National Signing Day came and went with the normal clichés and phrases TCU fans come to expect with Gary Patterson.
But for once, a favorite cliché was wrong.
Patterson hit every tile on the Patterson NSD signing day bingo board, especially one of his favorite lines - stars don’t matter.
“Jerry Hughes was a two-star,” Patterson said with a grin. “And he just signed for $26 million.”
Sure, Patterson certainly has merit to his claim, given everything he’s gone through at TCU. His franchise quarterbacks - Andy Dalton and Trevone Boykin - were offered by just TCU and UTEP. The team he coached to win the Rose Bowl didn’t even crack the top 60 on the recruiting charts. Hell, the greatest receiver in school history was a three-star kid whose best offer was Wyoming.
Certainly, all of this is true. Patterson knows better than anyone else on how to develop talent, and even with minimal stars, he can turn players into juggernauts, no matter the amount of their stars.
But this year - this is different. For this class, for this fresh batch of recruits, you bet stars absolutely count.
At No. 16, TCU closes as the highest recruiting rank in its history. It’s No. 2 in the Big 12 this recruiting season, right after Texas’ last-second barnstorming, and it’s a record amount of 4-star recruits in the program’s history.
With 10 recognized elite 4-star recruits, and 13 talented recruits ready to get developed under Patterson, the Frogs have an unprecedented amount of talent in front of them. In addition to the four-star talents coming out of high school TCU put together, Patterson hauled in a wealth of JUCO talents, including the No. 1 and No. 2 JUCO receivers, the No. 1 JUCO defensive end and the No. 1 JUCO linebacker in the 2016 class.
The stars add up when a school brings in that much talent, and every single one of those stars count. The amount of raw talent walking into the Frogs’ program is unprecedented, and even when Patterson has the history to say that stars don’t matter when it comes to development, he now has the stars and the capability to develop the best athletes TCU has ever seen.
Think about what that will mean for Horned Frogs football down the road for a moment: In addition to the 30+ freshmen who played in TCU’s 11-win campaign last year, the best is yet to come for TCU. With tons of talent returning, including new standouts like Ty Summers, Travin Howard and KaVontae Turpin, the limit is literally endless for TCU thanks to this star-filled class.
If Patterson could get 11 wins last with the rag-tag team of literally every next man up, what can he do with a fully healthy team with experienced underclassmen and several recruits ready to play?
If Patterson can win the Rose Bowl with a BMX-riding, two-star linebacker winning MVP honors, what can he do with a 320-pound defensive tackle in Ross Blacklock and imposing defenders like Mat Boesen and Tyree Horton?
If Patterson can put together 73 wins in a eight-year period where he had just five 4-star recruits, how many wins can he put together when he has 10 four-star recruits in a single class?
Patterson can claim that stars don’t matter. He can make every two-star player who walks into his door turn into champions, and hopefully, he continues to do so.
But now, he’s got stars and a newfound wealth of unrefined talent that the Frogs haven’t been able to utilize or access before.
And that’s because those stars matter.