Ten Camp Surprises

The Frogs have gone through four weeks of fall camp and so far there have been plenty of pleasant surprises. HornedFrogBlitz.com takes a look at some of the top surprises thus far.

It's been four weeks since the beginning of fall camp for the Horned Frogs and through those weeks of practice have emerged several surprises. Although practices aren't open every day, there has been some access made available to the media and through that and interviews with head coach Gary Patterson, HFB.com has compiled a short list of pleasant camp surprises.

1. Dawson emerging as a linebacker.

Dawson has received high praise from Patterson this fall
There's no question that the linebacker corp took a big hit in the off-season with the losses of Tanner Brock and Derck Gildon. Things only got worse depth wise early in fall camp with injuries to Joe Hasley and Danny Heiss, both of whom are expected to be major contributors this fall. Hasley returned to practice last week while Heiss continues to be brought along slowly. In the meantime Paul Dawson, who arrived in the summer, has been working with the first team defense. Not bad for a guy who played wide receiver in high school. Dawson is now a solid 6-foot-2, 225-pounds and has drawn praise from Patterson throughout camp. It's crucial for him to succeed at the position if the Frogs are going to have any semblance of an improved defense.

2. A freshman starter at SS?

It could happen with Derrick Kindred. If the freshman from San Antonio does indeed beat out Sam Carter for the starting position at strong safety, it would be the first time in Patterson's tenure that he's started a true freshman at the position. Kindred came to TCU as probably the least discussed signee but in true Patterson and staff fashion, they found themselves another hidden gem. Kindred has good size at 6-foot, 202-pounds with speed to boot. While Jordan Moore and Zach Jackson were more talked about coming to TCU, it appears that Kindred will get the last word.

3. Pierson appears ready to shine.

Davion Pierson redshirted in 2011 and while he spent time on the sideline his fellow class of 2012 signees Jon Lewis and Chuck Hunter were making strides as true freshmen along the Frogs' defensive line. While Lewis and Hunter have the experience, it appears Pierson is making the biggest splash of all this fall. Through the open practices Patterson has allowed, each time Pierson was running with the first team at defensive tackle. He's shown great pursuit and he's a very strong player. For him to come in and not only compete but lead the way on the Frogs defensive interior is a really big surprise thus far.

4. Bush another weapon in the slot.

David Bush redshirted in 2011 and he's shown in fall camp that he's ready to emerge as a weapon from the slot behind senior Skye Dawson. Bush has proven time after time that he's not afraid to go over the middle for a big catch and each time he's given the opportunity to catch the ball, he comes through. Patterson has also praised Bush after a few practices.

5. The man-child Terrell Lathan

To be completely honest, there's probably not a more put together player from the Frogs' 2012 class than Lathan. Lathan goes a legit 6-foot-5, 270-pounds and has quickness to boot. Lathan played defensive end in high school and has made the transition to the interior and with his size and speed; he gives the Frogs much needed depth on the defensive line. While he wasn't as highly recruited as Devonte Fields and high school teammate James McFarland, he's made a big splash so far. Patterson has stated on more than one occasion on his desire to have a 10-11 man rotation on the defensive line to keep fresh legs in at all times. Now that the Frogs will face high powered offenses in the Big 12, Lathan's emergence certainly allows the Frogs the opportunity to have a great rotation.

6. Two freshmen vying for one spot.

True freshman Aviante Collins is vying for the starting spot at RT
In what has become a common theme, the freshmen are creating a stir throughout the two-deep roster for the Frogs. No matter where you look, there sits a 2012 signee ready to make a dent. That's especially true at right tackle where not one but two freshmen, Aviante Collins and Halapoulivatti Vaitai, are competing for the starting position. It's a battle that is making both better. Both possess towering size and good feet and sometimes you forget that they're just freshmen. For both of them to get first and second team reps as true freshmen is saying something. Offensive line coach Eddie Williamson is regarded as one of the top offensive line coaches in the nation and for him to have two freshmen likely to start, they've been really impressive.

7. Matt Brown switches to WR

In what was expected by HFB.com and several fans, Trevone Boykin earned the nod as Casey Pachall's backup last week. While that's not a big surprise to many, Brown moving to receiver is. Last week Patterson told the media that Brown had started to run some reps at wide receiver but we didn't realize that move was permanent until last Thursday. Brown no longer wears the "protective" red jersey designated for the safety of the quarterbacks; he's now wearing a purple jersey. Brown looked good running at the slot behind Brandon Carter on Thursday and caught a couple of passes during full team drills.

8. Hunt makes the switch to offensive line

Joey Hunt came to TCU as a defensive tackle. After a few days of practice he was quickly shifted over to the offensive side of the ball to add depth to the offensive line. It appears the move has paid off for Hunt if he had a desire to play as a true freshman. Since his move over to the offensive side, Hunt has received most of the reps behind senior James Fry at center. Although he's certainly had his struggles a few practices, Hunt shouldn't have much difficulty with the transition as he was an all-district performer on the offensive line for three years at El Campo.

9. Deante' Gray helping out the corner depth

Just as Dawson added depth to the linebacker corp, Gray has done the same for the Frogs at corner. It almost didn't happen as he switched to TCU from Stanford just days before signing day. Now, like several other members from the 2012 class, he has a chance to play as a true freshman. Gray displays excellent speed and according to Patterson, he "covers receivers well". Gray is slotted on the two-deep for now backing up Jason Verrett.

10. Just how many freshmen will play?

We've discussed the 2012 class ad nauseum but when you hear of the impact they're making every time you talk with the coach, you take notice. We all expected the class to be one of if not the best classes in the Patterson era. Then we began to hear of summer workouts and the work ethic, the athleticism, the "Frog Factor". These guys have gone out and proven that what we all heard over the summer wasn't just a big buildup. Now, the season hasn't started and that's when this all counts, but for them to catch Patterson's eyes and be in the two deep at virtually every position is saying something. Patterson said this will be his youngest team he's coached in his fifteen years at TCU. He's not lying.

Jeremy Clark has covered TCU football and recruiting since 2005. He spent seven years with another recruiting service before joining the FoxSports/Scout.com family in February 2012. He has made appearances on FoxSports Southwest and the NFL Network and radio stations nationwide in his nearly eight years of covering the Frogs.
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