TCU

How TCU football got a recruiting boost from a ‘rock star’

TCU defensive lineman Zarnell Fitch celebrates with teammate Ben Angeley after an overtime victory against Utah on Sept. 15, 2005, at Amon Carter Stadium.
TCU defensive lineman Zarnell Fitch celebrates with teammate Ben Angeley after an overtime victory against Utah on Sept. 15, 2005, at Amon Carter Stadium. Star-Telegram/Sharon M. Steinman

It took one recruiting season for Zarnell Fitch to earn a nickname from TCU coach Gary Patterson.

“Rock star. Zarnell’s a rock star,” he said.

Actually, two nicknames.

“He’s the Pied Piper. Kids love him.”

Fitch, a former TCU player who finished his first season as defensive line coach, helped TCU land the country’s No. 31 recruiting class. He and cornerbacks coach Paul Gonzales impressed Patterson with their recruiting efforts.

“Both of those guys have been awesome, for young guys,” Patterson said last week at his National Signing Day press conference.

TCU signed the 31st-ranked recruting class in the nation for 2017, according to a composite compiled by 247Sports.

Fitch was the Horned Frogs’ high school liaison in his first two seasons at TCU before moving to defensive line coach last year. Gonzales has been the cornerbacks coach two seasons after three years as a graduate assistant.

“When we opened up the high school liaison position, everybody said, ‘Hire an older coach in the state of Texas,’” Patterson said. “Which would have been a good choice. And Zarnell had been around. Kids just gravitate to him, so I ended up hiring him. He’s been unbelievable in his time here.”

Fitch is a former Dallas Lincoln head coach.

You want to know what it’s like to be a college football coach? In the last two weeks of recruiting, you definitely earn your stripes.

TCU coach Gary Patterson

“There’s a lot of people that have recruiting talk, and then maybe they change,” Patterson said. “Zarnell truly has a pure heart, and kids love to be around him. He’s a good football coach, he’s a great recruiter, he’s a great family guy, and it’s easy to see. And the thing is, he’s tireless.”

Gonzales came to TCU after assistants jobs at Pacific and UC Davis, where the San Jose native was a four-year letterman in baseball.

“Highly intelligent, very articulate dude,” Patterson said. “He doesn’t have a problem traveling. I mean, in one day he went from North Caroline to Cali. … You want to know what it’s like to be a college football coach? In the last two weeks of recruiting, you definitely earn your stripes.”

Carlos Mendez: 817-390-7760, @calexmendez

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