While TCU Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson is known for converting former high school quarterbacks into stars with his 4-2-5 scheme, the biggest theme from Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman on Monday when discussing the Horned Frogs was the speed that Patterson has recruited.
“TCU has speed everywhere,” Their skilled guys on offense are fast in terms of wide receivers and running backs, a running back with a 93-yard [touchdown run]... against Ohio State, who has a lot of speed on defense themselves. And obviously on defense, even their front and fast and athletic. They played well. They came up a bit short, but it’s as fast of a defense as I’ve seen in a long time.”
In a state that produces as much high school football talent as any other in the country, there’s plenty of speed, but Patterson has had to land it over other regional programs with more cachet, hold off SEC intrusions, or find under-recruited prospects. He’s done it all despite two-year and five-year recruiting averages in the 30s — solid, but far from elite.
And that’s what makes Patterson’s work in Fort Worth all the more remarkable.
RB Darius Anderson — A one-time Texas target in the 2016 recruiting class, Anderson chose TCU over offers from Alabama and Texas A&M. Anderson doesn’t have the best pure speed on this list — he ran a personal-best 11.10 100m in high school — but he does have enough long speed to take advantage of creases. Offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie helps with formations to open up room for Anderson and he often responds, as he did on that aforementioned 93-yard touchdown run against Ohio State. Anderson also has over 200 rushing yards against Texas in two games against the Longhorns, scoring on a 70-yard run in 2016.
WR Jalen Raegor — A top-100 player nationally in the 2017 recruiting class, Raegor was one of the major recruiting victories for the Horned Frogs in recent years who was pledged to the Sooners when he flipped his commitment in October 2016. One of the 18 fastest players in college football this season, according to NFL.com, Raegor ran a 4.41 40-yard dash in high school and was a state long jump champion. Raegor was quiet against Texas last season — he didn’t record a reception — but he was dangerous overall as a freshman, hauling in eight touchdown passes and going 93 yards on one play against Stanford.
WR KaVontae Turpin — A longtime Longhorns nemesis now, Turpin is one of the under-recruited gems found by Patterson and his staff. A Louisiana native, the 5’9, 157-pound dynamo held offers from Texas Tech, Tulane, and Louisiana Tech, but not Louisiana-Monroe. Turpin made his presence felt quickly against Texas as a freshman in 2015 with four touchdown catches, a Big 12 Conference freshman record. He’s also dangerous as a punt returner, with four career returns for touchdowns, including a 78-yard score against SMU in Week 2 this season. Turpin ran a 4.60 40-yard dash in high school, but can easily dunk and has plenty of game speed.
DE Ben Banogu — After dealing with USC’s Porter Gustin last weekend until his ejection, the Texas offensive tackles will have to deal with Banogu, the Big 12’s preseason Defensive Player of the Year. A Louisiana-Monroe transfer, Banogu used his flexibility and quickness to record 8.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss last season to land on NFL radars.
CB Jeff Gladney — Patterson tapped into East Texas to find Gladney, who was a consensus low three-star prospect out of New Boston in the class of 2015. Three years later, Gladney is one of the best cornerbacks in the Big 12 and one of college football’s fastest players, with TCU reporting a 4.34 40-yard dash. Last season, he drew attention for running down star Stanford running back Bryce Love and returning an interception 94 yards for a touchdown against Texas Tech.
S Innis Gaines — Another under-recruited prospect, Gaines didn’t hold any offers from other Big 12 schools. Arkansas extended one, but other than that, the Beaumont West Brook product was neither highly recruited nor highly regarded as a consensus mid three-star recruit. He broke into the starting lineup late last season and is now the team’s leading tackler who also has an interception, 4.5 tackles for loss, and six pass break ups. So expect to see Gaines all over the field for the Horned Frogs on Saturday. There aren’t any testing times for him, but it’s safe to say he’s another TCU player with serious game speed and instincts.
Defensively, Herman said that the plan for Texas is to try to keep everything in front of them. And while he’s confident that Todd Orlando’s defense has plenty of speed, too, the need to avoid having players like Anderson or Raegor or Turpin running free through space could cause Orlando to be a little bit more conservative with his pressure packages than he was against USC.
On offense, Texas will focus on a vertical running game and likely won’t use as many throws to the perimeter as it did against Tulsa.
“I think offensively going side-to-side is probably not — there’s going to be times and places for it, but in the run game you’ve got to go vertically a little bit,” Herman said. “You’ve got to try to push some of these athletes off the ball a little bit, and find creases, and when they try to use their athleticism to avoid blocks, you have to make sure your running game is in sync with that.”
Patterson’s ability to effectively teach his defense helps players like Gaines make quick, decisive reads, while Banogu’s explosiveness and Gladney’s pure speed can cause problems at the line of scrimmage and in the secondary.
So there’s a remarkable amount of speed on both sides of the ball given that only one of the players on this list was a consensus four-star prospect — that’s the essence of what Patterson so successful.