With his legs bent and arms ready, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin toed the line against the fiercest competitor he would face Saturday.
His stance was met by the cold glare of his opponent who sized Boykin up with an unflinching stare.
On the other side of the line from Boykin was 3-foot-tall, 3-year-old Ashton Gebhardt, who stood ready to catch a pass with Boykin guarding him at the TCU kids clinic, which took place before Meet the Frogs on the field of Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Ashton said the stare was meant to intimidate.
Needless to say, the catch was made.
“I was playing corner over there and he said he was running a vertical,” Boykin said. “I just gave him a little nudge. He didn’t budge or anything, he just stared me down for like five minutes straight.”
For the first time since 2010, TCU held a kids’ clinic before the annual Meet the Frogs autograph event, which allowed young Frogs fans a chance to run drills with their football-playing heroes cheering them on.
TCU was unable to host the clinic over the past few years due to the renovations to the stadium and field.
It came as a treat for those Frogs fans who showed up early to watch TCU run a mock game with scripted plays to work on substitutions and different scenarios.
After the conclusion of the game, which ended on a “game-winning” field goal by kicker Jaden Oberkrom, it was the future Frogs’ turn to take the field.
For Boykin, it was all about teaching the finer arts of intimidation.
Several of TCU’s wide receivers, including sophomore Cameron Echols-Luper, tutored young Frogs fans on the touchdown dance.
“We were wanting to have fun with the kids and just dance with them,” Echols-Luper said. “Who doesn’t want to dance in the end zone? At the end of the day, we’re going to come to the sideline and dance and have fun and do handshakes. We just wanted to do that with the little kids.”
“I feel like they inspired us more than we inspired them,” senior linebacker Marcus Mallet said. “Just seeing the smile on their faces — that’s the whole deal.”
After the kids were sufficiently worn out from full-on form tackling blocking dummies (to which many flags for targeting could have been thrown) or high-stepping over bags like a TCU running back, fans and players alike congregated in the Sam Baugh Indoor Facility to collect autographs on TCU’s new “Amp It Up” posters.
It’s events such as Saturday’s that puts college football in perspective for Mallet as he looked on the winding line of hundreds of people waiting for him to pen his name.
“That’s who we do it for,” he said. “Of course we want to win, but seeing this many people support us is fun. It’s motivating. All these kids out here that don’t even know us and they’re out here wearing our jerseys and everything. It’s a crazy feeling.”
Ashton’s father, Steve Gebhardt, agreed.
“That’s what makes TCU great,” he said. “It’s a small field, but still big-time college football. It’s these little things that make it great to be a TCU alumni and a TCU fan.”