Over the next two weeks, we're analyzing the depth charts of every Big 12 team coming out of the spring. We continue with TCU.
OFFENSE (projected starters in bold)
The battle between Hill, a Texas A&M transfer, and Sawyer, a sophomore who started against Oklahoma, is set to continue into preseason camp. Either guy faces long odds to replace the dynamic play of Trevone Boykin, but both quarterbacks should be capable of putting TCU in Big 12 title contention for the third straight season.
The Horned Frogs have plenty of talent at running back as they strive to replace Aaron Green. Hicks looks ready for an expanded role after rushing for 262 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore. Nixon could be the most versatile player on the roster after spending some time at receiver a year ago. Both guys should get plenty of touches. Johnson and Olonilua should provide quality depth.
TE: Charlie Reid (Jr.), Artayvious Lynn (Fr.)
Turpin is one of the Big 12’s most explosive returning receivers with unmatched quickness and open-field ability. Gray returns from injury to provide another big play threat, and Slanina is a proven receiving option. The rest of the receiver group is full of promise, so TCU should be confident someone will step up to help replace Josh Doctson’s production. The tight end position isn’t a part of the passing game, with four total targets in 2015, but Lynn is an intriguing prospect who could eventually become a receiving threat.
LG: Patrick Morris (Jr.), Cordell Iwuagwu (RFr.)
RG: Matt Pryor (Jr.), Chris Gaynor (Jr.)
Both tackles, Noteboom and Collins, have double-digit starts in a TCU uniform, providing a terrific foundation to build around. Replacing Joey Hunt won’t be easy but Schlottman started four games a year ago, including three starts at center after an injury ended Hunt’s season prematurely. Pryor, who started four games a year ago, has shifted inside to guard from tackle as the Horned Frogs aim to get their top five linemen on the field together.
DEFENSE (projected starters in bold)
RE: Mat Boesen (Jr.) OR James McFarland (Sr.)
Curry had a solid first season at TCU after his transfer from Nebraska, finishing with 41 tackles in eight starts. Carraway returns to spur the pass rush after leading the squad with nine sacks and nine quarterback hurries. McFarland should return to provide a boost after missing the 2015 season with a foot injury. Boesen, who played eight games at Boise State in 2014, is a junior college transfer who could have an immediate impact.
In the matter of a year, the linebacker spot has gone from a potential weakness to a position of strength for TCU. Howard (105 tackles, eight tackles for loss) and Wilson (61 tackles, 2.5 sacks) have the potential to be one of the conference’s top linebacking duos with Douglas and Summers providing terrific depth. The Horned Frogs consistently have linebackers that rank among the Big 12 best, and 2016 shouldn’t be any different.
FS: Niko Small (Soph.) OR Markell Simmons (Soph.)
The cornerback position is a question mark, but Texada, who has star potential, returns after missing the bulk of the 2015 season and Gladney has terrific upside. Johnson is an ultra-productive and versatile defender with 79 tackles including 13.5 tackles for loss and eight pass breakups. Meanwhile, Orr might be the best of the bunch with the ability to line up at any of the five secondary spots and impact a game. There are question marks in the secondary, but the overall talent and competition should be enough to create a solid unit.