Horned Frogs set for future with 2016 class

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    The Horned Frog football team is looking to follow up a stellar 2015 recruiting class with an even more outstanding 2016 group.

    While National Signing Day for current high school juniors isn’t until next February, TCU has already locked down several recruits with strong verbal commitments.

    National recruiting sites have consistently given the Frogs’ recruiting class a top-25 ranking. ESPN has the Frogs at No. 13, Rivals ranks them at No. 17, and 24/7 Sports placed TCU at No. 12.

    The recruits

    Brennen Wooten (Quarterback, 6’1”/184 lb, San Angelo, TX, 3-star)

    The lone pure quarterback in the class, Wooten is a smart player who can make the big throws when necessary. He spent the first three years of high school at Marble Falls, but will transfer to San Angelo Central for his senior season. Jeremy Clark, a recruiting expert for 24/7 Sports, said that Wooten is a natural fit for TCU.

    “The best thing about Brennen is that he’s a student of the game,” Clark said. “He’s definitely a quarterback that can manage the game. He’s going to remind people of Andy Dalton.” Video Highlights

    Courtney Lark (Wide Receiver, 6’1”/183 lb, Bellaire, TX, 4-star)

    Lark is the latest in a line of playmaking receivers that have spent time at TCU. Greg Tepper, a Texas high school football expert and the managing editor of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine, said that Lark has “that big frame you want, but beyond that, he runs crisp routes and attacks the ball rather than waiting for it to come to him.”

    “He reminds me a bit of Josh Doctson in that regard,” Tepper added, a comparison that should excite Horned Frog fans. Video Highlights

    D’Eriq King (ATH, 5’10”/170 lb, Manvel, TX, 4-star)

    King currently stars as a dual-threat quarterback for Manvel High School, winning the District 22-6A MVP in both his sophomore and junior years. However, Tepper said that a position switch at TCU could be on the horizon.

    “King dazzled as a junior,” Tepper said, “and is that typical undersized dual-threat guy that Gary Patterson loves to recruit, a la Ty Slanina. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him change positions.” Video Highlights

     

    Austin Myers (Offensive Tackle, 6’5”/290 lb, Manvel, TX, 4-star)

    Myers, the highest rated of the linemen currently protecting King at Manvel, was being recruited by elite schools like Texas, Texas A&M, Clemson, Nebraska, and Oklahoma before committing to the Frogs. A prototypical linemen, his big frame will be key in both pass protection and establishing the ground game. Video Highlights

     

    KeShawn Somerville (Cornerback, 5’9”/169 lb, Pflugerville, TX, 3-star)

    Somerville may not have the size of some of his contemporaries, but he makes up for it with quickness and tenacity, two attributes that are essential in a Gary Patterson defense. An excellent hitter for his position with a nose for the ball, his highlight reel is full of touchdown-saving tackles. Somerville’s 4.37 second 40-yard dash speed allows him to chase down ballcarriers and lock up opposing receivers.

    He’s an important recruit for TCU, as he was previously committed to Baylor before flipping to the purple and white.

    Sewo Olonilua (ATH, 6’3”/217 lb, Kingwood, TX, 4-star)

    Olonilua plays both offense and defense for Kingwood, and he plays them exceedingly well. A bruising running back, he has the size to bust through tackles and the speed to outrun linebackers in the open field. Still, it’s his prowess on the defensive end of the ball that has scouts buzzing. As either a linebacker or a roving safety, Olonilua loves to wrap up opposing ball carriers, but he’s also shown a surprising knack for defending the pass.

    While he’s listed as a hard verbal commit to TCU, Oklahoma has been pursuing Olonilua for some time. Look for the recruiting battle to heat up as the year continues. Video Highlights

    Jonathan Marshall (Defensive End, 6’3”/250 lb, Shepherd, TX, 3-star)

    Although Marshall comes from a smaller high school, his natural talent has landed him on the recruiting radar of many big-time colleges. Oregon, Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, and other programs have all expressed interest, but Marshall verbally committed to TCU on July 18 of last year, the same day he attended a Horned Frog camp.

    Marshall may be the “sleeper” of the 2016 class, according to Tepper. “He has all the intangibles you want,” Tepper said. Video Highlights

    Dylan Thomas (ATH, 6’1”/190 lb, Fort Worth, TX, 3-star)

    Thomas, who plays his high school ball at Paschal High School just a few blocks down from TCU, started his career as a dual-threat quarterback. After a shaky start to the 2014 season, he switched to wide receiver, where he immediately excelled, averaging over 20 yards per catch. He committed to TCU in December, and should develop into a solid player as he enters offensive coordinators Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meachem’s system. Video Highlights

    These eight recruits will form the backbone of the 2016 class. Look for the Frogs to try to add more offensive linemen in the coming months, in addition to pursuing some linebackers to add depth to a depleted unit.

     

    A new Texas tradition

    One common theme among all of the current commits is the Texas connection. Gary Patterson has developed a strong recruiting base in TCU’s home state, and because Texas is one of the most productive states in terms of churning out high-quality football players, the Frogs are at a distinctive advantage.

    Geography isn’t the only factor, however.

    “I can only speak with regard to the Lone Star State, but I know that high school coaches around here are a tight-knit fraternity, and that can play to a coach¹s advantage or disadvantage when recruiting,” Tepper said. “From what I hear from them, Gary Patterson has a good rapport with high school coaches, and that pays dividends.”

    Clark said that the Frogs’ coaching staff has developed such a good reputation in Texas that high school coaches will call TCU to let them know of a player that may be flying under the radar.

    “They get a lot of these calls from coaches saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got a kid, he’s not getting a lot of attention right now but I think he’d fit your program really well,’” Clark said. “[TCU coaches] have done a great job of getting out and showing their faces to these high school coaches.”

    Still, it doesn’t hurt that the Dallas-Fort Worth area is rich with talent.

    “In 2014, 156 players from the DFW area signed with FBS programs; in 2013, it was 145,” Tepper said. “When you’ve got 150 FBS-caliber athletes to recruit in your backyard, that helps things significantly.”

    “Kids want to play for a winner, and TCU wins. When you’ve got a winning program close to home, that¹s going to be a positive set of circumstances for recruits.”