TCU can’t catch a break this August. Less than a week into camp three players, including two starters, have left the team.
The latest is offensive guard Michael Thompson, who after multiple knee surgeries, had to retire with a medical disqualification, Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson said after Tuesday’s practice.
Starting linebacker Joel Hasley left the program on Monday, a day after participating in team pictures. Hasley, according to Patterson and other sources close to the situation, just wasn’t enjoying football anymore. Starting offensive tackle Tayo Fabuluje was the first to bolt when he failed to show up when the team reported to campus on July 31.
Reports have indicated Fabuluje is interested in transferring back to BYU, where he played his freshman season before coming to TCU. Fabuluje attended Arlington Oakridge after transferring from Euless Trinity.
“Guys need to grow up,” Patterson said, successfully sounding as if the mounting personnel issues aren’t threatening to derail what many expect to be a winning season for the Frogs. “I’m really excited about it because in both places we have people we can move. We’ll probably have to move a [offensive] tackle into guard. We won’t do that until we get through our first scrimmage.”
That first scrimmage is Wednesday afternoon, which follows a morning practice — the first real two-a-day of camp.
Part of Patterson’s positive attitude has to do with some of the talented freshmen he has to work with at linebacker. Freshmen Sammy Douglas (from Arlington High) and Paul Whitmill (Bastrop High) both worked out with the second team on Tuesday, Patterson said.
“Both are really athletic and all of a sudden they’re starting to catch on a little bit,” he said. “They can both run.”
He said an offensive tackle will likely move to guard to replace Thompson.
“We still have a long way to go. There’s going to be some movement there. They understand there’s a competition. I think there’s a sense of urgency knowing that we don’t have two guys who were part of the deal.”
Hasley, who was entering his final year of eligibility (he played college baseball at Lon Morris College one year), started 10 games in 2012 despite not being on scholarship. Patterson said he tried to put Hasley on scholarship last spring but didn’t have one to give.
“I was able to put him on [scholarship] in the summer,” he said. “I told him he had earned the right for that to happen.”
TCU is allowing Hasley to remain on scholarship this semester while he completes his second degree. One source said Hasley may have felt slighted that a scholarship wasn’t forthcoming earlier.
“I would have thought he wouldn’t have gone through the senior pictures,” Patterson said about his reaction to the news. “But I love his family, I like him, it’s awesome. If you’re not having fun anymore, if you want to move on in your life because he wants to get his second degree, I fully understand all that.”
Fields won’t get LSU-style vote
LSU running back Jeremy Hill was reinstated by coach Les Miles on Monday after the sophomore was given two more years of probation for his role in a bar fight in April. The arrest violated the terms of probation he was already serving for a carnal knowledge misdemeanor.
Miles said Hill’s teammates voted that he should be allowed to return to the team. He practiced on Monday for the first time. Miles declined to say if Hill would miss any games in 2013 as part of a school-imposed punishment, but didn’t rule it out, according to the The Times-Picayune in New Orleans. TCU opens against LSU at 8 p.m. Aug. 31 at AT&T Stadium.
Gary Patterson said he won’t leave Devonte Fields’ two-game suspension up to a vote from his teammates. Fields was suspended after violating unspecified team rules in the spring.
“My whole team would vote Devonte to be back on the team because they all want to win,” Patterson said. “That doesn’t teach life lessons.”
Patterson said he took the LSU vote as a sign of respect, noting that he doubted the players would have been involved if the Tigers were opening against a lesser opponent. “I’m sure if it was some opponent they’d beat by 100 points [the players] wouldn’t have a vote. It’s not my worry. I’ve got to play whoever they put on the field.”
As for Fields’ chances of starting against LSU if, for example, he was appealing the suspension with the school and won, Patterson was unsure.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t think so. He’s doing everything he has to. He’s been embarrassed quite a bit for three months. That’s one of the reasons I did it, so I could change him. It’s really not my call.”