Gary Patterson, the man head man for the TCU Horned Frogs, has the reputation of being one of the better coaches in the nation.
He’s also considered a very good recruiter.
On a yearly basis he’s stuck fighting with Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and countless other top-notch programs around the nation for the finest kids from the recruiting hotbed that is the state of Texas.
He usually gets the leftovers that other teams don’t want. He finds Tommy Blake, a 2 star RB and turns him into a stud DE. He gets the #228 ranked WR in the nation in Josh Boyce and makes him into one of the top offensive weapons for the Horned Frogs. To top it all off, he gets a 2-star, skinny, redheaded Andy Dalton from Katy, Texas and turns him into the leading passer in TCU history – ahead of the likes of Sammy Baugh and Davey O’Brien.
So to see the Horned Frogs off to a slow start in recruiting, especially after the move to the Big 12, is somewhat of a shock.
Now the effects of moving to the Big 12 won’t be seen right away. They will need to prove that they belong before TCU and Coach Patterson start getting a handful of 5-star recruits and landing top-10 recruiting classes. But when fans of the Horned Frogs see the classes that Texas and Oklahoma are already putting together, there has to be sort of an uneasy feeling setting in their stomach.
Patterson is good at what he does. He sees talent that others miss and turns them into 103 wins in the past ten seasons. But this isn’t the Mountain West anymore. Last season he finished with the #41 ranked recruiting class, and in the past five seasons he’s cracked the Top-25 in recruiting ranks zero times. You can get away with that when you’re playing two good teams a year, but you’re now playing with the big boys.
Instead of finishing off the season with the likes of Wyoming, New Mexico, and UNLV, you get West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Texas – every year.
What they have so far:
The recruiting class of 2012 was solid. They landed two 4-star prospects in TE Garrett Gilbert and DE Devonte Fields. Both should be key fixtures of the Horned Frogs for several years. Tyler Matthews is a 3-star QB from Kansas that looks to be the heir apparent to Casey Pachall. Now don’t get me wrong, the rankings of these recruits are always a bit of mystery, and the difference between a 3-star and a 4-star is probably minimal, but on paper the class of 2013 isn’t overwhelming, especially for a team with the amount of success TCU has had.
This year got off to a slow start. In May, when teams like Texas and Oklahoma already have commitments numbered in the teens, TCU had two. According to ESPN‘s rankings, they have zero prospects in the ESPN 150, and none of their commitments are even listed in the top-300.
Things have picked up as they recently received commitments from 4-star LB Paul Whitmill and a former Texas A&M pledge, athlete Ty Slanina, as their class now sits at 13. The TCU class sits at #33 in the nation and no. 5 in the Big 12.
Work left to do:
With the season still yet to begin, TCU has time to reel in some big-name prospects. They are still on short list for several top recruits in the nation, including OLB Mike Mitchell, WR Tori Hunter Jr., and DT Justin Manning, who are all 4-star recruits.
For the most part, TCU is still a young team. In 2011 they landed 3 highly ranked recruits; two of them WRs LaDarius Brown and Brandon Carter. With the departure of Josh Boyce after this season, the WR group still looks to be in solid shape. QB Casey Pachall is still a junior, so there is still time to develop a QB for the 2014 season.
Look, signing day is still almost 6 months away, and these rankings, commitments, and these lists change more than the weather in Texas. But for as good as what Patterson does, you have to be a little concerned about the new crop so far.
There is still work left to be done, but bigger names and the ability to steal recruits from the big time programs will need to happen for TCU to become threat for the Big 12 title on a yearly basis.
It sounds like I’m being hard on what Coach Patterson has done this off-season in recruiting. I give him the benefit of the doubt and have no reason to think he will be anything but successful in the Big 12. Nonetheless, now that TCU is in a tougher conference, and on a bigger stage, how much longer can they maintain that success with the leftovers that no one else wants?
Jeremy Cabler covers the NFL Draft and College Football for Rant Sports. Check out his Scouting Reports