It was a nice catch — a very nice catch, plucked out of the air between two defenders while his body turned, then pulled in and secured after a tumble to the ground at the 1-yard line — but Emanuel Porter didn’t think it was a big deal.
Just a catch.
“Honestly, it really didn’t seem like a big catch to me,” the TCU receiver said. “It just seemed like a normal catch.”
Not really. Not for many receivers. The 39-yard reception in the second quarter last week against Iowa State was made possible by Porter’s leaping ability, one of the characteristics that makes the Horned Frogs eager to keep giving the 6-foot-4 junior from Dallas Lincoln High School every chance to make plays on the ball.
I admired him a lot. I just tried to compete with him every step of the way. It brought out my game a lot.
TCU receiver Emanuel Porter, on former teammate Josh Doctson
“I heard everyone talking about it, coming to me and telling me how good of a catch it was,” he said. “I really didn’t pay attention until after the game. I saw it. I liked it. But I really didn’t pay attention to it.”
It’s the kind of play the Frogs got regularly the past two seasons from Josh Doctson, a first-round NFL pick.
Porter is a long way from Doctson in terms of production. But they’re close in size, style and background. Both were standout high school basketball players who brought to football a knack for positioning themselves for the ball in the air.
“I admired him a lot,” Porter said. “I just tried to compete with him every step of the way. It brought out my game a lot.”
Emanuel Porter, who said he received a basketball scholarship offer from New Mexico, was rated the No. 9 receiver recruit in the country in 2014 and No. 54 nationally by Scout.
It’s only been three games, and Porter only has seven catches. But the signs are there that Porter can do what the Frogs envision.
Last year in overtime at the Alamo Bowl, he went high for a touchdown catch over in the middle of the end zone. He finished the season averaging 15.2 yards per catch, behind only Doctson and Kolby Listenbee.
Through three games this year, his seven catches have him halfway to his career-high 14 from last year. Two weeks ago, he nearly had a game-winning touchdown against Arkansas but was ruled to have stepped out of bounds before the catch.
As the Frogs look for plays from somewhere to make up not only for the loss of Doctson, but also injuries this season to Isaiah Graham, Jarrison Stewart and Ty Slanina and the potential move of Deante Gray to cornerback, Porter remembers what he learned watching Doctson the past two years.
“He studied so well, I took that as part of my game and tried to match his,” Porter said. “Just being more of a student of the game.”
39 Yards, the longest reception of the season for Emanuel Porter this year and last year. As a freshman, his longest reception was 38 yards.
Porter is not a finished product. He got a late start on football at Lincoln, having first drawn a basketball offer from New Mexico. He tried receiver only after being encouraged to try out. So it’s probably no surprise that even as he enters his third year at TCU, the inconsistency is evident.
But so is the potential.
“Played really well in the Arkansas game. Probably not as well as we needed him to in the Iowa State game,” coach Gary Patterson said. “Young players have to learn you have to do it every week. You want to be great, you’ve got to do it every week. He didn’t play bad. But he can play better.”
TCU at SMU
7 p.m. Friday, ESPN