The majority of the attention paid to the TCU Horned Frogs’ defense inevitably falls on reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Davonte Fields and cornerback Jason Verrett, and deservedly so. But neither will be the key to the success of the defense in 2013. TCU must have a leader emerge on defense and junior linebacker Joel Hasley is prepared to step up into that role. Will he take the Frogs to the top of the Big 12?
Last season, he was a key piece to the defense, finishing the season with 79 tackles, including 8.5 for loss and a pair of sacks. He finished second on the team in both tackles and tackles for loss, but returns in 2013 as the only player besides Fields in TCU’s front seven to record more than 36 tackles a year ago. With the departure of team leader Kenny Cain, who finished his career with a team-high 86 tackles in 2012, Hasley is next in line to step up as the leader on defense.
And he will have to embrace his role early. While Fields will likely be just as beastly on the line during his sophomore season, he won’t get onto the field until the third game of the season as he serves a two-game suspension. Verrett is undoubtedly one of the best corners in the Big 12, but he can only affect the game when it comes to him. Hasley has the opportunity and the skillset to make an impact on every play, and that’s exactly what Gary Patterson will need him to do if TCU hopes to get off to a fast start next season.
He won’t be the flashiest player on the field for TCU, but Joel Hasley could be the most important in terms of keeping the defensive unit together next fall, especially early. How far can he lead them in 2013?