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2021 TCU Football Preview: Linebackers

The Horned Frogs will look for their next leader in the middle after losing Garret Wallow to the NFL Draft.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 07 Texas Tech at TCU Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Garret Wallow anchored the middle of the TCU Horned Frog defense over the last three seasons, compiling 287 total tackles, 32.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, five passes defended, three forced fumbles and one interception during that span. But with Wallow now ready to suit up on Sundays for the Houston Texans after being drafted in the fifth round, TCU head coach Gary Patterson will look for his next leader to step up at the linebacker position.

Patterson may not have to look to far, however, as the Horned Frogs will return one of their two starting linebacker in junior Dee Winters. Winters made an immediate impact with TCU in 2019, recording 28 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks as a freshman. Winters elevated his game in 2020, totaling 65 tackles and 9.5 tackles for loss with two sacks, two passes defended and a fumble recovery.

Now an upperclassman, Winters has both the experience and the skills to command the middle of the Horned Frog defense. But who will flank him and replace Wallow as the team’s second starting linebacker? Although TCU lost linebacker Ben Wilson to the transfer portal, the team will return junior Wyatt Harris, younger brother of Horned Frog offensive lineman Wes Harris, who started six games in 2019 and appeared in nine games last season.

TCU will also return sophomore Jamoi Hodge, a former three-star prospect and JUCO standout who missed most of the 2020 season with an injury. Sophomores Thomas Armstrong and Zach Marcheselli have earned praise for their play during the spring. The Horned Frogs will also welcome two promising recruits in four-star transfer Shadrach Banks and three-star recruit Jayhvion Gipson.

The 4-2-5 defense places greater emphasis on the two linebackers to make tackles and stop the run, two things Wallow and Winters excelled at as the Horned Frog starters this past season. As the camp battles continue and the 2021 season approaches, TCU will feature a few veterans and multiple young players with the potential to move up the depth chart fast.