TCU football earns preseason Top 25 nod

It took more than a week and the debuts of multiple college football magazines during the sport’s annual June blitz of the nation’s news stands. But the TCU football program finally has achieved Top 25 status nationally and earned a best-in-Texas nod from the folks at Lindy’s Sports.

In the magazine’s College Football National 2017 Preview issue, TCU earned the No. 20 spot in the preseason projection of the nation’s top teams for the upcoming season. The Horned Frogs, 6-7 last year, placed three spots ahead of Texas (No. 23), the only other team from the Lone Star State to earn a Top 25 spot in the preseason ranking.

In its assessment of the Horned Frogs, who return 16 starters from last season, magazine editors cited the strength of the Horned Frogs’ linebacker corps as a key asset and concluded: “Overall improvement seems like a given, and this Top 25-caliber program will bounce back with vigor.”

The magazine projects TCU linebacker Travin Howard, a senior who led the Big 12 in tackles last season (130), as a first-team All-American and the No. 2 player nationally at outside linebacker. TCU’s Ty Summers, a junior, was rated No. 12 nationally at outside linebacker and the Frogs’ linebackers, as a unit, checked in at No. 3 nationally.

Additional individual accolades went to running back Kyle Hicks, a 1,000-yard rusher last season, who was ranked No. 17 nationally among the nation’s running backs, and wide receiver/kick returning KaVontae Turpin, who placed No. 6 nationally among all-purpose players.

The rankings by Lindy’s mark the first set to list TCU among its preseason Top 25 in 2017. The Frogs finished just outside the Top 25 in other rankings, including those done by Athlon Sports (No. 32). TCU, which combined for a 23-3 record and consecutive Top 10 finishes in the final Associated Press polls in 2014 and 2015, has been a consistent Top 25 candidate for multiple seasons under coach Gary Patterson.

In terms of the Big 12 race, the Lindy’s prognosticators like Oklahoma State (No. 5) to finish ahead of rival Oklahoma (No. 9), the two-time defending champion in the Big 12. Other Top 25 teams from the Big 12 include No. 20 TCU, No. 22 West Virginia and No. 23 Texas. Kansas State, at No. 26, was the first team omitted from the preseason Top 25.

Jimmy Burch: 817-390-7760, @Jimmy_Burch