How is Ladarius Brown looking this year and what are some expectations for him?
From the limited time I saw Brown in the spring; I think he's a serious candidate for the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. Opposing teams will focus on stopping Boyce and Carter which means Brown has the chance to shine. Patterson went on record that most of his corners couldn't cover Brown during the spring and he was one of the most talked about players. At 6-foot-4, 220-pounds with 4.4 speed, I'm excited to see what he'll do with Pachall throwing him the ball.
If you had to guess, who are our final 6-7 commits?
Tough question, best I can do is giving the players who have constantly mentioned TCU to me or others. For starters, I think Dac Shaw will be a Frog, he's had TCU on top for a while and once he visits, I think he'll pull the trigger. I also have a good feeling about Cameron Echols-Luper, call me crazy but I honestly think TCU is the place for him.
Any signing day surprises you think we might see?
I'd keep an eye out on guys like Kyle Hicks and K.J. Smith. Hicks was close to committing to TCU earlier this spring before deciding on Texas. TCU is still showing him strong interest and he has a good friend already on the team; Devonte Fields. Smith is another player who committed to Baylor early on and with Texada now in the fold, he'll be hearing quite a bit about TCU. If Smith called tomorrow, I have a strong belief that TCU would take him.
Should we be scared about losing any recruits?
Well, that depends. Losing usually breeds uncertainty but I think all of the current commitments will stay strong. All of them are need positions and for players who want to see the field early, TCU is the perfect fit for them.
This has kind of been answered, but what do you think are the chances we land Billings? He just visited Texas for an unofficial and did not commit.
I've always felt great about TCU landing Billings since they were the first major program to offer him. He and his dad have visited the campus at least three times this year; I believe that's more than any other campus. According to his dad, Billings wants to play on the defensive side of the ball and that's big considering Texas wants him on offense.
Not sure what year they would count, but they would definitely be on scholarship and count toward the total number of 85. Jenkins hasn't made it to campus yet however.
If not Fortt, have you heard about any late additions (ala Femi Awe last year) that might be showing up on 8/6?
Only name I would expect to see is former LSU corner David Jenkins. They had hoped that he would make it in for the second summer session but now the hope is he makes it in by the start of two-a-days.
Based on quotes from the veterans and talk about the incoming freshman, this team seems better mentally than a year ago. What's your take?
I've honestly never heard as much praise for any of the incoming classes like I have for the 2012 class. From seeing them up close, I'm excited to see what these guys can do myself. If Patterson's quotes last week about playing up to ten true freshmen, I'd say that's a good indication of how good this class is. When we spoke with Stansly Maponga last week, you could get the sense that the chip is on already on the players' shoulders because they once again have something to prove; winning in the Big 12.
I believe our season could hinge on our freshmen punter and kicker, do we have a read on their progress, fundamentals, or staff assessment of where they are and how they're doing?
Unfortunately we probably won't know that until after the first couple of weeks of fall camp and get the grilling evaluations from Coach Patterson. But, I'm excited to see how they respond with so much on their shoulders their first year on campus.
Who do you think starts game 1 opposite of Stansly and as far as you know is Anderson 100%?
Give me Ross Forrest. He's the most seasoned of the defensive ends. We haven't heard on the status of Anderson just yet, but if he's not healthy, look out for Devonte Fields.
Would love to get you take on the overall status of our team and what your realistic expectations are for the 2012 season. How do you see our offense and defense fairing in the new league? Do you see our D meshing, in your opinion are we weak or just thin at LB and CB and do you thing that with an improved D-line and secondary overall (more talking about safeties) that the sum of our overall talent on D will overshadow and weaknesses we may have a 1 or 2 positions?
I did a big breakdown earlier this season on my season predictions, but it's a little premature for me to predict how a season will go before I've seen one game. But, judging how the offense and defense isn't that tough. Offensively, TCU has as much talent as I've ever seen them. No matter what position you're looking at, TCU is loaded, especially at the skill positions. I think the offense will fair very well in their first season in the Big 12, I can see them equaling as many points as they did in 2011. Put it this way, if they can score 36 points on the road at Boise and 48 in Waco, they can certainly do it on a week to week basis.
Defensively, well, there are so many questions; will the pass rush be better, how will the linebackers respond, what about the corners and safeties. I think it starts up front on the defensive line. While the secondary takes much of the blame for a horrid pass defense in 2011, much of that can be attributed to the lack of a pass rush. It's not the fact that the sacks were low; the lack of quarterback hurries was more alarming. In a 4-2-5 defense, pressure on the quarterback is a must and it wasn't there. Why? Three freshman inside could be a factor, not to mention TCU was playing without two solid rush speed rush ends on the year. Look back at past history when they've had good speed guys at both the strong and weak spots, they've been successful. But, the silver lining is all of these players are a year older and more importantly, bigger and stronger.
At linebacker, obviously that's the position that worries me and I'm sure the entire TCU fan base. With Kenny Cain as the only true experienced player, someone has got to step up. If you listen to Patterson, he's very high on both Heiss and Hasley. The biggest reason being their speed and their awareness. I can't honestly give an evaluation on both, but I can say if the head coach is talking them up, they must be doing something right.
In the secondary, everyone knows the Big 12 loves to air it out but I can honestly say that I don't think there will be as many throws over the head as we saw in 2011. First, the safeties are more athletic, even ex-players tell me that. I haven't seen a more athletic group of safeties in the time I've covered the team. I joke sometimes that they should just put Jordan Moore in the middle of the field every time and cover both sides of the field when a deep pass is thrown. Jason Verrett had his struggles last year but he also had some good moments and proved to be the best defensive back in the secondary by years end. Kevin White will be asked to do a lot this year at the boundary, he's not your prototypical boundary corner in regards to size, but he can cover well. While they won't be big at corner, the size at safety should compensate.
In regards to one unit overshadowing another, defensively if one unit is bad, all units tend to be bad which we all saw last year.
To sum it up, I feel the TCU fans should prepare themselves for the 40-35 type games rather than the low scoring games we've seen in the past. I feel the defense could be another year away from returning to the "Patterson" type defense.
Should we expect McFarland to line up at LB or DE?
First day of camp I believe he will line up at defensive end.
Which of the question marks in the defense do you feel recent recruiting has helped more? Such as linebackers with Dawson/Hillard or the new safeties/corners?
Right now it's yet to be seen. If we're just talking about depth, obviously you go with linebacker because they added two players in Dawson and Hilliard. I saw both of them in the off-season running around and both are athletic linebackers. Notice I didn't say "big" but they aren't lacking in size, both go about 225 pounds and are close to 6-foot-2 and can run.
For the defensive backs, I try not to lump safeties and corners together so let me hit first where I don't think recent recruiting WILL make an impact and that's at corner. The Frogs only signed Keivon Gamble in 2012 and the other two who could play there are Deante' Gray and Derrick Kindred. Gray has experience at the position, however Kindred played mostly safety. Speaking of safety, I think landing Zach Jackson and Jordan Moore were huge not only for adding depth, you may have found two guys that can make a serious contribution as true freshmen. The best part is TCU yanked them out of SEC country.
Other than Justin Manning, which of the top flight recruits do you think TCU stands the best chance to pick up?
Andrew Billings or Cameron Echols-Luper. Both have TCU very high on their lists and have visited the school multiple times. I expect to see a jump for both in the next ratings release, Luper especially at receiver.
What positions will TCU fill with the remaining 5 or so spots?
I think before it's all said and done, this class will end around 20. That's what I've been told anyway, it's not a pure guess on my part. With 13 commitments, I think they will look to add at least two linebackers, a defensive tackle, receiver, offensive lineman, runningback and possibly a quarterback.
Which true freshmen are you excited about the most for this year?
Zach Jackson intrigues me because when I saw him running around at the last camp, he was probably the most put together of the freshmen. Plus, when the big man is talking good about him; that catches your attention. I think we see him at free safety to start camp and if he learns the position well enough, we'll see him play early. Another player I want to see and I think all of us do is A.J. Hilliard. He plays a huge position of need and with his athleticism, I'm anxious to see how he develops as a true freshman.
Which top 2014 recruits do you think TCU covets the most?
Well, they already have quite a few offers out. If the position is any indication, I think they definitely have their sights set on landing big time offensive linemen. They've already offered Braden Smith, Demetrius Knox and Cameron Robinson; those three have offers from around the country. Smith's sister throws the shot put on the track team so there is a little familiarity with TCU and Knox is right down the road at All Saints. Jamal Adams is obviously another guy who impressed the heck out of the coaching staff when he attended the June 8 camp. He virtually had an offer as soon as he did his first back pedal. K.D. Cannon, who visited campus on Wednesday, is the top receiver on their board after a very impressive performance at the Kilgore camp earlier this summer.
If early offers are any indication on players TCU covets, look at Kansas native Peyton Newell. Come to think of it, two Kansas prospects were the first two players from the 2014 class to receive offers from the Frogs. Tony Brown was another recipient of an early offer and has offers pouring in nationwide. Of the players who haven't received offers, I'd say Foster Sawyer, Jerrod Heard and Grayson Muehlstein will be the three quarterbacks to watch early on. At runningback, Shaun Nixon has impressed the coaching staff.