Even though the Horned Frogs lost defensive captain and shutdown corner Jason Verrett to the NFL, don’t expect the TCU secondary to lose a step against the high-octane Big 12 offenses this year. This unit features a variety of seasoned veterans, as well as a few talented newcomers.
Safety: #17 Sam Carter
One of the most well-known and highly-acclaimed players for the Frogs this season is senior Sam Carter. Having started every game over the last two seasons, Carter brings leadership and experience to the talented secondary. He is coming off his best year yet, intercepting five passes and recording just under eight tackles for loss in 2013. Carter was named to the All-Big 12 second-team after the 2013 season and is on the preseason All-Big 12 first-team for the upcoming season. Look for him to lead the defense both on and off the field this year.
Safety: #1 Chris Hackett
Another key returning safety is Chris Hackett. Hackett, a redshirt junior, tallied 88 tackles last year, good for second on the team. He also proved to be a turnover machine by picking off three passes and forcing three fumbles. Hackett’s ability to force turnovers and log tackles makes him a vital and impactful part of 4-2-5 TCU’s defensive scheme.
Cornerback: #25 Kevin White
The Frogs have a seasoned cornerback in senior Kevin White that should help fill Verrett’s void this fall. Many offenses TCU faced last year avoided throwing the ball Verrett’s way-thus pressuring White, the number two corner, into defending more passes. He handled this pressure well, finishing second on the team with three interceptions and eight pass breakups. White will be the number one corner this year, meaning he will match up against the opponent’s best receiver each week. Look to see how White is able to compete against the best the Big 12 has to offer.
The Breakout Star
Safety: #26 Derrick Kindred
Derrick Kindred may be a familiar name for some TCU fans, as the junior safety started three games last season while Elisha Olabode dealt with injuries. Kindred made a big impact early on last season with interceptions against Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. He progressed throughout the year and was starting by the end of the season. Kindred will be the undisputed starting free safety for this season, and based upon his performance last year, he could be a breakout performer for the Frog secondary.
Corner: #11 Ranthony Texada
In a defense full of juniors and seniors, TCU’s secondary will feature a redshirt freshman starting at cornerback this fall in Ranthony Texada. Coming out of high school, Texada was ranked as the fifth-best cornerback in Texas and named the best cornerback in the Dallas Metro area. He is known for his speed, which will be important in stopping some of the speedster wide receivers throughout the Big 12. Despite his lack of collegiate experience, Texada will be expected to perform at a high level very early in his career.
Safety: #6 Kenny Iloka
A true fresh face to campus this year is junior college transfer Kenny Iloka. Currently, Iloka is listed second on the depth chart at weak safety behind Hackett, but don’t be surprised if Iloka sees significant playing time this year. Last year at Tyler Junior College, Iloka led the nation with 126 tackles and was ranked by Rivals.com as the top junior college safety. He also played in the same 4-2-5 defensive scheme at Tyler that the TCU defense runs, meaning that he has experience with Gary Patterson’s unique style of defense.
Losing an NFL-caliber player such as Verrett is always difficult, but TCU’s secondary should still be one of the strongest units on the team for the 2014 season. There may be some growing pains at corner as Texada begins his collegiate career, but the easy early-season schedule with two bye weeks should give him time to learn from any glaring mistakes. The rest of the veterans, especially the safeties, should perform at a high level. This secondary unit could easily be the best of the Big 12 in 2014.