“I think they’re paper tigers,” head coach Gary Patterson said. “I won a Rose Bowl with the 65th class, so as long as they act like they’re the 20th class or better then I’ll be real excited. We really have a good group of people.”
The 18-man class consists of nine four-star athletes and 11 in-state products. Two offensive recruits will journey to TCU from junior college, offensive lineman Anthony McKinney and tight end Pro Wells.
The new Early Signing Period allows committed players to release a load of college recruiting off of their shoulders a couple months before the rest of the country. Incoming freshmen have the freedom to decide whether to sign in a short 72-hour period in mid-December or wait until the National Signing Period beginning on February 7th and extending to early April.
This is the first year of the Early Signing Period. In the past, players had to wait until the National Signing Period on the first Wednesday of February to officially sign with their college choice.
“The last two years since we went to dead days in December and January for recruiting,” Patterson said. “The last two weeks of January become chaotic, this is far better. You have 17-18 in the house and now we look to find five, six, or seven more.”
Top recruits to enroll early
Rogers, the No. 34 player in his class, suffered a season-ending knee injury during the first quarter of his senior year, leaving him on the sideline for the rest of the season. As a junior, Rogers completed 65.4 percent of his passes, totaling 2,646 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also made his presence felt on the ground, recording 566 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns.
“A leader always comes down to a quarterback and to have a guy like Justin that has a chance for our future for the next four-five years,” Patterson said. “Any time you get a great young quarterback like we did a year ago with Shawn Robinson, it says a lot about our future and what we’re trying to get accomplished.”
Rogers was named the District 1-5A Offensive Most Valuable Player in 2016, bringing a bright offensive light to Fort Worth.
“Justin combines great arm strength and accuracy with dangerous running ability,” co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie said.
Rogers, along with wide receivers Taye Barber, Tervailance Hunt and Bryson Jackson will enroll to TCU in the spring and participate in spring practice.
Hunt, a four-star recruit and the No. 4 ranked wide receiver in the state of Texas, could cause problems for opposing defensive backs. Hunt totaled 69 receptions for 1,243 yards and 18 touchdowns during his senior campaign.
“Tevailance is an explosive receiver who gets off the line quickly and has the speed to create separation, along with his good hands and ball skills,” TCU assistant coach Jarrett Anderson said.
Barber, the No. 8 ranked athlete in Texas, transitioned between running back and quarterback in high school before being used solely as a running back during his senior year. Barber rushed for 805 yards for seven touchdowns as a senior and totaled 10 receptions for 294 yards and one touchdown.
“Taye is a versatile athlete with great quickness and ability to score from anywhere on the field,” TCU co-offensive coordinator Curtis Luper said.
Jackson, coming in the spring as a wide receiver, was a first-team all-state selection who caught 69 passes for 1,067 yards and 21 touchdowns.
“Bryson is a sharp route runner with good hands and quickness off the ball,” Luper said.
His hands and quickness come from his baseball background. Jackson also plans to play on the baseball diamond in the spring and will join the TCU baseball team. Patterson trusts TCU head baseball coach Jim Schlossnaegle will manage Jackson properly.
“It’s never been a problem, it’s great,” Patterson said. “If they want to [play both sports], they can’t cheat both, and you have to be able to lift, run, and practice in the spring [for football]. I remember a day Chad Huffman had a scrimmage in the spring after football practice. He ran over to Lupton Stadium in his shoulder pads, undid them at the baseball stadium and first time up hit a home run. We just get them warmed up.”
Patterson has a different recruiting style than most programs nationwide and his fellow coaches look to find a mutual attraction between themselves and the prospects, forcing them to recruit slower than other schools.
“Both in Houston and Dallas people come from out of state and throw a lot of offers on the table early,” Patterson said. “We’re just not one of those teams that does that because I have to look so many people in the eye, their family, their friends, and tell them the truth because I’ll see them the rest of their life. That’s the way I’ve always done it here. Some people take it as me not thinking they’re a great player, but that’s not it.”
Patterson and the Horned Frogs still await the decisions of many players nationwide, including five-star recruit Tyson Campbell, the nation’s No. 2 cornerback and No. 11 overall player in the 2018 class. The full 2018 incoming freshmen class will be announced April 1, the final day of the signing period.