Possibly overshadowed by a colossal men's basketball upset over No. 5 Kansas, TCU’s signing day has not been overlooked by Athletic Director Chris Del Conte.
Signing day, the first day a high school senior can sign a letter of intent to attend and play football at an NCAA school, was referred as a “national holiday” by Del Conte.
Del Conte said he feels he has good reason to be optimistic not only for the incoming recruits but also for the future of the football program.
The athletic director said that the program’s recruiting philosophy did not rest solely on a recruit’s national ranking or the number of stars a scouting website gave them.
“You have to think development,” he said. “You look at what Gary [Patterson has] done and his staff. They are tremendous at developing talent. And at the same time, you have to find kids that match you not only with your personality but also your system.”
TCU's 2013 recruiting class may not be as lucrative as desired. Scout.com ranks Texas Christian University sixth in the Big 12 conference and 45th overall among NCAA Division I-A schools. Of the 22 players who have signed letters of intent with the university, only one – Martin High School running back Kyle Hicks – was considered a four-star recruit.
The national rankings do not matter to Del Conte, he said. For him, this recruiting class has similarities to an older recruiting class, which brought TCU some of its most coveted trophies.
“If you look at that class that won the Rose Bowl, they weren’t even ranked in the top 50 in someone’s eyes,” Del Conte said. “[Former quarterback] Andy Dalton’s choices were [TCU], UTEP and Memphis. And then here he is, starting for the Cincinnati Bengals, having led us to the Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl.”
Del Conte said the athletic program's biggest concern is the well-being of their student-athletes off the field of play. Viewing himself as the “grandfather” to all of the young people in the program, he said he does not take that stance or the responsibilities that come with it lightly.
“I meet with every recruit when they come here,” Del Conte said. “I tell them that coming to Texas Christian is not a five-year decision. It’s a 50-year decision. This degree will impact your life."
Del Conte continued, “My job here is to support our coaches and our student-athletes, their endeavors to win championships on the field and graduate in the classroom.”
Last year, the university was recognized by the American Football Coaches Association as one of only 18 schools in the nation to graduate at least 90 percent of its football players. All 20 seniors from last year's team either graduated or are on track to graduate this spring.