George Ellis III. Ellis appeared in six games during the 2018 season but did not see action in 2019. Fikitonga missed the 2019 season to injury, while Misi played in four games to preserve a redshirt.
Looking outside, TCU will lose graduate transfer Shameik Blackshear, but there are still several players to consider. The Horned Frogs added two transfers in former Oklahoma defender Mark Jackson Jr. and former New Mexico linebacker Dylan Horton. While Horton will likely redshirt, Jackson could be an instant-impact pass rusher this fall. Despite not seeing many reps in 2019, Jackson frequently made plays during the 2018 season, compiling 43 total tackles, seven tackles for loss and three sacks.
Senior Parker Workman and sophomore Colt Ellison are two more names to keep eyes on this fall. Despite missing three games to injury this past season, Workman notched 18 total tackles with one sack and five tackles for loss, fourth-best on the team. Ellison played in TCU’s last six games, finishing with seven total tackles.
The most notable returning Horned Frog defensive end is redshirt sophomore Ochaun Mathis, who earned Preseason All-Big 12 Second Team honors recently. The 6-foot-5, 235-pounder started all 12 games in 2019, ranking second on the team in tackles for loss with nine and third with 2.5 sacks. Mathis also had 40 total tackles, fifth-most on the TCU defense. Mathis has received high praise in the past, and 2020 could be the year he breaks out and becomes one of college football’s elite pass rushers.