Pachall, Boyce among top Frogs for 2012

The TCU football team wrapped up the 2011 season with a 31-24 win over Louisiana Tech in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl last month. Let’s take a quick look at where the Frogs stand heading into the offseason. TCU will begin spring practice Feb. 25.


Key returners: QB Casey Pachall, RB Ed Wesley, WR Josh Boyce, WR Skye Dawson, OG Blaize Foltz, C James Fry, RB Waymon James, RB Matthew Tucker.

Key players lost: OT Jeff Olson, OG Kyle Dooley, OT Robert Deck, TE Logan Brock, WR Jonathan Jones, WR Antoine Hicks.

Positive: The TCU offense will remain largely intact as the Frogs enter the Big 12. TCU returns record-setting quarterback Casey Pachall as well as leading rusher Waymon James and leading receiver Josh Boyce. Starting running back Ed Wesley, who missed time with a shoulder injury early in the season, also returns to an offense loaded with talented, experienced skill position players.

Negative: The biggest hurdle for the Frogs next year is going to be rebuilding an offensive line that was anchored by a core group of veteran players. Offensive tackles Jeff Olson and Robert Deck and offensive guard Kyle Dooley stepped up in a big way early on as injuries thinned TCU’s offensive line depth. Replacing those three won’t be an easy task – but it’s doable. The Frogs will likely turn to guard John Wooldridge and tackle Ty Horn, who saw extensive playing time before being sidelined with an injury late in the season. Tayo Fabuluje, a 6-foot-7, 317-pound tackle, will also be available after sitting out this year after transferring from BYU. If TCU can find a way to mend its offensive line, then there’s no reason why the Frogs’ offense won’t continue to find success in 2012, even against stiffer competition in the Big 12.

Newcomers to watch

Griffin Gilbert, tight end – Gilbert, the brother of former University of Texas and current SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert, passed up offers from Texas and Texas Tech and committed to TCU in March of last year. The 6-foot-5, 215 pound Austin native is listed as a four-star recruit by and, with Logan Brock gone, might be able to compete for playing time as a true freshman.

Daje Johnson, athlete – Johnson, a Pflugerville native, committed to TCU last March and is the gem of the Frogs’ 2012 recruiting class. The 5-foot-10, 185 pound four-star recruit runs a 4.34 40-yard dash and racked up 2,178 rushing yards and nearly 500 yards receiving as a high school senior last year.


Key returners: DE Stansly Maponga, DE Ross Forrest, DT David Johnson, DT D.J. Yendrey, LB Kenny Cain, LB Tanner Brock, CB Jason Verrett, S Devin Johnson, CB Elisha Olabode, S Jonathan Anderson.

Key players lost: LB Tank Carder, CB Greg McCoy, S Johnny Fobbs, S Tekerrein Cuba.

Positive: The TCU defense’s front seven, its strong point of 2011, will be just as good, if not better, in 2012. The Frogs lose Tank Carder but get back 2010 leading tackler Tanner Brock at linebacker. Brock, who was out all year with a foot injury, will team up with Kenny Cain next year to form one of the best linebacker tandems in the Big 12. TCU also returns all four of its starting defensive linemen – Stansly Maponga, Ross Forrest, David Johnson and D.J. Yendrey. Those four, led by Maponga, are an underrated – but highly talented – bunch. Maponga, who finished the season with 55 tackles, 13.5 for loss, and nine sacks, may have been TCU’s most valuable player on defense.

Negative: The TCU secondary, uncertain and shaky at times this season, might stay that way. Safeties Johnny Fobbs and Tekerrein Cuba and cornerback Greg McCoy struggled early in the year but eventually improved and provided a veteran presence. But with those three gone, the Frogs will likely have to start from the ground up in the secondary. Luckily, sophomores-to-be Elisha Olabode (cornerback) and Jonathan Anderson (safety) and senior-to-be Devin Johnson (safety) all saw extensive action and success, at times, in 2011.

Newcomers to watch

Devonte Fields, defensive end – With Maponga and Forrest both returning as starters next year, TCU will be loaded at defensive end. But don’t expect that to keep Fields out of the rotation. The Arlington Martin product committed to TCU last April and is expected to sign with the Frogs in February. Fields, perhaps TCU’s best defensive recruit, is everything you want out of a defensive end – strong, athletic, quick – and should have the physical tools to get on the field as a freshman next season if Gary Patterson decides not to redshirt him.

Keivon Gamble, cornerback –  Gamble, a junior college transfer from nearby Trinity Valley Community College, should compete for playing time at cornerback. Gamble has already signed and will begin classes this semester. The 5-foot-10, 190 pound three-star recruit may not be as heralded as some of TCU’s high school recruits, but because of his juco experience, he should have the physical and mental presence to make an impact immediately in the Big 12.