We're analyzing the depth charts of every Big 12 team coming out of the spring. Today we're breaking down TCU, one program that did release an official two-deep this month.
OFFENSE (projected starters in bold)
The race is tighter than you might think, and there was really no good reason to name a starter this spring. Gary Patterson and his offensive coordinators will let Hill and Sawyer keep progressing in the summer and see how they battle during two-a-days. The coaches probably won’t tip their hand until late in August. The third-stringer would be sophomore Grayson Muehlstein or freshman Brennen Wooten.
The staff sees Hicks taking on a leadership role. He’s ready to be their workhorse back and he doesn’t have much mileage at this point after just 55 carries last season. Nixon missed most of the spring, but is an exciting option who made plays at receiver last season. Olonilua has a bright future, whether it’s at running back or on defense.
The addition of Graham (an ESPN 300 recruit), Diarse (an LSU grad transfer) and Williams (a junior college transfer) really boosted the competition for TCU’s receiver spots. Gray is back to full speed after sitting out 2015, and the return of Slanina will be a big plus. And, of course, Turpin is one of the Big 12’s most electric playmakers. Listing Porter as a third-stringer might just be a motivational tactic. He should be a key target for whoever wins the quarterback job.
Patterson exited the spring feeling like he had five starters, but not much depth. That the now-healthy Collins was granted one more year of eligibility was a big plus. Schlottman might be TCU’s best lineman at the moment, and Noteboom is an experienced tackle. The Frogs just need to develop three good backups before September.
DEFENSE (projected starters in bold)
This has the makings of an athletic line featuring two of the Big 12’s best defensive ends -- Carraway and McFarland. Carraway is the league’s only returning first-team All-Big 12 selection on defense. Boesen, a junior college transfer who previously played at Boise State, should help. When healthy, McFarland is one of TCU’s best players. The Frogs have to keep growing up at defensive tackle, but there are enough options for a solid rotation.
The adversity TCU dealt with at this position last season will end up being beneficial, because this is now a loaded group of linebackers. Coverted safeties Howard and Wilson have bulked up and are much more comfortable now. Summers sat out this spring, but came on strong late last season. Douglas is back from injury and No. 1 rated junior college outside linebacker Tyree Horton will arrive this summer.
James and Gladney came a long way this spring as the starting cornerbacks. That was an important development as Texada comes back from a season-ending knee injury. Small and Simmons, a junior college transfer, will keep competing for the free safety job. Orr can play a number of roles for this unit, especially if Iloka comes back strong from his medical redshirt year.