Texas Christian University has finally established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the NCAA. After winning the Rose Bowl earlier this year, and finishing #2 in the nation, the Horned Frogs have reeled in the best recruiting class they have ever had.
Coach Gary Patterson has led the Frogs to their second straight undefeated season, although with a better result than the 2009-2010 season, where they lost in the Fiesta Bowl to Boise State.
TCU has been an underdog, and unrated in the NCAA, and a lot of people may see TCU as a dark horse or a team that will only be good for a few years. The Frogs have finished in the top 25 eight times since the 2000 season, and have continued to get better every year. With the Frogs latest victory in the Rose Bowl, and a new Horned Frog stadium arising in Fort Worth, Patterson has more than enough tools at his disposal to recruit star athletes.
Gary Patterson and the TCU staff had a lot of new and effective ways to recruit young stars this year.
TCU moving to the Big East has definitely given TCU an edge over instate teams like Texas Tech and Texas A&M (University of Texas will always be the best Texas recruiting school). When TCU accepted an invitation to join the Big East after the 2011-2012 season, they opened up a door for themselves in the recruiting scene.
Moving to the Big East means that the Horned Frogs are now in an automatic qualifying conference, which will appeal to many athletes across the United States. The Frogs have been known to only recruit in the state of Texas, which isn't an advantage to that team in any way.
Now that they are in the Big East, playing teams in the northeast will open doors to expand their recruiting horizons. Once the 2011-2012 season is over, TCU will try their luck recruiting in the enemies areas of interest, hoping to present a more desirable football program than their future rivals.
TCU has one season left in the Mountain West Conference, and they're trying to make one last run at a National Championship before they head east. As ranked by Rivals.com, TCU by far had the best class of any team in the MWC.
The Horned Frogs have signed 25 recruits to their team for next season. With an average rating of 3.08 stars, the Frogs got two 4-star recruits, and 23 3-star recruits. They are the only team in the MWC to have every player they signed be over a 3-star.
With rivals like Boise State and Air Force having less than average years recruiting, expect TCU to go undefeated in the MWC, and try to take the NCAA by storm. Again.
When looking at the Big East, it is no more than a Mountain West Conference with more respect, which will bode well for the Horned Frogs. If TCU has another superb year, which is more than likely, the recruiting classes will only continue to get better.
If TCU were in the Big East conference today, they would be ranked second in terms of recruiting behind Louisville, who had a surprisingly good year in the signing department (averaging 3.16 stars per recruit).
When the Frogs join the Big East conference, there is no doubt that recruiting will improve for Gary Patterson, as he can offer so much more to young players. TCU has thrown themselves into another less than average conference, and is going to show everybody that in the first few years they're there.
Brandon Carter is definitely one of the most underrated wide receivers in this year's recruiting class. Carter is a 4-star recruit from Euless, Texas, and TCU had their eye on him from the very beginning.
The Frogs only other competition in getting this recruit was really Oklahoma, because the other schools offering were Minnesota, Duke and Wake Forest, teams that couldn't offer Carter what Fort Worth can.
Carter is a swift, curvy route runner with speed, but his strength and bulk may be a concern in the NCAA. Carter is lacking size, standing at only 5'11", but can create separation between himself and the defensive backs.
After losing a talented receiver in Jeremy Kerley, the Horned Frogs are going to expect a lot out of Carter, and he can deliver.
LaDarius Brown was without any doubt TCU's best catch in this year's class. Brown is a 4-star recruit and a Texas Native, but after considering schools like Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Nebraska, Brown decided to take his talent to the Mountain West Conference, where he can do a lot of damage.
Brown is a wide receiver with a tall build and great top-end speed. But that isn't what TCU should be most excited about. Brown played both sides of the ball consistently in high school and is also a great safety.
Although Brown will likely end up as only a receiver, the Horned Frogs will find comfort having him on the sidelines if the defense isn't working out.
TCU needs work on the defensive line for next season, and it's no secret. But this isn't about the players that the Frogs already have, this is about the future. Chuck Hunter's future is looking bright with TCU.
Hunter is a shorter tackle, only standing at 6 feet tall, but he carries his weight well, and is a very active defender. Hunter comes from a program much like TCU's, and has developed an attitude that will let him compete at a high level in the NCAA. With Hunter's ability to get off the ball, the D-line for TCU will probably look to focus on their speed, rather than their size. But when it comes to speed, and sacks, speed kills.
Losing Rimington Trophy winner Jake Kirkpatrick in 2011 is a huge loss for TCU. Kirkpatrick was not flagged once last season, and was not credited with allowing a single sack all season. Kirkpatrick was a huge part of Dalton's success in the pocket.
But help may be on the way with Jamelle Naff. No, he's not a center, and most likely not an award winning offensive lineman. But Naff has great size (6'4" and 310 lbs.), and was the 24th overall tackle in this year's class. Naff will be a huge part of TCU's scheme this year, as throwing the ball may be less effective for the Frogs.
Naff is already said to be NFL caliber. Naff displays his ability to come off the ball low, and with pure, brute strength. He dominates opponents, and is an explosive run blocker. If Naff can develop his skills in Fort Worth, and improve his pass blocking, the offensive line could be a force of its own, and will leave plenty of great defensive lines face down in their wake.
With the losses of Tejay Johnson, Alex Ibiloye, Jason Teague, Colin Jones and Tyler Luttrell, the TCU defense needed a major makeover. TCU signed seven defensive backs this year, headlined by junior college transfer Jason Verrett.
Verrett is ranked in the JUCO top 50, and not only has played on a level greater than high school, but has excelled at it. Verrett is a very fast corner, running a 4.38 40, and has the ability to put himself in a position to make a play on every pass.
There isn't much to say about the Frogs defense yet, but after being the best defensive team in the NCAA, they have a title to defend. Expect Gary Patterson to waste no time developing this defense into another group of incredible athletes that could give TCU yet another shot at BCS National Championship.
Filling a massive void left by Dalton's departure will be hard for TCU, and the Frogs are hoping that recruit Trevone Boykin can be the player to fill it. Boykin has received early criticism because of his small build, but is a dual-threat at the quarterback position.
Comparing Boykin to to Virginia Tech's 5-star recruit, Tyrod Taylor, is interesting. Boykin had significantly better stats than Taylor in high school, and plays the same style of football. Boykin, who is underrated due to his height and weight (6'1" 205 lbs.), is the same size as Taylor was when arriving at VT.
Boykin is definitely a sleeper recruit in this year's class, and will develop into a great player under Gary Patterson. With an offensive line that will block better for the run than the pass, Boykin will almost always have an opportunity to scramble with the ball, which will open up the passing game for a group of new and talented receivers.
As usual, the question that everybody begins to ask after National Signing Day is, "Are they worth the hype?"
The answer is yes. Texas Christian University has gained speed in the last two years, going 25-1, and they show no signs of stopping. With fans that have their minds set on a National Championship, and a new stadium on the way, there is nothing that will stand between TCU, and another easily achieved undefeated season. Not even Boise State.
TCU will take one more shot at history as a non-qualifying team in 2011 before their move to the Big East. Once they get to the Big East, expect TCU's recruiting numbers to go up, their overall ability and potential to go up, and watch as people stop underestimating the power of a purple frog.
TCU will be playing for a National Championship in the next five years, and they will win. The Horned Frogs are probably the most determined team in all of college football, and the lack of respect that the nation gives to them only fuels the fire.