TCU tight end converts to offensive tackle

Robert Deck plopped into a chair and tucked his tree-trunk legs under a table in TCU’s Four Sevens Team Meeting Room as he prepared to answer questions from the media Tuesday.

The senior offensive tackle plays the part of a college lineman well—burly arms, barrel-chested and even a half beard for good measure. The thing is, two months ago, Deck was anything but a starting offensive lineman—he was a skill position player.

Deck made the move from tight end to right tackle one week before two-a-days began in August after the TCU coaching staff saw a void in the team’s depth at offensive line.

So far, the transition has worked out well for both parties.

Deck has started in five of the Frogs’ first six games, missing only the SMU game due to an eye injury. The Fort Worth native picked up on the new position fast and has improved steadily ever since. Because of injuries at that position prior to the season, head coach Gary Patterson said he does not know where the Frogs would be without Deck.

“He was really the only available body that we had left that could move to [offensive] tackle,” Patterson said. “Without him, we wouldn’t be 4-2. We’re not where we want to be, but without him being where he is right now, we’d be in a lot of trouble.”

Patterson said Deck’s ability to adjust so quickly to his new position has been a key part to a TCU offense that is averaging 39.3 points per game.

“For a guy to step in that had never played the position and be able to block people and score as many points as what we’ve done, if you’ve never played something and you have to do it, it’s a hard thing,” Patterson said.

But despite catching on so quickly, Deck said the learning process for him is still far from over.

“There’s still a whole lot of learning,” he said. “Everyday in film, I’m always in the front row just trying to learn things because I learn something new everyday.”

Deck said the technique and terms used in the offensive line scheme are all new to him. He played fullback at Nolan Catholic High School and has been at the tight end position since walking on the team in 2007.

“I’ve never heard of any of this before,” he said. “Techniques are all different and different styles of blocking are totally different and just word usage in general is totally different. So I just grade myself as trying to get better every week.”

Verrett’s confidence restored

Cornerback Jason Verrett got burned for two touchdowns in TCU’s season opener at Baylor, but the sophomore transfer may have gained back some confidence after his performance against San Diego State on Saturday. Verrett came away with an interception and was key in shutting down the Aztecs’ passing game.

Gary Patterson said Verrett’s confidence level has risen from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs since the Baylor game.

“He was off the charts on the low end and all of a sudden he’s on the high end,” Patterson said.

Patterson said Verrett is starting to adjust to playing on the big stage, something he didn’t have to do last year at Santa Rosa Junior College in Santa Rosa, Calif.

“Like I told them before the season, ‘You understand having to play in front of 15 million people and your girlfriend, is that OK?’” Patterson said. “They kind of laughed, but when that happens and you’re put in front of 15 million people and that happens, it’s not that funny anymore.”

Patterson said adjusting to that stage and not worrying about messing up is something he can relate to.

“Do you really think I like hitching my pants without knowing it or tying my shoes or whatever else I do?” Patterson joked. “Whatever it takes to win. If I have to get suspenders, then I’ll do that.”