Head football coach Gary Patterson credited the natural talent of his players for the recent ESPN The Magazine No. 1 ranking of TCU football for developing top National Football League talent.
“They already have the potential,” Patterson said. “All we can do is just make them the best player they can be.”
Patterson said he hasn’t even figured out what the NFL wants.
Recently, ESPN The Magazine senior writer Bruce Feldman ranked TCU No. 1 nationally for its ability to develop NFL talent.
Feldman said his top ranking of the Horned Frogs came from Patterson’s ability to develop unheralded recruits into NFL Draft talent.
Offensive tackle Marcus Cannon and quarterback Andy Dalton, projected draft picks this spring, were both three-star recruits. Dalton was ranked as the nation’s 82nd best quarterback coming out of Katy High School.
TCU consensus first-team All-Americans Jerry Hughes (2008, 2009) and Jake Kirkpatrick (2010) were two-star recruits.
When training players, Patterson said he has tried to use the same system to enhance their natural abilities. Keeping the same system is the key.
Offseason practices are run the same way every year so the coaching staff can consistently and accurately judge certain aspects of the team, Patterson said. In spring practice, Patterson said he looks at how an individual matches up to a guy on the team from 10 years ago.
“By comparing a previous player’s results, we can learn how to make a new player better,” Patterson said. “A lot of times people go in and unknowingly just throw valuable things out.
“It’s like a good businessman. [If he sees a problem] he doesn’t go in and just change his whole plan. He will tweak that problem and continue to analyze what the natural strengths and weaknesses are.”
Hughes, a 2010 first-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts, won the 2009 Ted Hendricks Award as the nation’s best defensive end. He was also the 2009 Lott Trophy winner. Kirkpatrick was the 2010 recipient of the Rimington Trophy, honoring the nation’s top center.
Current NFL players who were also two-star recruits for TCU included tailback Aaron Brown, now with Detroit; offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse, now with Green Bay; and linebacker Jason Phillips, now with Baltimore.
Among current Horned Frogs, All-American linebacker Tank Carder and 1,000-yard rusher Ed Wesley were two-star recruits.
TCU had 24 players drafted and 48 in NFL camps through Patterson’s first nine years as head coach.
In 2011, the Horned Frogs put together their first national top 30 recruiting class, according to Rivals.com.