You can’t fault head coach Gary Patterson for being in such high spirits when he met with the local press Wednesday to discuss his 2004 recruiting class.
Patterson had every reason to be optimistic on national signing day because he was able to announce the team’s 21 newest players, consisting of 16 freshmen and five junior college transfers.
“We’re excited,” Patterson said. “I feel really good about (the recruits) from top to bottom. This is maybe in the last three years our best overall and strongest group.”
Randy Rodgers, a contributing author to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine, said he is impressed with TCU’s recruiting class this year and that he ranks it as the third best in the state, behind Texas and Texas A&M.
“I think they did pretty well,” Rodgers said. “I like how they recruited tall offensive lineman who will be able to fill out. They also got a lot of multiple position guys who are very athletic.”
Highlighting the incoming class is Shae Reagan, a “dual-threat” quarterback from Idalou High School. Reagan, the 24th best “athlete” in the country rated by Rivals.com, originally committed to play football at Texas Tech over programs like TCU, Nebraska and Kansas State.
Patterson said the quarterback was always on TCU’s radar and that the program never lost interest in the Idalou native, even after he tore his ACL last season and committed to Tech.
“We had been recruiting him from the very beginning,” he said of TCU’s only 2004 quarterback recruit. “It’s one of those situations where he had committed to Tech but I think he felt more at home here. I don’t think he felt Tech was a bad place, but he just felt more comfortable here. We’re glad that he will be a part of this class.”
Patterson joked that Reagan ultimately decided to play at TCU because the recruit was impressed with his savvy guitar playing.
“He was just learning how to play guitar so we taught him how to play,” Patterson said. “He got one for Christmas and we sat there playing a little 70s and I taught him a couple of boogie beats. That was the first thing he said when he changed his mind that ‘the reason I came was the free guitar lessons.”’
Rodgers said Reagan is a great addition for TCU, and he thinks the quarterback has a bright future with the Frogs.
“Reagan is far and away the best player in the Panhandle,” Rodgers said. “He’s a terrific athlete who could easily be an NFL quarterback before it’s all said and done. He was a tremendous steal for TCU.”
Joining Reagan in the Frogs’ 2004 recruiting class is a great combination of young players and experienced junior college transfers, Patterson said. He said all the recruits are excited to play college football, and they have shown a great commitment to the program.
“The thing I like most about this group if I had to sum them all up is that they are a group that really loves to play the game,” Patterson said. “They are very committed to be a Horned Frog and that excites me more than anything else.”
Rodgers said although he likes TCU’s incoming class, he does not expect many of them to play significant roles in the Frogs rotation this season. He said the three freshmen wide receivers, Detrick James, Donald Massey and Otis McDaniel, are all great athletes but that they will not be counted on in 2004.
“As football players, (the receivers) aren’t as advanced as the ones TCU has playing right now,” he said. “I don’t see any of them being counted on too much this season.”
Although Patterson admits he rarely expects to get any immediate impact from his new recruits, especially the freshmen, he said the junior college transfers will be expected to contribute right away.
Patterson said these five transfers will need to play significant roles in their first season with the Frogs, as the team looks to improve its secondary from last season and fill the voids of the graduated Aaron Schobel and Chad Pugh.
“The biggest thing with this group is that we needed immediate help on the defensive side of the ball,” he said. “We were able to fill those needs by signing junior college players Zarnell Fitch and Chris Hayes for the defensive line and Quincy Butler and Drew Coleman at cornerback.”
Patterson said he credits the Frogs’ great recruiting class this year to the team’s run at a Bowl Championship Series game last season.
Even more important to the successful recruiting, however, is the program’s commitment to academics and its players, he said.
“At TCU, for us, one of the selling points that I think we have because we’ve been able to back it up is that it’s not what we will do for you in the next four years, it’s what we will do for you the next 40 years,” Patterson said.