One of the first people John Diarse learned to talk to at TCU was Gary Patterson.
Good choice for any player.
But for Diarse, a 21-year-old who graduated early from LSU and transferred for a chance to evolve as a receiver in a spread offense, it made sense. He had a vision for himself, and Patterson prides himself on taking a big-picture view of his players’ careers.
Immediately, they connected.
“You can talk to him like an adult,” Patterson said. “What’s going on, how things are going down. Because he’s been through a lot of different things. But he handles situations.”
We talk about a lot of things, communicate about a lot of different things. It’s a lot easier when you’re mature and you’ve been through some battle-tested times and you have somebody that can relate to you.
TCU receiver John Diarse, on conversations with coach Gary Patterson
Diarse, talking to reporters Tuesday at Patterson’s weekly press conference, said he has had “a lot of different life experiences” that have matured him.
“Matured me faster than I thought it would,” he said. “I found it easier to talk with Coach Patterson, and he found it easier to talk to me. We talk about a lot of things, communicate about a lot of different things. It’s a lot easier when you’re mature and you’ve been through some battle-tested times and you have somebody that can relate to you.”
Diarse didn’t elaborate on the “battle-tested times” in his 15-minute group interview. At LSU, where coach Les Miles was fired last weekend, Diarse caught 28 passes in two years. TCU didn’t allow him to answer LSU-related questions.
But it’s clear Patterson has a respect for Diarse’s background and his play at TCU, where the Monroe, La., native has become the Horned Frogs’ third-leading receiver following back-to-back career games.
TCU’s John Diarse has 16 catches for 290 yards and one touchdown. He leads the team in receiving yards, and his 18.1 yards-per-catch average is second among players with more than one catch.
“This is not his first rodeo,” Patterson said. “He’s been in big games at LSU. Transferred here, wanted to catch more balls. Bottom line to it is, he’s done a great job. Not only that, he’s given us special teams. He’s been unbelievable on special teams.”
Last week, Patterson’s respect level only grew after a jarring end zone hit at SMU that sent Diarse off the field. The play resulted in the ejection of the player who delivered the hit, but Diarse returned to the game and caught a 75-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the second half to ignite TCU’s 33-3 victory.
Patterson said Diarse was quickly found to be OK on the sideline.
“What I talked to my whole team about was with him, when he took a shot in the end zone, a lot of guys would have taken themselves out of the ballgame,” Patterson said. “He’s got a chance possibly of being one of my captains this week. He represents what you’re trying to get to as a football team. You’ve got a guy who’s tough, mature.”
75 Yards on a catch and run for a touchdown by John Diarse against SMU. It is the longest play from scrimmage for TCU this season, and it helped Diarse to his first career 100-yard receiving game.
Additionally, Diarse is gaining ground in the Air Raid offense. After catching three passes combined in the first two games, he has 13 receptions in the past two. His 16 catches for 290 yards are already career highs, as is his 18.1 yards-per-catch average.
His experience is kicking in.
“A couple of routes he ran, he kind of tweaked some things within how he ran the route that actually allowed him to get open that SMU hadn’t necessarily worked on,” Patterson said. “When you have a guy that can do that, who is mature enough to look at a situation and change it, it’s going to make you a whole lot better. When we have more guys that grow up and do that, the better off we’re going to be as a football team.”
John Diarse played at the same high school, Neville in Monroe, La., as KaVontae Turpin. Diarse is now starting in Turpin’s spot while Turpin is out with a knee injury.
And right now, Diarse’s career may be better off. He prides himself on his blocking and doing whatever is required. But he has been the No. 1 target the past two weeks for Kenny Hill. If the plan was to make an impact in a passing offense, it has working.
“I got on an accelerated program at LSU, was able to get my degree,” Diarse said. “There comes a point in everyone’s life where you’ve got to make the best decision for you and your family.”
Diarse came to Fort Worth with two years of eligibility. He said he plans to play next season, although he could declare for the NFL draft or at least apply for an evaluation. But right now, another season of college fits into his long-term vision.
“My thing is, I’ve got to find a way to continue to provide for my family and put myself in the best position possible to be successful,” he said. “I’m thankful that Coach Patterson allowed me to come in with open arms and embraced me the way he has.”
TCU vs. Oklahoma
4 p.m. Saturday, KDFW/4