The class is headlined by Longview, Texas defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson, who chose TCU over Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Ole Miss among others. The 6-foot-2, 270-pounder continues the Frogs' success of landing big time defensive linemen; Henderson is currently ranked as a four-star and nation's no. 13 defensive tackle prospect.
The Frogs have also landed one of the nation's top signal callers in Decatur, Texas gunslinger Grayson Muehlstein. At 6-foot-4, 202-pounds with 4.5 speed, Muehlstein currently sits at No. 25 in the country and is just a few spots from being ranked a four-star prospect. Not only is he a perfect fit for TCU's spread offense, Muehlstein boasts one of the strongest arms in the nation. Muehlstein was receiving strong interest from Kansas State, LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma State before committing to the Frogs.
TCU's 2014 class started with a bang last summer with the commitment of Dallas Lincoln receiver Emmanuel Porter. At 6-foot-5 , 180-pounds, Porter received an offer from the Frogs after an impressive camp showing and didn't take long to become the Frogs' first commit for the class. Porter hadn't played a down of varsity football for the Tigers prior to the 2012 season. Since his commitment to the Frogs, Porter is still receiving strong interest from programs such as SMU, Baylor, USC and Texas.
With those four student-athletes in the fold, who do the Frogs continue to put forth their strongest recruiting efforts to? Who are the potential program changers?
The Frogs are in the mix for some of the top players in the country, some of which are regarded as top five players in their respective position. With preseason stories and blogs predicting the Frogs to finish no worse than third in the Big 12 in 2013, the Frogs could be in line to sign perhaps their top class in the Patterson era. The players they are targeting would certainly help them do so. Most importantly, the players high on their list all appear to have a mutual interest in TCU.
Who are the "must haves" in a class that for now could sign between fifteen and eighteen prospects?
With that question in mind, we at HornedFrogBlitz.com take a look at the twelve "must-haves" to finish off an already impressive start to the class.
NOTE: This is solely the opinion of HornedFrogBlitz.com and not that of the coaching staff at TCU.
Why Adams is a must have: What's not to like about the nation's third best safety prospect who arguably could be the best overall player at his position? It didn't take the Frogs long to notice Adams' talents last summer at a one-day mini -camp. Adams quickly drew the attention of head coach Gary Patterson and it came as no surprise that the Frogs offered. Adams blends size, physicality and overall athleticism that make him special as a defensive back. Combine those attributes with his awareness and we're talking about a player who could make an impact as a true freshman at free safety. Frog fans surely remember Tejay Johnson, think of Johnson with more speed. And we all know how fond Patterson was of Johnson in his four years as a starter in the Frogs' secondary. In all honesty, Adams very well could be the #1 player on the Frogs "board" of recruits. The Frogs have a connection with Adams too, his coach, Brian Brazil, played for the Frogs in the 80's. Landing a player of Adam's caliber would definitely open eyes across the country.
Why Barrett is a must have: The Frogs are always in need of offensive linemen and why not go after one of the top offensive linemen in the country in Barrett. For Barrett to receive an offer early on, as an offensive lineman, means one thing; the staff loves him. TCU is known to be very "selective" in their recruitment of offensive linemen. Barrett is a big player at 6-5, 300-pounds and has excellent footwork from his tackle position and would have a chance to make an impact early in his career. The Frogs lose James Dunbar at the end of the 2013 season, Tayo Fabuluje will be a senior and Aviante Collins and Halapoulivaati Vaitai will already be juniors by the time Barrett hits campus if he chooses TCU. And as Frog fans have seen, Patterson and his staff are not afraid to play true freshmen. The good news for Frog fans is Barrett recently visited TCU's campus and came away extremely impressed; noting that the visit "exceeded" expectations.
Why Cannon is a must have: Simply put, Cannon is one of the most explosive playmakers in the country. TCU was one of the first programs to offer the east Texas speedster and for good reason; Cannon caught nearly 2,000 yards worth of passes in 2012. TCU currently has one receiver commitment in the class with Porter, and the Frogs would love to add Cannon to compliment to class at the position. Cannon has kept relatively quiet on the recruiting front but TCU has been mentioned as a team he's strongly considering. The reasons are obvious; the Frogs will have four senior receivers on the roster once Cannon begins his college career as a freshman. Playing time has been mentioned by Cannon as a key factor he's looking at and for the Frogs, they'll be able to boast plenty of it. Not to mention, Cannon is the type of elite receiver that would make an impact in the rotation the second he steps foot on campus. Plenty of schools are in the picture for Cannon, including pretty much the entire Big 12.
Why Davis is a must have: Again, it's an offensive lineman we're talking about and Davis is one of the top tackles in the country. The recruiting process ended for Davis before it really ever started with his February commitment to Texas A&M. But, it appears that Davis, better known as "Tank", is at least listening to others. That includes TCU, who hosted Davis and others a few weeks ago at a Frogs' junior day. Like Barrett, Davis is the type of player who could come in and compete right away along the offensive line. He's big enough to play tackle, but he also could play guard if need be. It speaks volumes that Davis has already received an offer from the Frogs, considering their selective process when it comes to offensive linemen. The Frogs currently have just over a handful of offers out to offensive linemen and one player they'd love to add is Davis. Although he's committed to A&M, he will be one to keep a close eye on throughout the process.
Why Freeman is a must have: Unless you've been under a rock lately, you've heard the worries the Frogs have at linebacker and the depth, or lack thereof. The Frogs currently have three linebackers on scholarship and will add three more this June when Sammy Douglas, Paul Whitmill and Dac Shaw hit campus. But, the linebacker corp is perhaps the weakest its been in pure numbers in the Patterson era. Enter Freeman, who the Frogs targeted very early in the process as an outside linebacker. And just how much would the Frogs like to have Freeman? Well, it's been heard that the staff sent the Arlington native 50 letters a few weeks ago. That would go under the category of a guy that is high on a list. Freeman boasts excellent size and good speed to be an excellent linebacker in Patterson's system. Although he is still somewhat raw at the position (he switched from safety), you're talking about another prospect who on pure athleticism could see playing time at linebacker or special teams. Plus, he's not far from home and at last look, TCU has had good success recruiting players from the Arlington area.
Why Garrett is a must have: Physically, there may not be a more impressive looking athlete in the 2014 class not named Braden Smith. Garrett's physique is obviously an eye-opener when you see him up close, but once you see a 6-4, 250-pounder run a 4.09 pro shuttle as a defensive end, you quickly realize why he's on virtually every college programs' radar. Garrett is another prospect who isn't talking favorites at the moment but word is that a few schools, including TCU, are among his favorites. His good buddy and former teammate Devonte Fields is a big reason why the Frogs are favorable to Garrett at the moment. But, there's other reasons why Garrett is taking a look at the Frogs. Take for instance the impact the Frogs have had at defensive end in recent years; Jerry Hughes was a first round pick three years ago; Stansly Maponga was regarded as one of the top defensive ends in the Big 12 and Fields was named Big 12 defensive player of the year. Simply put, TCU defensive ends make plays in Patterson's system. For Garrett, early playing time is there and once again if he can prove himself, Patterson will not be afraid to play him. Let's not forget the fact that TCU has built a good pipeline at Martin and the Frogs currently have three former Warriors on their roster.
Why Hall is a must have: If you're looking for versatility, there may not be a better option than Hall. The fact is the 6-3, 203-pounder can make plays on both sides of the ball. Some schools are recruiting him as a receiver, while others like him as a safety. Baylor certainly got a dandy in Hall, but his recruitment looks to be far from over. The five-star has taken visits to both Arkansas and LSU since his commitment to the Bears and that's only opened doors for others to continue their pursuit. TCU is among those schools who continue to recruit Hall and he's a player that the offensive and defensive coaches would have an all-out battle for to decide which side of the ball he would line up on. As a receiver, Hall would give the Frogs yet another big, fast weapon on the outside. As a safety, the sky is the limit under a defensive mind like Patterson. Regardless of where he lines up, he will be a difference maker. The only question is, can TCU get him to visit? Still plenty of time in this process to do so.
Why Mayes is a must have: No matter where Mayes ends up, he'll be a contributor the moment he arrives on campus. TCU wasted little time offering the big center and for Mayes it was an offer that was "a dream come true". Mayes comes from a TCU family; his grandfather Gene played for TCU in the 60's while his father Allen spent time at TCU in the late 80's. The only question is, will the dream offer be enough to sway the younger Mayes? Let's get back to the early contribution Mayes could make at center. In the course of the Frogs' 2013 spring workouts, Patterson has mentioned a handful of times that play along the interior of the offensive line has got to improve; especially play at center. Is that a message to Mayes? Probably not, but the statements can't be overlooked and one would believe that Mayes has taken notice. As the nation's No. 1 center prospect, the idea of playing early, and close to home, has got to be intriguing to the entire Mayes family. Just how high is Mayes regarded by TCU? He received a handwritten letter by the entire coaching staff after his visit a month ago.
Why Paris is a must have: Like Davis and Hall, the Frogs haven't backed away from Paris even with his commitment to LSU. Paris is in a unique category, along with Jamal Adams, who could play either corner or safety at the next level; and be very, very good at both. At corner, Paris boasts excellent height that would allow him to cover the bigger Big 12 receivers. But, in TCU's defense he could be an excellent option at one of the three safety positions. TCU has likely told him that he could play any of the five spots in the defensive backfield for them. Now, beating LSU for Paris won't be an easy chore, but a head to head meeting at Cowboys Stadium with the Tigers could help if the Frogs pull out the win. Patterson himself has been very involved with the recruitment of Paris and when a head coach is that involved, it's known that the prospect is very high on the "want" list.
Why Smith is a must have: What's not to say about the most physically gifted specimen in the 2014 class? Every program wants to land the 6-6, 280-pounder who looks more like an NFL player than that of a kid who is still in his junior year of high school. TCU knew early on that Smith was a kid that would be very high on their list of recruits, offering him his sophomore year of high school. Smith is very quiet on the recruiting front, he rarely does interviews and when he does, he's not one to list favorites. He's so quiet about the process that he visited TCU in January and it was virtually unknown. But, the quietness changed a little recently with him telling his coach that three schools currently stand out; one being TCU. The Frogs put themselves in a very good position by targeting Smith early on. TCU isn't far from home and playing in the Big 12 with road games in Kansas and Iowa, Smith would be close to his family in Kansas. Of course, it doesn't hurt that his sister throws the shot put for the Frogs' women's track team as well. It's a well-known fact that Smith comes from a close-knit family and he idolized his big sister growing up. So, it would appear that TCU looks good to Smith from a family perspective, but likely won't be the deciding factor. On the gridiron, Smith is still somewhat raw, but there aren't any linemen on TCU's roster at the moment that could match his overall athleticism which is why he could be yet another player to make an early impact. If getting bigger and stronger is a big factor, TCU strength coach Don Sommer will test his limits. Smith already has a 500-pound bench press under his belt. Landing Smith would give Patterson his highest rated recruit in his tenure at TCU.
Why Swain is a must have: It didn't take the Frogs long to realize that Swain was perfect for their defense and is why it didn't take long for an offer after watching film of the 6-3, 212-pounder with 4.5 speed. As previously mentioned with Freeman, TCU has a very big need at linebacker. And like Freeman, Swain fits the defensive scheme at TCU like a glove. Swain mentioned TCU as a team he was strongly considering before he ever talked to a coach from the school. Two weeks ago he made the seven-hour drive from Missouri and upon the completion of his visit, the Frogs vaulted into his top 5. He went from no offer, to an offer and mentioning TCU as a top five school in a span of two weeks. Imagine what the Frogs staff can accomplish with more time to recruit him. Let's get back to why he's a must have; the obvious reason is added depth to a depleted position. Second, Swain is just that good to be the type of player that could make an impact. Learning linebacker in a 4-2-5 scheme isn't always the easiest and after his visit, Swain was definitely intrigued with how the linebackers were set up to make plays. Swain is also a very intelligent linebacker so the transition may not be as rough for him.
Why Thomas is a must have: TCU has two of the top defensive ends in the country within a one hour drive from campus; Garrett and of course, Solomon Thomas. Like the others on this list, Thomas is wanted by several prominent programs from all over the country. TCU, with their development at defensive end would be a good option for Thomas and make no mistake about it, they'd absolutely love to have Thomas wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks. Thomas has been relatively quiet throughout the process, but the nation's No. 5 defensive end to make it to a Frog's junior day last month. Thomas has visited a few schools in the process and he hasn't listed any favorites at the moment. TCU has two benefits that could help them land Thomas; proximity and playing time. Just as Fields did, Thomas has the same potential to come in and be a dominant presence in the Big 12 as a freshman. He routinely draws double and sometimes triple teams at Coppell. TCU would love to have a guy with Thomas's ability to play the opposite side from Fields.