HFB Mailbag: Part 1

In this edition of the HFB mailbag we dive into several subjects from recruiting to spring position battles.

How many visitors are we expecting during the next few weeks. Any big surprises?

The staff will have three weekends to host official visitors starting on January 17th. I'd imagine out of every weekend you will probably see 3-4 uncommitted players there with prospects already committed. Any surprises, well, if Terrell Cuney shows up for a visit that could be considered a surprise. But, there are at least two names I'm keeping a close eye on to see if they visit.

Can you give us a brief summary of the guys we are chasing to close out this class and how the staff feels about their chances?

At 13 commitments, I feel the class will finish around 20-21. They won't reach on a kid, but there are still some talented prospects they are in the hunt for. The big targets are along the offensive line with five-star Braden Smith still giving TCU a hard look and the staff feels very good about their chances. Pearland offensive lineman Ryan Griswold is another lineman the Frogs have to feel very good with their chances of landing. Of course, they would save a spot for a guy like Connor Mayes or Terrell Cuney if one of them decides to sway away from their current commitment.

The staff would also like to add another receiver and the main guys drawing the most interest are Emmanuel Porter, Caleb Scott and James Washington. Porter has already visited and been in communication with TCU for a long time. Scott is a new recruit for the Frogs; Sonnie Cumbie recruited the receiver while he was at Texas Tech and will visit January 17th. Washington, a current Oklahoma State commit, could still visit. Washington got in the picture thanks to Doug Meacham.

On the defensive side, the Frogs are looking to add at least one more defensive back; likely at safety. One safety who is currently committed to another program will visit the Frogs later this month.

Out of the three quarterbacks on campus at this time, who is the front runner for the position?

Well, if you're just looking at experience, you have to go with Trevone Boykin. However, with a new offense all three quarterbacks have to be on equal footing. While Boykin has the experience, Tyler Matthews has added good arm strength since his time on campus and is a more accurate passer than Boykin. Zach Allen isn't quite the passer as Boykin and Matthews, but he is the quickest. In fact, he's the best at zone reads from people I've talked with inside the program. I can't name a starter by the end of the spring, but I'm one of those who have the opinion that the quarterback job won't be decided until the talented duo of Foster Sawyer and Grayson Muehlstein get on campus. Doug Meacham isn't afraid of playing youth after playing a true freshman at quarterback for Houston last season.

Why do you think we have not seen or heard of the staff going after any other DTs since Zaycoven decommitted? We lose Chucky and Jon Lewis next year. It looks pretty thin and is very concerning.

To be honest, there isn't a ton of talented defensive tackle prospects this recruiting class. The staff pointed out Zaycoven early on while the Texas staff was still trying to figure out who he was. Unfortunately, it's just not a great class at the position. But, defensive tackle isn't exactly a huge position of need for the Frogs for this class but 2015 will be. I think it's smart for the Frogs to not reach on a kid at the position just to fill a spot; it will look better next year for them to land a good prospect at the position.

Do you think we finish off this signing class with a big bang? I mean multiple surprised, big bang?

Well, if Braden Smith commits that could be a huge bang. He would be the first 5-star prospect to sign with TCU in the Gary Patterson era. Of course, the Frogs are still in the hunt for guys committed elsewhere and that's always good to get a switch late in the process. There was a very highly recruited prospect who visited TCU two times in December and when I say highly rated, I'm talking top ten at his respected position. Could he still be in play? We'll have to see!

Who is your pick to be the starting QB at the conclusion of spring practice?

Tyler Matthews.

What are the things you are observing or hearing about our staff as they recruit on a different cycle with no bowl game? GP basically said he's been a lot more aggressive and going to make a difference during this period. The ice out really hurt, but what are your observations?

To me it was a big deal because Gary Patterson was out doing more in-homes with junior college prospects and kids that were early enrollees. Maybe I'm just remembering right, but it appeared he was more on the trail than ever before in December. The staff has also been very aggressive in recruiting 2015 and even 2016 prospects which seems different from years past. When Gary Patterson said he was going to be more aggressive in recruiting, he wasn't lying. The Frogs added four commitments in December and had a fifth before Jared Cornelius flipped back to Arkansas.

With the additions of Cumbie and Meachum to the staff, who have the Frogs started to target that they weren't recruiting heavily prior?

I mentioned these guys a few answers ago but offensive lineman Ryan Griswold and receivers Caleb Scott and James Washington are the main one's I've seen. Griswold was offered by Meacham when he was at Houston, as was Washington. Scott was a player that impressed Texas Tech last summer at a camp and fortunately for TCU, Cumbie remembered how well Scott performed at the camp. Scott would go on to break his schools single-season receiving record in 2013 and could be a big time steal.

With the turmoil and coaching rumors in Austin and in Waco, are UT and Baylor recruits wavering and are the Frogs taking advantage of this?

That's what recruiting is all about! There are a few names on both of commitment lists for the Longhorns and Bears that the Frogs are still actively recruiting. The biggest name is Terrell Cuney, who reached out to the Frogs after the announcement that Mack Brown would resign at Texas. Could Cuney visit; it's not completely out of the realm of possibilities from what I've been told.

Scholarship numbers for the 2014 class are expected to rise from 13 to 20-21. Can you provide an updated position breakdown of what TCU is wanting/expecting to fill those slots with? (i.e. Oline 5, Dline 3, LB 2, etc.)

This biggest need in this class starts up front; the Frogs need offensive linemen and with three commitments already in the fold, they could add 3-4 more if the right players come along. Here's a breakdown of how I think it plays out.

QB – 2

HB – 0

FB – 0

WR – 4

TE – 0

OL – 5-6

DL – 3

LB – 2

CB – 2

S – 3

Total: 21

How much improved do you feel our oline will be in 2014 given another year of maturity and the coaching changes? Who do you see starting on the Oline at this point?

Well with another year under their belt you would hope to see some improvements. It's hard to believe that Aviante Collins and Halapoulivaati Vaitai are already going to be juniors and you have to look at those two as potential starters in 2014. But, you also have players like Matt Pryor, Joseph Noteboom and Eason Fromayan that could make an impact and compete for starting time. If anything, they add significant depth to the position. I think the biggest questions will come along the interior of the line; who will start at guard and center? I feel a guy like Frank Kee will come in and nab a starting job at one of the guards right away and you hope to have guys like Brady Foltz and Lloyd Tunstill provide quality depth; which I feel they can.

Center could be an interesting position to watch with Joey Hunt and Patrick Morris; Hunt had his struggles last season and Morris was a true freshman but he did show a mean streak when he played.

The player I'm most interested in seeing his progression is Bobby Thompson. I think I can speak for everyone in saying he looked impressive in his time against Baylor in the season finale. Thompson has battled shoulder injuries, but if he's 100% healthy, he will give the Frogs a big boost up front. Plus, I want to see the Frogs with another 6-foot-6, 300-pounder up front!

Without naming names, how many kids currently committed to other programs are strongly considering the Frogs?

At this point, I would say at least four to five players. I won't be too selfish either; four of those players are offensive guys.

Who starts at FS next year? Any chance they move Hackett to FS?

Chris Hackett or Derrick Kindred in my opinion. Hackett actually played free safety as a true freshman so he's not completely new to the position. Kindred has received plenty of reps at the position too. In the end, it comes down to whoever doesn't get caught out of place and can get the calls out in time. With the Frogs signing Kenny Iloka, I definitely see Hackett making the move to free safety.

How many additional verbal commits from a 4-star or higher will we get, o/u 1.5?

Hmmm, excellent use of the over under because I'm right at that number. I believe the Frogs get Braden Smith in the end and I think they have enough recruiting momentum to pull in at least one more.

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