On paper, it looks like LSU transfer John Diarse is going to be a fantastic pickup for the TCU Horned Frogs as he'll bring intelligence, downfield blocking and the ability to gain yards after the catch.
From seeing the Neville High School (Monroe, La.) product live and in person on the field twice in Texas, he's as good as advertised. LSU played in Houston's NRG Stadium twice in the past two years (the 2014 opener against Wisconsin and the 2015 Texas Bowl against Texas Tech), and funny enough, Diarse had his best games of his Tigers career in that stadium.
It's likely little wonder that he wanted to get to the Lone Star State again, given his ability to play so well in Texas. Just six days after announcing that he was transferring from LSU, Diarse made it official by signing on to TCU's next class.
As a former four-star prospect, he joins Aaron Green, Aundre Dean and JuJuan Story as some of the highest-lauded transfers in recent TCU history.
Diarse comes with a special caveat though. Given his intelligence and early enrollment at LSU, Diarse is eligible for play immediately, as he's a grad transfer, despite just finishing his redshirt sophomore season. After getting his undergrad degree at LSU in less than three years, he'll be working on his master's at TCU while playing football for Gary Patterson.
What Diarse will do scheme-wise with the Frogs isn't explicitly stated out, but given his past history, he'll likely be a third-and-long option that can get big yardage after a catch, and/or will be a prime blocker for TCU's next stable of running backs.
Diarse was primarily a perimeter blocker for the LSU Tigers, traditionally playing out of the slot. However, he became a starter for LSU's final three games and saw a lot of work as the Tigers' No. 3 receiver option.
In two seasons at LSU (he took a redshirt after getting injured during his first year on campus), Diarse caught eight passes for 412 yards and three touchdowns over his time at Baton Rouge. He delivered a great performance in his final game for LSU, catching four passes for 45 yards in the Texas Bowl.
Chief among those passes was a 30-yard gain on third-and-8. After getting the ball just past the chains, Diarse moved his way 20 yards further down the field to put LSU into great territory.
He also had highlight reels from his 2014 Music City Bowl appearance against Notre Dame, hauling in a 75-yard pass for a touchdown, and a great showing against Wisconsin, igniting the Tigers offense on third-and-21 with an amazing catch-and-run.
He's also a fantastic blocker. Look at how he moves to set up a screen pass to allow Leonard Fournette to score on a 44-yard play. Check out how far downfield Diarse gets to clear up space: he's wearing No. 9, and he's at the top of the screen.
He's also a great receiver in critical situations. In 2014, the first year that Diarse saw playing time, 11 of his 15 receptions either gave LSU a first down or put points on the scoreboard.
Not bad for a kid who played quarterback in high school.
It's worth noting that Diarse certainly has some strong connection to the TCU football program. That high school, Neville, sounds familiar because it's the preps school where breakout star KaVontae Turpin went to in his earlier days. In fact, in 2012, the young Turpin caught his first-ever varsity touchdown pass while playing Neville's hated rival, Ruston.
The guy who threw that pass to Turpin? Yep, that was Diarse.
Standing at roughly six feet and 210 pounds, Diarse has been a force of nature in the slot, which should excite TCU fans. There are few critical marks against Diarse, and very few things that can't be ironed out under a good inside receivers coach like Doug Meacham.
One of those things to fix will be route-running, as Diarse is still apparently working on the finer points of playing receiver as opposed to quarterback. It's nothing significant by any means, but there have been times to show that Diarse could use a little better footwork to make a move on a defender as opposed to trying to mash him away in the open field.
Another criticism - which is also mild - is that Diarse seems to be easily excitable when he knows a play is going to break open. A good example of this is when he blocked for a Travin Dural sweep play. Dural had open space in front of him, and likely would have scored on the 89-yard by himself, but once Diarse was downfield and saw the play could break open, he committed a foolish penalty by refusing to let go of the Mississippi State defender.
Diarse is an excellent player who is used to seeing big plays and being part of big plays. Under some good coaching, he'll simmer down and continue to contribute to big plays without committing emotional penalties like this one.
Overall, Diarse is a very solid receiver and should be a great pickup for the Frogs. With a little bit of coaching from some of the best offensive minds in college football, there's reason to believe that Diarse will contribute to TCU's receiving corps immediately.