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2022 TCU Football Preview: Safeties

Colorado transfer Mark Perry will have a shot to beat his former team when the season kicks off on Sept. 2.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 30 TCU at Kansas State Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The TCU secondary struggled with injuries last season, particularly at the safety position, where All-Big 12 corner Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson was forced to slide over at times due to a lack of depth at the position. While TCU returns a talented and experienced group of corners for the 2022 season, competition for the starting safety positions is expected to be far more open, with a number of new and returning players figuring to be in the mix as the Horned Frogs look to replace former starters La’Kendrick Van Zandt and T.J. Carter.

While new head coach Sonny Dykes brought in a handful of new assistant coaches, Dykes retained safeties coach Paul Gonzales, who has been with TCU since 2012 and has a strong reputation with both players and recruits. Gonzales will be tasked with leading a safety room that has produced multiple NFL talents including Tre’von Moehrig, Ar’Darius Washington, Innis Gaines, Vernon Scott and Derrick Kindred in recent seasons.

One addition who figures to be in the starting mix is Colorado transfer Mark Perry, who opted to continue his career in Fort Worth after three seasons with the Buffaloes. Perry totaled 72 tackles and four passes defensed while leading Colorado with three interceptions during the 2021 season. A former four-star prospect, Perry appeared in 26 games at Colorado and has already assumed a leadership role during camp with the Horned Frogs.

New defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie’s 3-3-5 base defense means TCU will continue to feature three safeties in the secondary like it did under former head coach Gary Patterson. While Perry seemingly leads the competition for strong safety, redshirt sophomore and former four-star recuit Bud Clark could once again assume the starting free safety role. Clark started four games at free safety in 2021 before suffering a season-ending injury. Clark appeared in all 10 games during the 2020 season and has 13 career total tackles.

Senior Nook Bradford could be a candidate for the starting weak safety position. The former No. 1 prep school player in the country recorded his first career interception and sack along with three passes defensed during the 2021 campaign. With 119 total tackles and 13 tackles for loss over 33 games, Bradford has the experience necessary to produce right away.

TCU added JUCO transfer Namdi Obiazor over the offseason and scored a huge commitment from four-star recruit Chace Biddle, who begins his freshman season this fall. Obiazor earned 2021 NJCAA First Team All-American honors at Iowa Western Community College, where former Horned Frog offensive lineman Anthony McKinney once played.

Sophomore and former four-star prospect D’Arco Perkins-McAllister returns for his second season in Fort Worth, while veteran safeties Josh Foster, Deshawn McCuin and former JUCO transfer Abraham Camara will be in the mix this season. Foster appeared in all 12 games with two starts in 2021, totaling 37 of his 58 tackles for his four-year TCU career.