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Top-10 player spring update: TCU Horned Frogs

Over the next two weeks, we will be unveiling the 10 best players on every Big 12 roster.

We won't be including junior college or freshman signees who have yet to arrive on campus, as we are only looking at players currently with their teams this spring.

These lists are sure to change, but this is our best assessment for the moment.

We continue the series with the TCU Horned Frogs:

1. DE Josh Carraway: The only returning first-team All-Big 12 defender in the conference, Carraway started every game last year and finished with nine sacks and 47 tackles. On a defense hit hard by injuries in 2015, Carraway was one guy you could count on. There’s no obvious No. 1 player on this team like Trevone Boykin was, at least not this spring, but the senior pass-rusher seems qualified to take the top spot.

2. WR KaVontae Turpin: One of the conference’s most exciting playmakers as a true freshman. The 5-foot-9, 153-pound speedster racked up nearly 1,700 all-purpose yards as a receiver, rusher and returner and scored nine total touchdowns, including a four-score spree against Texas. Turpin is a dude you must account for at all times, and the Horned Frogs know how to get him in space.

3. RB Kyle Hicks: This might seem high for a guy with 422 career rushing yards, but TCU folks are high on Hicks’ potential to be a breakout star in 2016. A knee injury slowed him early in his career, but Hicks is healthy and ready to take over for Aaron Green as the Frogs’ featured back. He’s a tough runner who can catch the ball out of the backfield, too.

4. LB Travin Howard: Last year, Howard was a 190-pound strong safety playing linebacker. Today, he’s a true 210-pound linebacker who wowed the staff in spring ball. Howard had zero career tackles entering his sophomore season and finished with a team-best 105. He’s going to be even better now that he’s more comfortable in his new role.

5. DE James McFarland: McFarland was poised for a big senior season in 2015 but had to miss the entire season and take a medical redshirt for a broken toe. TCU’s defensive MVP for the Chik-Fil-A Peach Bowl win over Ole Miss led the team in sacks in 2014 and is back to make up for that lost year. If he’s healthy, he’ll cause problems.

6. DB Denzel Johnson: A dynamic cog for the Frogs’ defense, Johnson started all 13 games at strong safety and did a great job. He brings a physical presence to the secondary and led TCU with 13.5 tackles for loss, while also chipping in 79 tackles and eight pass breakups.

7. WR Deante Gray: Another key piece TCU was missing last season. Gray was a terrific big-play threat during the Big 12 title run in 2014, when he averaged 16 yards per catch and scored eight touchdowns. A knee injury cost him the entire 2015 season, but Gray got a medical redshirt and should impress again this fall.

8. WR Emanuel Porter: Don’t be surprised if Porter ends up emerging as TCU’s best go-to receiver this fall. He’s played a limited role over the last two years -- 26 catches, 367 yards, four TDs -- but has the size-speed combination and leaping ability to be a nice replacement for Josh Doctson.

9. RB Shaun Nixon: As a redshirt freshman, Nixon made the move from running back to receiver and made an instant impact, catching 47 passes for 501 yards. Nixon returned to the backfield this spring and should be a quality option to complement Hicks. Like Turpin, Nixon is capable of making plays all over the field.

10. DB Nick Orr: Gary Patterson asked a lot of Orr last season as the injuries piled up, and he stepped up with nine starts at cornerback and four at weak safety. That versatility was invaluable and he learned under fire. No matter what role he adopts in 2015, Orr makes this defense better.