Seven long years have gone by since sports fans and video game fans could come together and appreciate the truly beautiful creation that once was NCAA Football ‘14.
2021 hasn’t gotten off to an ideal start considering we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, but EA Sports came through with an absolute bombshell of a tweet on Feb. 2 announcing the return of college football video games. It may not seem like much, but the impact this single video game series has had on the college football community is off the charts.
For those who never stopped believing...#EASPORTSCollegeFootball pic.twitter.com/2vDUYnbXEJ— EA SPORTS (@EASPORTS) February 2, 2021
The original demise of NCAA video games began nearly a decade ago when former UCLA star basketball player Ed O’Bannon, uncle of current TCU Basketball player Chuck O’Bannon Jr., led an antitrust class-action lawsuit against the NCAA with EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) serving as co-defendants.
O’Bannon was not the sole reason NCAA Football video games were halted, but he was certainly the first domino to fall in what seemed to be a never-ending legal battle for EA Sports and the NCAA. EA was willing to cooperate, offering a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to pay athletes for using their name and likeness in the game. The NCAA on the other hand was quite stubborn. Shocker.
The NCAA not willing to work with EA in regards to players profiting whilst in school led to the gaming company dropping the popular series altogether. All hope was lost until an array of possibilities opened up in 2019 when California governor Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play act, allowing collegiate athletes in California to be compensated for the commercial usage of their identity.
Similar to how O’Bannon was the first domino that began the legal battles, California was the first domino to fall towards new and improved legislation regarding college athletes. 34 of our 50 states have now signed legislation similar to the Fair Pay to Play Act which is likely the reason EA is able to return to the collegiate scene.
The new game will look slightly different than in years past as EA is currently planning on creating the game without names, images, or likeness of the athletes. Rather than continuing the series with NCAA Football ‘21 or NCAA Football ‘22, EA is rebranding the games as “EA Sports College Football.” As unusual as this might seem, my guess is EA wants as little to do with the NCAA as possible.
It’s hard to imagine that it’s been nearly a decade since we were last able to man the head coach position at TCU and lead the Frogs to an absurd amount of national championships and heisman trophies in the Dynasty mode.
One of my first thoughts when I saw the game announced on twitter was how cool it would be to play a Road To Glory career as Max Duggan shredding through Big 12 defenses. Though the game modes for the new college football video game have not been confirmed yet, I would assume EA will put out an updated version of their most popular game modes: Road To Glory and Dynasty.
As excited as I am to see all the new and improved game modes, I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve anxiously awaiting to see how Amon G. Carter Stadium will look along with what overall ratings EA gives the Horned Frogs.
With the news of a new college football game coming out, I can’t help but feel bummed for those guys between 2014 to now who never got to see themselves as a video game character. There have been multiple TCU stars such as Jalen Reagor, Lucas Niang and Ross Blacklock that have never been featured on the game.
While I may not be qualified as a “ratings adjuster” for sports video games, I have put more hours into NCAA Football 14 than I’m willing to admit, so speculating how EA will rate our guys is right down my alley.
I’ve put together what I believe to be a somewhat accurate representation of how EA would rate TCU players if the game were to come out today. Of course I would give 99 overalls across the board if I could, but the odds of the Frogs having multiple 99 OVR players, or even one, is slim to none. Along with ratings from TCU’s 2020 roster, I’ve included ratings for a few of TCU’s standout players that never had a chance to be featured on the game. Let’s get right into it:
DISCLAIMER: THESE RATINGS DO NOT REPRESENT THE OFFICIAL EA SPORTS COLLEGE FOOTBALL GAME AND ARE PURELY SPECULATION.
2020-2021 TCU Horned Frogs Hypothetical Video Game Ratings
Max Duggan: 87 OVR
- Key Attributes: 93 Speed, 87 Ball Carrier Vision
Matthew Downing: 72 OVR
- Key attributes: 78 Strength, 77 Throw Power
If I’m playing with Max Duggan on the new NCAA video game, I’m running read option every other play until my opponent rage quits. The second the defensive end bites, Duggan is off to the races.
Zach Evans: 85 OVR
- Key attributes: 92 Acceleration, 88 Elusiveness
Darwin Barlow: 81 OVR
- Key attributes: 85 Strength, 86 Carrying
Kendre Miller: 80 OVR
- Key attributes: 84 Ball Carrier Vision, 80 Break Tackle
Emari Demercado: 78 OVR
- Key attributes: 82 Carrying, 80 Catching
Daimarqua Foster: 77 OVR
- Key attributes: 82 Elusiveness, 81 Ball Carrier Vision
TCU had an incredibly well-rounded running back committee last season, which isn’t common to see in the video game series. Typically, depth charts on the game prioritize whoever is listed as RB1 only working in the “backups” after RB1 gets fatigued. If I’m playing with TCU, I would adjust any setting necessary to work all four guys in the game at some point. Whether you want Evans, Barlow, Miller, Foster, or Demercado to carry the workload, you can’t go wrong with the Horned Frogs backfield.
Quentin Johnston: 85 OVR
- Key attributes: 90 Spectacular Catch, 92 Jumping
Taye Barber: 84 OVR
- Key attributes: 85 Catch in traffic, 84 Route Running
Derius Davis: 81 OVR
- Key attributes: 91 Speed, 97 Return
JD Spielman: 79 OVR
- Key attributes: 92 Return, 82 Elusiveness
Blair Conwright: 78 OVR
- Key attributes: 86 Agility, 80 Route Running
Savion Williams: 75 OVR
- Key attributes: 87 Speed, 92 Return
This is somewhat of a short list at the receiver position, but considering the Horned Frogs lost four guys to the transfer portal this past season, this is what remains of a once crowded WR room. I wouldn’t be surprised if Quentin Johnston’s rating were to skyrocket to a 90+ overall by the time he is a junior, he was TCU’s clear cut WR1 last season and is looking poised to put up big numbers in 2021. Derius Davis would be lethal in the slot position on NCAA video games, a slant route matched up against man defense = an easy six points for D. Davis. Taye Barber wouldn’t be the flashiest option, but he would certainly be reliable.
Pro Wells: 88 OVR
- Key attributes: 89 Break Tackle, 88 Catching
Artayvious Lynn: 80 OVR
- Key attributes: 86 Strength, 82 Impact Blocking
Carter Ware: 71 OVR
- Key attributes: 74 Carrying, 72 Route Running
Pro Wells fits his name perfectly considering he is the definition of pro-level talent. At 6’4, 250 lbs, Wells is a textbook tight end. With Artayvious Lynn lining up opposite of Wells, computerized defenses wouldn’t know what to expect.
Wes Harris: 84 OVR
- Key attributes: 87 Pass Block, 90 Strength
Steve Avila: 83 OVR
- Key attributes: 86 Impact Block, 83 Awareness
T.J. Storment: 80 OVR
- Key attributes: 88 Strength, 85 Run Block
Coy McMillon: 76 OVR
- Key attributes: 82 Pass Block, 85 Strength
Kellton Hollins: 75 OVR
- Key attributes: 87 Strength, 81 Impact Block
Blake Hickey: 75 OVR
- Key attributes: 82 Run Block, 86 Power
John Lanz: 74 OVR
- Key attributes: 80 Impact Block, 84 Power
Andrew Coker: 74 OVR
- Key attributes: 88 Power, 80 Run Block
Brandon Coleman: 72 OVR
- Key attributes: 87 Strength, 79 Run Block
The offensive line had their fair share of struggles during the 2020 season hence the relatively low ratings. One of the biggest hits to the line was when Wes Harris went down with an injury resulting in never ending position swaps trying to find the best five fit to protect Duggan. I chose not to include specific positions because the fact of the matter is that the majority of these guys are capable of playing any position on the line.
Ochaun Mathis: 89 OVR
- Key attributes: 94 Hit Power, 88 Play Recognition
Corey Bethley: 87 OVR
- Key attributes: 90 Strength, 83 Finesse Moves
Khari Coleman: 82 OVR
- Key attributes: 82 Block Shedding, 85 Tackle
Terrell Cooper: 81 OVR
- Key attributes: 84 Agility, 78 Pursuit
Earl Barquet: 80 OVR
- Key attributes: 80 Power, 82 Power Move
Parker Workman: 77 OVR
- Key attributes: 80 Play Recognition, 85 Strength
Dylan Horton: 76 OVR
- Key attributes: 81 Power Move, 79 Block Shed
Colt Ellison: 75 OVR
- Key attributes: 82 Pursuit, 78 Block Shed
Soni Misi: 74 OVR
- Key attributes: 84 Strength, 77 Awareness
George Ellis III: 74 OVR
- Key attributes: 78 Power, 77 Power Move
Patrick Jenkins: 72 OVR
- Key attributes: 75 Block Shedding, 78 Tackle
The defensive line is another solid, well-rounded unit on the Horned Frogs hypothetical video game depth chart. Ochaun Mathis was impossible for opposing O-lines to deal with, dishing out some of the hardest hits I’ve ever seen along the way. Mathis running full speed at the quarterback is compatible with a sitting duck getting rammed by a freight train. Don’t let Corey Bethley being sidelined due to a knee injury this season distract you from how good he really is. An 87 OVR might be an understatement. Khari Coleman showed a ton of potential last season and could easily become the Frogs go-to edge rusher in the next year or two. No matter who rotates in — Workman, Ellison, Ellis III, Misi --- the Horned Frogs D-line would be sack central on an NCAA video game.
Garret Wallow: 94 OVR
- Key attributes: 97 Tackle, 89 Awareness
Dee Winters: 85 OVR
- Key attributes: 89 Acceleration, 92 Hit Power
Marcel Brooks: 82 OVR
- Key attributes: 86 Speed, 81 Pursuit
Wyatt Harris: 78 OVR
- Key attributes: 81 Tackle, 81 Awareness
Dee Winters and Garret Wallow couldn’t be a better fit for Gary Patterson’s illustrious 4-2-5 defensive scheme. I don’t think I could stop myself from blitzing Winters nearly every play if he was on the video game. Even though Marcel Brooks never got a full opportunity to make some plays this past season, he is still an athletic freak of nature. Wyatt Harris is another one of those guys that could significantly improve his OVR this next season. With Ben Wilson transferring out of the program and Wallow graduating, Harris could step up in 2021.
Trevon Moehrig: 96 OVR
- Key attributes: 96 Play Recognition, 95 Zone Coverage
Ar’Darius Washington: 93 OVR
- Key attributes: 91 Awareness, 92 Jump
Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson: 87 OVR
- Key attributes: 95 Agility, 91 Man Coverage
La’Kendrick Van Zandt: 86 OVR
- Key attributes: 90 Hit Power, 87 Pursuit
Noah Daniels: 83 OVR
- Key attributes: 86 Awareness, 86 Man Coverage
Nook Bradford: 82 OVR
- Key attributes: 87 Zone Coverage, 85 Tackle
C.J. Ceasar II: 81 OVR
- Key attributes: 89 Man Coverage, 87 Press
Kee’yon Stewart: 77 OVR
- Key attributes: 84 Man Coverage, 83 Press
Josh Foster: 75 OVR
- Key attributes: 85 Tackle, 81 Zone Coverage
Where do I even begin with this secondary unit? Trevon Moehrig and Ar’Darius Washington are the two highest graded safeties (Pro Football Focus) in college football for a reason. Playing with Moehrig’s intelligence combined with his athletic ability in an NCAA video game would essentially eliminate opposing players from running deep routes. No matter where you throw the ball, by the time it reaches the receivers hands Moehrig will be in the area ready to make a play. Washington has been dealing with the height stigma his entire career, and proving people wrong has become second nature for him. I don’t care how big and tall a wide receiver is, throw the ball up one on one and Washington will make a play. Van Zandt is another one of those guys that no matter where the ball ends up, he will be there ready to make a play.
Highest-graded safeties over the last two seasons:— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 28, 2021
1. Trevon Moehrig, TCU: 91.7
2. Ar'Darius Washington, TCU: 90.8 pic.twitter.com/tyqslEfqGM
Hodges-Tomlinson made a name for himself this past season, earning first team All Big-12 and AP All-American honors. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if Hodges-Tomlinson blossomed into TCU’s next 90+ overall cornerback on NCAA Football video games, following in Jason Verrett’s steps. I could only imagine the rage an NCAA video game opponent would have throwing the ball to a 6’4 receiver only to get picked off by a 5’9 speedster with bunnies. Noah Daniels is another reliable defender in the Horned Frogs secondary, giving up only 27% completion when the ball was thrown his way before he went down with an injury.
Griffin Kell: 82 OVR
- Key attributes: 83 Kick Accuracy, 82 Kick Power
Kell went 12-17 on field goals with a long of 49 yards in 2020, but interestingly enough four of his five misses were blocked by the defense. Kell has the leg and accuracy to make just about anything within 50 yards, the only issue has been arching the ball over that front line.
Jordy Sandy: 83 OVR
- Key attributes: 87 Kick Power, 90 Awareness
Every Horned Frog fans’ favorite Australian, Jordy Sandy, has been a solid punter during his time at TCU. Sandy finished 2020 with an impressive 24 punts inside the 20-yard line and could easily pin offenses deep in their open territory if his skillset was translated into the video game.
Kick Return/Punt Return (Separate from position OVR)
Derius Davis: 97 OVR
- Key attributes: 91 Speed, 89 Juke Move
Savion Williams: 92 OVR
- Key attributes: 88 Acceleration, 86 Finesse
If I was facing a TCU squad with Derius Davis on the NCAA video game, I would avoid punting at all costs. Davis is incredibly shifty with the ball in his hands and once he gets past a defender or two, he’s off to the races. Williams is a solid kick return option as well, averaging 22.3 yards per return this past season.
Some all-time Horned Frogs that missed out on NCAA Football video games:
- 95 Overall
- Key attributes: 94 speed, 93 Elusiveness
It’s safe to say Reagor would have been every NCAA Football users go-to option when playing with the Horned Frogs. Reagor is fast as lightning, has duct tape for hands, and could juke anyone you put in front of him — what more could you ask for in a WR1? I would have loved the opportunity to play with Reagor during kick returns and punt returns, and he would have given any online opponent of mine nightmares.
- 97 Overall
- Key attributes: 99 Pass Blocking, 96 Strength
Seeing a 99 overall rating for any given stat in an NCAA Football video game is a rare sight, but if anyone deserves it, it’s Niang. During his time at TCU, Niang went a two-year span without allowing a single sack. If Niang was ever in NCAA Football games, I’d run HB Stretch to his side all day long.
Darius “Jett” Anderson
- 92 Overall
- Key attributes: 97 Acceleration, 91 Ball Carrier Vision
There is a reason Darius Anderson was coined with the nickname “Jett,” he goes from 0-60 in about half a second. I would 100% be that guy in online games that spams the same play if I had the Darius Anderson and Lucas Niang combo, it would be unstoppable.
- 90 Overall
- Key Attributes: 93 speed, 96 Return
I would be absolutely terrified to punt the ball to KaVontae Turpin whether it be in real life or a video game, the dude is shifty. Turpin lined up in the slot would be overpowered against man defense. I’d audible to quick slants anytime I saw a corner pressing him. KaVontae Turpin in an NCAA video game would be compatible to Tyreek Hill in Madden 21: a cheat code.
- 94 Overall
- Key attributes: 94 Strength, 93 Block Shedding
Blacklock dominated opposing offensive lines during his time at TCU, and the same would happen in the video game. If you were to time the right joystick perfectly with the quarterback snapping the ball, it’s a sack all day long with Blacklock. If I were to compare Blacklock to anyone on Madden, it’s got to be Aaron Donald.
- 95 Overall
- Key attributes: 97 Tackling, 94 Play Recognition
Howard is the all-time solo tackle leader in the Gary Patterson at TCU, hence the 97 rating. I couldn’t name a single college football player from the last decade I would bet on to break a Travin Howard tackle, he’s Mr. Fundamental when it comes to wrapping up. On top of that, Howard’s decision making was off the charts and seemed to time his blitzes perfectly nearly every time.
- 94 Overall
- Key attributes: 96 Man Coverage, 94 Play Recognition
Former Horned Frog and now first rounder to the Minnesota Vikings Jeff Gladney had his own island during his time at TCU. If his game was translated into the NCAA video game, no chance a receiver catches a one-on-one ball on Gladney Island. I dare someone to run four verticals with Jeff Gladney in coverage, that’s an interception nine times out of ten.
- 95 Overall
- Key attributes: 94 Block Shedding, 96 Pursuit
The reason I decided to include pursuit as one of Banogu’s hypothetical key attributes is simple: no matter what you do or who you put in front of him, he’s going to get to the quarterback. Banogu’s efficiency during his time at TCU is absurd — 106 tackles, 34.5 TFL, and 17 sacks in only two seasons. Playing with Banogu in an NCAA video game would be similar to Ross Blacklock; if you time the right joystick perfectly, it’s an automatic sack for the Horned Frogs.
Do you have thoughts on the ratings or on guys we might have missed? Drop them in the comments!