The 2021 season produced two new title contenders in the Big 12 Conference as Baylor and Oklahoma State faced off in the Big 12 Championship Game. The conference announced plans to replace Texas and Oklahoma in 2025 by adding Houston, UCF, Cincinnati and BYU in 2023. The 2022 season will be the last season of the Big 12 Conference as it’s been known for the last decade.
There will inevitably be more seismic shifts this season after UCLA and USC announced intentions to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten Conference. Whether the Big 12 adds more schools or has more members poached by other conferences remains to be seen, but this will be the last year with just 10 member institutions in the conference. Next up in the Big 12 preseason power rankings is the TCU Horned Frogs. You can read previous installments of the series below.
No. 6 TCU Horned Frogs
For the first time since 1997, Gary Patterson won’t be on the TCU sidelines. Instead, Patterson will be advising conference rival Texas as the Longhorns look to upgrade the defensive side of the football.
Sonny Dykes packed his bags and moved across the metroplex after a successful stint at SMU. Dykes rebuilt the Mustangs program by cleaning up in the transfer portal and identifying under-recruited talents at high schools across the metroplex and the state of Texas. He also helped build SMU’s brand as Dallas’ football team. He will need to do the same things at a high level at TCU to bring the Horned Frogs back to contention.
One of the main factors leading to Patterson’s departure from a program he helped build nearly from the ground up was a lack of attracting top talent from the metroplex. It’s understandable that Patterson didn’t keep five-star level talent home. Rockwall receiver Jaxon Smith- Njigba wound up at Ohio State. Southlake Carroll quarterback Quinn Ewers chose Ohio State before transferring to Texas. Frisco Lone Star receiver Marvin Mims chose OU. Arlington Bowie offensive lineman Devon Campbell eventually picked Texas.
Alabama, Ohio State, Texas, LSU, Texas A&M and Oklahoma tend to recruit the metroplex the best. That’s what made Dykes success at SMU so impressive. That’s undoubtedly a large part of why he got the job at TCU as well. Take a look at SportsDay’s top recruits in the DFW metroplex for the class of 2022.
SportsDay’s Top 100 DFW Recruits (2022)
|1||(OL) Devon Campbell||Arlington Bowie||Texas|
|2||(DL) Omari Abor||Duncanville||Ohio State|
|3||(WR) Evan Stewart||Frisco Liberty||Texas A&M|
|4||(CB) Terrance Brooks||Little Elm||Texas|
|5||(DL) Ernest Cooper IV||Arlington Martin||Stanford|
|6||(CB) Austin Jordan||Denton Ryan||Texas|
|7||(LB) Jordan Crook||Duncanville||Arkansas|
|8||(WR) Armani Winfield||Lewisville||Baylor|
|9||(WR) Jordan Hudson||Garland||TCU|
|10||(S) Chance Biddle||Garland||TCU|
|11||(RB) Ollie Gordon||Trinity||Oklahoma State|
|12||(OL) Cole Hutson||Frisco||Texas|
|13||(OL) Cameron Williams||Duncanville||Texas|
|14||(OL) Neto Umeozulu||Allen||Texas|
|15||(LB) Trevell Johnson||Arlington Martin||Texas|
What are the main takeaways from the top 15? First, Texas identified the weakness of its roster was at offensive line. The Longhorns launched “The Pancake Factory” NIL program on December 6th, 2021, to pay each offensive lineman $50,000 a year. Texas signed five offensive lineman in two months after announcing that NIL program. We’ll have more on that in a future article, but that helps paint the picture of how important NIL is going to be in the recruiting landscape moving forward.
Garland’s Jordan Hudson and Chance Biddle were both committed to SMU before Dykes took the job at TCU. Garland’s dynamic duo were two of the highest rated recruits SMU had ever received a commitment from in the recruiting rankings era, but Dykes convinced both of them to flip sides of the metroplex and make the slightly longer drive to TCU for college.
There was a clear second tier of prospects after the first six with players committed to Arkansas, Baylor, Oklahoma State and TCU. Without Dykes, TCU isn’t in that tier. SMU is in that tier. Dykes immediately got to work undoing all his hard work at SMU and flipping those commitments to TCU. Then, he and his staff started branding TCU as DFW’s only power five school. Recruiting and branding are important to Dykes and his staff. With the facilities TCU has, Horned Frogs fans have reason for optimism moving forward.
Dykes inherits some talent on offense, but has a decision to make at the quarterback position. Max Duggan has started at quarterback for TCU the last several seasons, but OU transfer Chandler Morris looked good in brief work for the Horned Frogs last season. Duggan has 29 starts in his college career, but Morris flashed his potential as the starter in TCU’s upset victory over Baylor last year, putting up more than 500 yards of total offense with three touchdowns and no turnovers.
Doing that against Kansas would be one thing, but Morris put up those numbers against the eventual Big 12 champions. Baylor’s defense was one of the best in the conference last season. If Morris wins the job, he will have to prove it wasn’t just one good game in order to keep the job.
Kendre Miller and Emari Demercado will lead the running backs after Zach Evans transferred to Ole Miss. Miller finished the 2021 season with several 100+ yard performances and Demercado has played well over the course of four seasons in Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs also brought in Florida State transfer Corey Wren and Louisiana transfer Emani Bailey to provide depth to the position. If TCU ends up needing any more depth in the backfield, true freshman Major Everhart is a name to keep an eye on as someone who could play at running back or at receiver.
Quentin Johnson is the unquestioned leader of the receiving corps. Johnson has the potential to be the best receiver in the Big 12 this season if he can put it all together. Taye Barber and Derius Davis will both play in the slot, but beyond those three, TCU has to find some playmakers to step up. True freshmen Jordan Hudson and DJ Allen should get a chance to prove themselves.
TCU landed Texas transfer tight end Jared Wiley in the transfer portal. Wiley figures to get the majority of the snaps at tight end as a talented pass catcher. Carter Ware is more a blocking tight end with experience at TCU and should play a decent amount as well.
The Horned Frogs have an experienced group along the offensive line. Dykes brought Alan Ali, who started 39 games for Dykes at SMU, with him in the move to Fort Worth. Ali will pair with center Steve Avila and tackle Andrew Coker, who both return with 20 starts, and guards Wes Harris (13 games started) and John Lanz (12 games) on the offensive line. Dykes landed Arizona State transfer Ezra Dotson- Oyetade, a Garland native and player Dykes offered while he was at SMU, along with Robby Rochester from UCONN in the transfer portal.
The offensive line has a lot of potential, and Dykes is excited about how much physicality and athleticism the group has, according to Max Olson of The Athletic. With production returning at each skill position, TCU’s offense could be one of the best in the Big 12 if the offensive line develops into a solid unit.
According to Max Olson of The Athletic, TCU is switching its defensive scheme to the 3-3-5 look that has become increasingly popular in the Big 12. Defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie is making the switch after Gary Patterson used a 4-2-5 scheme. There may be some growing pains along the way as TCU’s roster is better constructed to run a 4-2-5.
Gillespie developed Soni Misi to play the nose guard position while true freshman Damonic Williams could also play at nose guard. Dylan Horton is primed for a big season at defensive end after recording nine tackles-for-loss last season. Terrell Cooper brings plenty of experience up front with 26 games started and will likely start alongside Horton and Misi. Gillespie will need to develop some playmakers to provide the starters with some depth.
Gillespie won’t have to worry as much about the linebackers as there is a ton of depth in the linebacking corps. Dee Winters and Jamoi Hodges return for the Horned Frogs, while TCU also landed the commitment of Navy transfer Johnny Hodges. Marcel Brooks is moving back to linebacker after playing receiver last year. Speaking of former receivers, Shadrach Banks was a fantastic receiver in high school before playing at linebacker last year as a true freshman for TCU. Banks came up with a game clinching interception in the win over Baylor. TCU also landed Texas transfer Terrance Cooks II in the portal.
Tre’Vius Hodges- Tomlinson is one of the best returning defenders in the Big 12 and should have a standout season at cornerback for TCU. He will lead the secondary after being named to the preseason Big 12 team. There are questions in the secondary outside of Hodges- Tomlinson. TCU hammered the transfer portal in the secondary, bringing in Josh Newton from UL-Monroe, Mark Perry from Colorado and Ishmael Burdine from Missouri.
All three of those players will compete for starting jobs along with Noah Daniels, Abraham Camara, Nook Bradford and Namdi Obiazor. I wouldn’t bet against true freshman Chance Biddle either. Biddle is a playmaker and should get a chance to prove what he can do. Biddle will play if he can prove he deserves it.
TCU doesn’t have the toughest non-conference schedule, but there is potential for the Horned Frogs to get off to a rough start. The Iron Skillet game will be unique in that TCU has that circled on the calendar, wanting to beat SMU in Dallas after getting embarrassed in Fort Worth last year. SMU, on the other hand, will have the date circled, wanting to beat Dykes in his return to the hilltop. Either way, this game will be must see TV. The Horned Frogs travel to Waco to play Baylor this year, but get most of the other tough Big 12 games at home this season.
TCU Horned Frogs Schedule 2022
|September 2||@ Colorado||W|
|September 24||@ SMU||W|
|October 8||@ Kansas||W|
|October 15||Oklahoma State||L|
|October 22||Kansas State||W|
|October 29||@ West Virginia||L|
|November 5||Texas Tech||W|
|November 12||@ Texas||L|
|November 19||@ Baylor||L|
|November 26||Iowa State||W|
|Overall Record||7-5 (4-5)|
The path to a bowl game isn’t easy for TCU because the Big 12 has depth this year. The Horned Frogs could beat Kansas State or West Virginia. TCU could also lose to Texas, Iowa State, Texas Tech or SMU. Predicting the Big 12 this year is a fools task, but I am a fool. Dykes needs to figure out who his quarterback will be and the defensive line unit will need to come along throughout the season. If those things happen, TCU could raise some eyebrows this fall.
Disclaimer: I will be posting my picks weekly on Tallysight once again this year. This is just my best guess as of July and these picks are subject to change once I see what actually ends up playing out on the field.