Boykin enters the 2015 season with the national spotlight upon him. The reigning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year is a co-favorite to win the Heisman Trophy at 5/1, along with Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, according to Bovada.
Boykin etched his name in the TCU record books after a 2014 campaign that featured a school record 3,901 passing yards and 33 touchdowns.
At Big 12 Media Days, Boykin talked about the shift in mindsets that comes with a No. 2 national ranking.
“Our motto has changed from prove them wrong to prove them right,” Boykin said. “Last year coming off a 4-8 season they told us what we didn’t have and what we couldn’t do. We knew we had a ton of talent. It was all about the mindset.”
With the departure of punt-return specialist Cameron Echols-Luper to Arkansas State, TCU fans may see more of true freshman KaVontae Turpin. TCU head coach Gary Patterson spoke highly of the wide receiver throughout fall camp.
“The guy that sticks out that has had a really great camp so far is Turpin,” Patterson said. “[Turpin] never gets tired. Punt-returner, kick off returner, he does a little of everything. I wish I could put him on defense.”
Turpin, a Louisiana product, was a three-star recruit and the No. 12 prospect in the state, according to Scout. The versatile Turpin totaled 1,928 all-purpose yards as a senior at Neville High School en route to the 2014 All-NELA Big School Offensive Player of the Year award. GoFrogs.com lists Turpin at 5 feet 9 inches and 152 pounds.
Patterson compared Turpin’s play in practice to former TCU linebacker Daryl Washington, when the coaching staff would have “Daryl sightings.”
“Turpin’s one of those guys. You have Turpin sightings,” Patterson said.
In an effort to avoid revealing his depth chart to Minnesota, Patterson would not confirm that Turpin will take over Echols-Luper’s duties as a punt-returner, but he did say there will be a freshman fielding punts.
Turpin, along with freshmen receivers Jarrison Stewart and Jaelan Austin, are expected to contribute this year, Patterson said.
Mike Freeze and Montrel Wilson
Perhaps the biggest question facing the TCU defense will be how effectively the unit replaces the production of Paul Dawson and Marcus Mallet.
Early in camp, true freshmen Montrel Wilson and Mike Freeze were practicing with the starting unit. Patterson said on multiple occasions that he likes the speed of Wilson and Freeze, recalling the benefits of having fast linebackers like Daryl Washington and Tank Carder in the past.
“The faster linebackers will allow us to play some overages we haven’t been able to play in the last couple years,” Patterson said.
Now Patterson’s task is to make sure that speed translates to Saturdays.
“You know, Marcus Mallet was a five-flat but he played like a 4.5. I got to get the 4.5’s to play like a 4.5 instead of like a five-flat,” he said.
As of last week however, Patterson said only Freeze was practicing with the first team. Wilson had dealt with an unspecified injury during camp and moved to the second team.
Hunt, a second team all-Big 12 selection, anchors a veteran Horned Frogs offensive line.
Patterson said the senior center, who has been named to the Rimington Trophy Watch List, is a smart player who is hard to blitz on.
“Joey [Hunt] has got the strongest hands, the quickest hands of anybody we’ve ever had here,” Patterson said during fall camp. “If he was two or three more inches they’d be all over him.”
Hunt, along with Boykin and the rest of the TCU offense, was tasked with the challenge of quickly learning a new “air-raid” offense before the 2014 season. In year two under offensive gurus Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham’s record setting offense, Hunt still sees room for improvement.
“Last year we came into camp and we weren’t really used to the style of offense,” Hunt said at Media Days. “We kept learning and we got better and better week in and week out. Hopefully we can get an even better grasp of the offense this year.”
Doctson will lead an experienced TCU wide receiving corps after a 2014 season in which he set TCU’s single season record with 1,018 receiving yards and 11 touchdown catches.
The senior and second team all Big-12 selection walked-on at TCU after playing one year at Wyoming.
“I just try to keep the same mentality of a dude that had to work for a scholarship here,” Doctson told USA Today. “I feel like when I’m that person, I’m at my best. To be a guy that sees a potential future on the next level.”
With the graduation of Kevin White, redshirt sophomore Ranthony Texada is now tasked with leading the defensive backs.
Texada started all 13 games in 2014 and recorded his first career interception during the final regular season game against Iowa State. Texada will lead a group of defensive backs that loses 13 interceptions worth of production in Sam Carter, Chris Hackett and Kevin White. The proverbial “passing of the torch” from former first round pick Jason Verrett to White and now to Texada is in full effect. Texada, like Verrett and White, will likely be assigned to cover the Big 12’s best wide receivers.
With wide receiver Deante’ Gray recovering from a knee injury, Meacham and Cumbie will look to replace the production Frog fans saw from Gray (582 yards and 8 touchdowns). The timetable for Gray’s return remains unclear, but Patterson has said Gray is doubtful for the season opener at Minnesota.
Desmon White could be the man for the job.
White, a true sophomore, played in 12 games as a freshman but reeled in just 14 catches. A former quarterback at Desoto High School, White was the Associated Press Texas 5A Player of the Year and District 7-5A Most Valuable Player.
At 5 feet 7 inches and 150 pounds, White received just two offers from North Texas and TCU. But his small stature didn’t prevent him from posting eye-popping numbers at Desoto.
White passed for 81 touchdowns over the course of four years (two as the starter) while rushing for 41 more. He accumulated 8,095 passing yards and 4,071 yards running the ball.
With Kolby Listenbee using his 10.12 100-meter dash speed to blow past defensive backs, White could provide another speedy component to the TCU offense as Gray’s knee continues to heal.
Green will be the most experienced player in the TCU backfield in 2015 having taken over for an injured B.J. Catalon in 2014.
The senior and former Nebraska transfer lead the 2014 Frogs with 922 rushing yards that he racked up at 7.1 yards per carry.
Green has been named to the preseason watch lists for the Doak Walker and Earl Campbell Tyler Rose awards.
Despite Green handling the majority of carries for the 2014 Frogs, Patterson still said “all four [running backs] are ones.”
Beyond Green, the four running backs include Kyle Hicks, Trevorris Johnson and Shaun Nixon.
“Usually every time we do [have four running backs] everybody says we have too many,” Patterson said after another long fall practice in August. “And by about the fourth game we’re on our third one.”