A number of recent TCU football alumni made their mark as rookies in the NFL this past season.
Following a disappointing 5-7 season in 2019, the Horned Frogs drew national attention in the 2020 NFL draft with its largest draft class since 2016.
The Frogs led the Big 12 with five players picked (sixth nationally) and tied with Oklahoma for the most first round picks with two, marking the first time TCU has had two first round draft picks since 1939.
Following the draft, five more players were signed as undrafted free agents.
The lack of training camp and preseason games because of COVID-19 made the former Frogs’ transition to the NFL unique. As the season progressed, several of them were still able to make a real impact. Let’s take a look at how their seasons went.
Jalen Reagor – Wide Receiver (Round: 1 Pick: 21 – Philadelphia Eagles)
Reagor stepped into a depleted Eagles’ receiving core and was able to earn playing time right off the bat. Soon after, he missed five games after being placed on injured reserve due to a torn ligament in his thumb.
In his first season as a pro, the former TCU wideout played in 11 total games and made 31 catches for 396 yards and a touchdown. Reagor also showed the NFL he can be a special teams threat with a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Packers.
In his three seasons as a Horned Frog, Reagor had 3,296 all-purpose yards and 24 touchdowns, two of which were punt returns. The Waxahachie native was also the earliest Frog drafted since TCU legend LaDainian Tomlinson, who was drafted fifth overall in 2001.
Jeff Gladney – Cornerback (Round: 1 Pick: 31 – Minnesota Vikings)
Gladney anchored TCU’s secondary during his years in college, and even his earliest moments in Minnesota gave him the opportunity to do the same on the pro level.
Injuries in the Vikings’ secondary gave Gladney an opportunity to see the field more than originally expected, and he did not disappoint. He played in all 16 games this season, recording 81 tackles, 3 passes defended and a forced fumble.
His playing time came mostly as a slot corner and he exceeded expectations at one of the hardest positions to play as a rookie.
In college, Gladney totaled 146 tackles, 38 passes defended and five interceptions in four seasons as one of Pro Football Focus’s top-rated cornerbacks. His selection following Reagor’s marked the first time the Horned Frogs had multiple first round draft picks since 1939.
Ross Blacklock – Defensive tackle (Round: 2 Pick: 40 – Houston Texans)
In his rookie campaign, Blacklock served as a rotational defensive lineman for the Texans. He played in 15 games and recorded 14 total tackles. With the recent release of long time Texan J.J. Watt, Blacklock looks to play a much bigger role on a Houston defense that ranked 30th in the league last year.
As a Frog, Blacklock recorded 67 tackles and 5.5 sacks in two seasons, anchoring TCU’s defensive line and earning him First Team Big 12 honors in 2019.
Lucas Niang – Offensive Tackle (Round: 3 Pick: 96 – Kansas City Chiefs)
Drafted in the third round by the defending Super Bowl champions, Niang decided to opt out of his rookie season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The New Canaan, Connecticut, native is capable of playing both guard and tackle, which will give him a better chance to see the field next season. While in college, he did not allow a sack in the 19 games he started during his junior and senior years.
Vernon Scott – Safety (Round: 7 Pick: 236 – Green Bay Packers)
An unexpected late round pick, Scott impressed the Packers in training camp and ended up playing in 13 games as a backup in the Green Bay secondary. This season, the former Frog had 13 tackles and a sack.
Scott was the only rookie Frog that made the playoffs, even seeing some playing time in the National Football Conference divisional round against the Los Angeles Rams. As a Frog, Scott was a big-play threat on the three turnovers he forced, one of which was a 98-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Undrafted Free Agents
Of the five TCU players signed as undrafted free agents, none recorded any stats in the 2020 season.
Running backs Sewo Olonilua and Darius Anderson were both signed by the Dallas Cowboys, and while Olonilua is now on their active roster, Anderson currently has a reserves/futures contract with the Indianapolis Colts.
Offensive guard Cordel Iwuagwu was signed by the Houston Texans, and he is now on the Cleveland Browns’ reserves/futures list. Offensive tackle Anthony McKinney was picked up by the Tennessee Titans, but he opted out of the season before training camp because of COVID-19. Wide receiver TreVontae Hights was signed by the Carolina Panthers and released shortly after.