The future of the Horned Frog football team will be shaped tomorrow on National Signing Day, when highly-prized recruits from across the nation announce where they’ll be playing college ball.
Several recruits are expected to declare for the Frogs tomorrow, including wide receivers Jarrison Stewart and J.F. Thomas as well as all-around athlete Tre’Vontae Hights.
Three recruits have officially signed with TCU already: cornerback Deshawn Raymond and linebackers Alec Dunham and Mike Freeze.
While TCU already has a class ranked in the top 40 in the nation by ESPN, fans and coaches alike are hoping that Signing Day will bring a few pleasant surprises.
Daylon Mack, ranked by various sources as one of the top defensive tackles in the country, will announce his decision at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Mack eliminated Texas from his top 3 on Monday, according to various reports, and has been keeping fans on their toes through his Twitter account.
Matt Jennings, a reporter for TCU recruiting hub PurpleMenace, gave his thoughts on TCU’s class of recruits in an interview with TCU 360 on Monday.
Here’s a look at who to expect to be a part of TCU’s 2015 signing class, how the new recruits will fit into coach Gary Patterson’s scheme, and which undeclared recruits may play in the purple and white next season.
Breaking down the recruiting class
Tony James (5’10”/153, 3-star, Arlington, TX)
Jarrison Stewart (5’11”/177, 3-star, Mesquite, TX)
J.F. Thomas (6’3”/171, 4-star, Dallas, TX)
Jaelan Austin (6’1”/195, 3-star, Grand Prairie, TX)
Darrion Flowers (5’9”/160, 3-star, Arlington, TX)
Among this plethora of Metroplex-area receivers, 4-star recruit J.F. Thomas stands out. Jennings said that Thomas is a “tremendous athlete” whose raw skills give him a “very high ceiling.”
The wide receiver position is already the deepest spot on the squad, so it will be tough for any of the freshmen to break through for significant playing time. Look for Thomas and perhaps Stewart to play, but only sparingly.
Montrel Wilson (6’2”/195, 3-star, Keller, TX)
Niko Small (5’10”/183, 3-star, Arlington, TX)
DeShawn Raymond (6’0”/185, 4-star, Metairie, LA)
The small-in-number but large-in-impact group of secondary players features cornerback DeShawn Raymond, who is one of only three 4-star recruits currently signed to the Frogs.
Jennings described Raymond as a very physical corner who “loves playing press coverage.”
“He’s got an advantage against some of these big, talented receivers that you’re going to see playing at Texas and Baylor,” Jennings said.
TCU’s current talent in the secondary may prevent any of these players from cracking the starting lineup, but Raymond does have the potential to see meaningful time on the field, as the cornerback position is wide-open after the departure of senior Kevin White.
David Bolisomi (6’6”/290, 3-star, Denton, TX)
Sam Awolope (6’5”/250, 3-star, Missouri City, TX)
Cordel Igwuagwu (6’3”, 285, 3-star, Houston, TX)
Jozie Milton (6’2”, 290, 3-star, Clinton, LA)
The offensive lineman crop is anchored by center Jozie Milton, who is ranked by ESPN as the eighth best center in the nation. TCU flipped Milton from his original commitment, South Carolina, in late December.
Alec Dunham (6’0”/210, 3-star, Coldspring, TX)
Mike Freeze (6’2”/215, 3-star, Weatherford, TX)
Semaj Thomas (6’0”/231, 3-star, Fort Worth, TX)
This trio of 3-star linebackers fit Gary Patterson’s prototype — big, aggressive and physical. Inside linebacker Semaj Thomas will need to improve his read skills, but his natural talent is unquestionable.
Joseph Broadnax (6’0”/303, 3-star, Dallas, TX)
Tipa Galeai, (6’6”/206, 3-star, Euless, TX)
Breylin Mitchell (6’4”/253, 3-star, Round Rock, TX)
The defensive line group is unheralded, but promising. Breylin Mitchell can be a factor if he gets quicker off the line, and Tipa Galeai has the height, but not quite the weight yet.
Once the recruits get into the hands of Patterson and his training staff, look for vast improvement by all three.
Arico Evans (6’1”/190, 3-star, Dallas, TX)
Kavontae Turpin (5’8”/145, 4-star, Monroe, LA)
Julius Lewis (5’11”/164, 3-star, Mansfield, TX)
Tre’Vontae Hights (6’3”/175, 3-star, Yoakum, TX)
Jeff Gladney (5’10”/160, 3-star, New Botston, TX)
His high school numbers are undeniable — he scored three touchdowns in the Texas 4A state championship game and his highlight film is stocked full of impact plays. He may see action as a return specialist in his freshman year.
Jonathon Song (5’9”/160, 3-star, Fort Worth, TX)
Song has the leg strength to start for the Frogs in the future. Barring any unforeseen catastrophe, however, Jaden Oberkrom has the kicking job locked down next season.
Putting it all in perspective
Although this class may look like the typical Gary Patterson group, with more focus placed on upside than hype coming in, TCU boasts the fourth-best class in the Big 12, according to most major recruiting sites.
Jennings said that this is a continuation of a trend that started around three years ago and is tied to the Frogs’ recent success.
“They’ve built up more of a reputation among recruits, which is good, and that’s only growing,” Jennings said. “They’ve gotten a boost from being in the Big 12 — now they’re getting a boost from performing.”
He pointed to the commitment of DeShawn Raymond as an indicator of how the Frogs’ influence is spreading.
“He’s a big get in part because of who they got him from,” Jennings said. “He managed to choose [TCU] over LSU and Mississippi State, those SEC schools.”
“That bodes well for TCU just as a program, that they’re able to draw those guys in,” Jennings said.
Signing Day surprises
While most of the Frogs’ recruiting class is seemingly sewn up, a few prospects are still up for grabs.
Jonah Moi, a junior-college linebacker currently committed to Washington State, may be a long-shot commit for TCU.
The Horned Frogs and the Oregon Ducks are attempting to poach Moi from his soft commit. The linebacker would be a great last-minute addition to an already solid defensive recruiting class.
Still, the biggest X-factor for TCU is the decision of 5-star defensive end Daylon Mack.
Before he informed the Longhorns that he would not be in burnt orange next year, the Gladewater, TX product had TCU and Texas A&M alongside UT in his top 3.
Now, Frogs and Aggies alike will have to wait until National Signing Day to hear where Mack will play.
Jennings, speaking before Mack announced that Texas was no longer in consideration, said that he believes TCU has the upper hand.
“TCU has been the only school that has consistently been in his Top 3,” Jennings said. “He has a great relationship with the coaching staff at TCU, and his family loves TCU.”
Still, information that broke early Tuesday morning indicates that Mack may be heading to College Station, but no confirmation has been made yet.
A darn good source just told me @DaylonMack is going to sign with Texas A&M.
— Newy Scruggs (@newyscruggs) February 3, 2015
Fans and football pundits are left guessing at where Mack will sign.
In fact, it seems that only one person knows.
Woke up this morning with one school on my mind! I know where I’m going!
— THEE MACK TRUCK (@DaylonMack) January 31, 2015