On the day TCU opened August camp the team’s biggest weakness took a body blow.
Returning starter Tayo Fabuluje has left the team for personal reasons, TCU announced Thursday morning, a day after the players reported to campus.
TCU coach Gary Patterson said after Thursday’s practice that Fabuluje, who last season started 10 games at left tackle before starting the final two games at right tackle, has been dealing with unspecified family problems for the last two months.
“We had a meeting last night and he just couldn’t do it anymore,” Patterson said. “You know as much as I do.”
One source familiar with the team said Fabuluje failed to show up for the team’s first meeting Wednesday.
Patterson sounded positive about his offensive line two weeks ago when speaking to a Chamber of Commerce group at Amon G. Carter Stadium, even mentioning Fabuluje, who attended Arlington Oakridge, by name along with the rest of the returning starters.
Patterson expressed concern about the offensive line depth but still mentioned Fabuluje during a media luncheon Wednesday.
A junior, Fabuluje transferred from BYU after his 2010 freshman season and sat out 2011, per NCAA transfer rules, while practicing with TCU’s scout team. He was named an All-Big 12 honorable mention Offensive Newcomer of the Year
Sophomore Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who attended Haltom High School, was working with the first team Thursday, but Patterson declined to specify his spot on the depth chart. Vaitai played in five games in 2012. Another option would be to move senior James Dunbar over to right tackle from his current second-team spot at left tackle.
The loss could force inexperienced players into immediate playing time, including freshman Eason Fromayan (6-foot-5, 280 pounds), junior transfer Lloyd Tunstill (6-4, 305) and Matt Pryor (6-7, 350), who was an addition to the signing class.
“I don’t know,” Patterson said. “We’ll just see. We haven’t played our first ballgame. You’ve got to play with guys who want to be here, simple as that.”
One area of the team that Gary Patterson felt earned some praise after the first practice, which was with helmets but no pads, was the return game. Sophomore Deanté Gray and freshmen Cameron Echols-Luper, Ty Slanina and Ranthony Texada all looked sharp, he said.
“There were about five guys out there who looked like they fielded them better than we did last fall,” he said. “I was really kind of surprised. I think it’s a better group overall than what we were a year ago. They don’t have the pure speed that Skye [Dawson] does, but Deanté and Ranthony are awful fast.”
Olson signs close to home
Former TCU offensive lineman Jeff Olson signed with the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday. Olson recently had signed with Tampa Bay.