TCU has opportunity to go young at QB

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Trevone Boykin has experience, but TCU has options.

Boykin, a fourth-year junior, has made 15 career starts and seems like the obvious favorite to replace Casey Pachall at quarterback. In each of the past two seasons, Boykin stepped in when Pachall was injured.

But after a round of spring practices that brought little clarity and a final spring scrimmage in which TCU's quarterbacks disappointed, don't be shocked if you see a true freshman behind center for the Horned Frogs at some point this fall.

TCU coach Gary Patterson places a high value on the threat Boykin offers with his legs -- as proved by Boykin's stint at receiver last season -- and sees the running game as one of the strengths of his offense in 2014. But that won't prevent freshmen Foster Sawyer and Grayson Muehlstein from getting a real shot to win the job this summer and fall.

Neither Sawyer, a four-star recruit from nearby Fort Worth All Saints, nor the three-star Muehlstein of Decatur, Texas, were able to enroll early and participate in spring practices. But they attended as many as they possibly could and took in the final scrimmage Saturday, wearing TCU jerseys over their street clothes.

"As many practices as they could be at, they were at them," Patterson told ESPN.com on Monday. "One lives in town, one lives in Decatur, an hour north. So they were here quite a bit, definitely every time we had a Saturday. They'll come in and they've been in offenses similar to this."

So there is optimism that both will arrive this summer prepared to compete with Boykin and Tyler Matthews for a job that's essentially there for the taking. In addition to their spring visits, Sawyer and Muehlstein have a few other factors on their side.

This summer, college coaches will finally be permitted to work with their players, a practice once barred by NCAA rules. That means both incoming freshmen will get more time with new offensive coordinators Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham.

Both coaches come from programs that rolled with true freshman quarterbacks in 2013. At Houston, Meacham developed John O'Korn into the rookie of the year in the American Athletic Conference. Cumbie left a Texas Tech offense that used rookies Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield for a chance to coach quarterbacks at TCU.

Plus, the Horned Frogs' 2014 nonconference schedule is ideal for helping a freshman quarterback get comfortable. TCU opens with a home game against Samford, a week off, a home game against Minnesota and then another bye week before traveling to SMU.

"[The schedule] really lends itself to a young quarterback being able to thrive and move forward faster within this kind of offense," Patterson said.

But the plan had better be in place by the time TCU opens Big 12 ball, because its first two foes are early league favorites Oklahoma and Baylor. Patterson isn't committing to a timeline or making any promises on that front. He just wants competition.

"I think it'll just depend on how well they do on Saturdays," Patterson said. "That's where they get judged. Nobody ever judges a quarterback on how he plays in practice; it makes no difference. How does a guy play on Saturdays?"