The faces of TCU’s football future were easy to spot in a 63-0 season-opening victory over Jackson State on Saturday at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
They were making big plays.
In their first taste of college football, TCU freshman speedsters Kenedy Snell and Jalen Reagor, and highly touted quarterback Shawn Robinson showed glimpses of why they were such sought-after members of the Horned Frogs’ Class of 2017.
Snell and Reagor were former football and track teammates at Waxahachie, a 45-minute drive or so from their high school campus to Fort Worth.
Surely, those two made it here more quickly.
Snell, a diminutive running back at 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds, in the mold of junior KaVontae Turpin, scored his first collegiate touchdown the first time he touched the ball, showing off his electric potential along the way.
A long way as it turned out.
Snell took a shovel pass from senior QB Kenny Hill at the 13 and looked for room sprinting to the right sideline before stopping and turning back the other way. Stepping in and out of possible running avenues, he made his way to the end zone on the other side of the field.
He traveled almost 50 yards to score a 13-yard touchdown pass.
Reagor, rated among the top receivers in the nation and top 10 players in the state as a high-school senior, figured prominently in the Frogs’ next drive, taking a pass from Hill and streaking 32 yards down the sideline to the Jackson State 4.
“They can go a little bit. I was so happy for those guys,” Hill said. “Snell, his first touch he scores, then we get it to Jalen, I thought he was about to score on his first touch. I threw my hands up thinking it was a touchdown.
“That’s big for them. Get their feet wet, get them into a game, get their nerves out a little bit. I’m excited for them.”
Reagor, son of former NFL defensive lineman Montae Reagor, a Texas Tech alum, had 50 catches for 967 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior. He chose TCU over Alabama, Oklahoma, Baylor, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Oregon and Texas.
Hill and receiver Emmanuel Porter hooked up on a jump ball for TCU’s second touchdown.
“There are a lot of weapons” out there, TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “You saw the potential that Snell has. He’s a lot like Turpin, got wiggle, can play in the backfield, can play wideout.”
Turpin’s role is expected to return to normal after being limited on Saturday. He did not play on the team’s first two possessions, a coach’s decision. The reason for that was left for only the coach to know.
When he did finally get in, Turpin was also limited with tightness in both hamstrings, an issue Patterson said would be remedied with better hydration.
Patterson’s assessment of Robinson’s debut: “I thought he was a little bit like a deer in the headlights.”
Robinson (6-2, 225 pounds), the most heavily recruited among the three, was one of the top quarterback recruits in the country after leading DeSoto to a 16-0 record and the Class 6A state title. He fumbled a snap and his first throw, on his first snap, was high and wide to the sideline.
The coach attributed some of that to the change in tempo dictated by the course of the game. When Robinson entered, TCU was already up big and slowing down the game.
Robinson, who passed for 3,416 yards and 28 touchdowns and rushed for 1,439 yards and 19 touchdowns in leading the Eagles to the school’s first state championship, was on the mark with his second throw.
Robinson dropped back and tossed a bullet that hit its target on a slant route, landing in TreVontae Hights’ No. 87 for a 56-yard pass-and-catch that increased TCU’s lead to 49-0.
Robinson, who had a second TD pass, 10 yards to former Fort Worth Paschal standout Dylan Thomas for TCU’s final score, finished 5 for 7 for 94 yards. He also showed off his speed with a 40-yard rush.
“The more he plays the better he’s going to get,” Patterson said. “We were slowing it way, way down. You practice tempo and then get in a game like that, where you’re waiting to snap with 12 seconds left on the play clock. That’s harder than you think it is.
“I thought the slant was a great throw.”