Potential is much more important than ‘stars’

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    TCU has become a perennial college football power over the last decade with talent that was overlooked by most schools; and with National Signing Day Wednesday, the Horned Frogs added more untapped talent to the program.

    Coach Gary Patterson has brought in athletes some college football recruiting fanatics consider to be the leftovers of other universities such as Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M. TCU has typically gotten overlooked players who possess traits which Patterson prizes and is able to adapt to his system.

    The quality of a player in high school does not always reflect their potential in college, and Patterson has a proven ability to recognize and develop the potential of high school athletes.

    Andy Dalton (three stars), Jerry Hughes (two stars), Daryl Washington (not rated), Marshall Newhouse (two stars), Jason Phillips (two stars) and numerous other former TCU football players were not highly recruited out of high school but have become quality NFL players.

    Hughes and Phillips played offense in high school, but were converted to play defense at TCU, leading them to NFL careers. Patterson saw their potential at positions they had not played and developed their defensive skills.

    Patterson, unlike some coaches in the nation, does not give out scholarship offers to top players without thoroughly evaluating the player. He wants to be certain the athlete will fit into the program in every aspect.

    This formula has proven to be a successful one, with TCU playing in two BCS bowls in the last three years and finishing with an average ranking of 7.25 in The Associated Press Poll over the last four years.

    The TCU coaching staff only offers scholarships to players with the qualities and character off the field that translate to success on the field and in the classroom.

    Quarterback Casey Pachall, running back Waymon James and former wide receiver Jeremy Kerley are the most successful four-star athletes to have made an impact at TCU in recent years.

    TCU has brought in nine four-star players in the last five recruiting classes (including 2012) compared to four in the previous five-year span.

    Over the last few years TCU has acquired more four-star players who meet Patterson’s standards than in previous years. That number could increase as they move to the Big 12 Conference.

    TCU has not brought in a five-star recruit since rivals.com and scout.com, websites that rate high school players and allow fans to stay informed on their university’s recruiting process, were created.

    Although the websites decide who the five-star athletes are, instead of the college football coaches, the media attention and national recognition received from getting a five-star player is significant.

    Johnathan Gray, a running back from Aledo High School, is one of the top recruits in the nation according to Rivals, ESPN and Scout. In April he decided to commit to the University of Texas, but TCU was a close second.

    If Gray, the Gatorade National Player of the Year, who holds the national record for most touchdowns in a season and career in high school football, had decided to play football for TCU instead of Texas, the Horned Frogs would have taken a big step into an area they previously have not – landing a five-star recruit.

    As TCU becomes more successful, finishes construction of its new stadium and joins a power conference, its appeal to higher profile recruits will undoubtedly increase, but that does not mean Patterson will overlook the flaws in those players.

    If the football team continues to succeed as it has the last few years, TCU will continue to get players with good character and great potential, whether they are five-star or two-star prospects.

    Brett Musslewhite is a senior sports broadcasting major from Houston.