With TCU moving away from its traditional 4-2-5 defense and shifting to a 3-3-5 defense under new defensive coordinator Joseph Gillespie, depth at the linebacker position will be much more important when the Horned Frogs take the field this fall. Fortunately, TCU has several veterans and underclassmen returning along with a handful of new faces.
Spring Practice Recap: @joe_gillespi3— TCU Football (@TCUFootball) June 30, 2022
Coach Gillespie felt good about what he saw in the Spring. #GoFrogs #DFWBig12Team pic.twitter.com/ieg4TFeQNd
Leading the way will be senior Dee Winters, who led the Horned Frogs with 74 tackles during the 2021 season and has appeared in 33 games over the last three seasons. Winters has been a playmaker for the TCU defense, recording 19 tackles for loss and five sacks in his career as well as seven passes defensed, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.
Lined up at WILL, TCU’s Dee Winters read his keys, shoots the backside gap, and makes the TFL. The fourth-year LB—who has 167 tackles and 19 TFLs in his career—is one of the best defensive prospects in the Big 12 for the 2023 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/OFZSIcgkEm— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) August 20, 2022
Navy transfer Johnny Hodges has reportedly had a strong camp and could be in line for a starting linebacker role this season. The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder recorded 50 total tackles in nine games while adding four passes defensed, one interception, one sack and one forced fumble during the 2021 season. Originally recruited to Navy as a lacrosse player, Hodges arrives in Fort Worth as a junior and has the necessary experience to start from day one.
Johnny Hodges has taken an interesting path to working with TCU’s first-team defense. https://t.co/hAzM9dlQ4v— Fort Worth Star-Telegram (@startelegram) April 8, 2022
TCU will start the season without LSU transfer and former five-star prospect Marcel Brooks, who lined up at wide receiver for the Horned Frogs during the 2021 season but switched back to linebacker after new head coach Sonny Dykes took over the program. Brooks suffered a rib injury during camp, but he should be able to return sometime this season.
#TCU has had some pleasant surprises this spring, among the most has been the play of Marcel Brooks. Brooks is definitely making the most of his opportunity. https://t.co/jYTUphBpj8— Jeremy Clark (@JClarkHFB247) April 13, 2022
Junior Jamoi Hodge and senior Wyatt Harris are two experienced players who could step up in Brooks’ absence. Hodge started TCU’s final seven games during the 2021 season and finished the season with 60 total tackles, third-most on the team, with 3.5 tackles for loss and one sack. Harris totaled 27 tackles with two passes defensed and an interception.
Flipping into Victory Sunday like @ShadrachBanks #GoFrogs pic.twitter.com/mjVBpKTBqY— TCU Football (@TCUFootball) November 7, 2021
Additional upperclassmen back in the fold include juniors Thomas Armstrong and Zach Marcheselli. TCU added redshirt freshman Terrance Cooks Jr. through the transfer portal, while sophomore and former four-star prospect Shadrach Banks will look to build on a freshman campaign where he snagged the game-winning interception against Baylor.