Louisiana quarterback Justin Rogers could become the highest-rated signee ever for TCU football Friday.
He’s the 34th-ranked player in the country, second-best at his position and second-best in his state, by 247Sports.com.
But those are only numbers.
More meaningful to TCU is the impact Rogers potentially has by headlining the 2018 class, putting it on pace at 19th nationally to be the highest-ranked ever for TCU, which in turn elevates the Horned Frogs’ recruiting reputation.
“He’s one of those players that’s a marquee player that people are going to gravitate toward because good recruits want to surround themselves with other good recruits,” said Jeremy Clark, publisher of HornedFrogBlitz.com on the 247Sports network of recruiting sites. “You’re talking not only about a good recruit, but the most important position on a football field, where a guy that's rated so high has decided to come to TCU. It’s definitely made an impact on the recruiting trail.”
Rogers is one of five four-star players on the TCU commitment list, including the most recent addition, Mississippi running back Fabian Franklin, who flipped from Mississippi State last week.
Following Rogers’ commitment on May 31, the Frogs and coach Gary Patterson added two more four-star players — receiver Tevailance Hunt of Texarkana Texas High and Iowa junior college tackle Anthony McKinney.
“That’s awesome, just seeing what Coach P has done and what that coaching staff has done over the years with players who maybe had one offer out of high school or weren’t ranked,” said safety Atanza Vognor of South Grand Prairie, the first four-star commit in the Frogs’ 2018 class. “Seeing what he did with those guys and now bringing in top recruits? That’s awesome.”
In June and July, seven three-star commitments followed Rogers’ pledge, including three fellow Louisianans — cornerback Hidari Ceasar of Monroe, running back/defensive end John Stephens of Logansport and cornerback Derius Davis of Saint Francisville.
“The guy set the tone. It was OK to leave the state of Louisiana when he committed to TCU,” Clark said. “That kind of got the attention of some other top players from Louisiana who don’t feel like they have to go to the state school anymore and can come over to TCU and play football with him.”
TCU already had a deep connection to Louisiana, particularly the Monroe area, home of receivers KaVontae Turpin and John Diarse and former players Chucky Hunter, a two-time All-Big 12 defensive tackle, and pass rusher James McFarland, defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl three years ago.
But the Horned Frogs still had to win a pitched battle against LSU for Rogers. The Tigers continued to push for the Bossier City quarterback, getting him on an official visit and in-home visit in November.
“TCU did a fantastic job of building a trust and a connection with Justin to show him that not only is TCU a place where he can maximize his abilities on the football field, but it’s a place where he’s going to go that he’s not just a number, he’s a guy that they care about,” said Steve Wiltfong, a national recruiting analyst for 247Sports. “LSU does a great job of keeping in-state kids home, and they're always going to. But Alabama's come in there and beat them for kids. They don't win them all. And recruiting's a relationship business.”
Wiltfong credits TCU for landing such a highly rated player, particularly when TCU under Patterson has paid little public attention to recruiting metrics. The Frogs’ highest-ranked class was No. 21 in 2016 with a record 10 four-star signees, including running back Darius Anderson.
“This is the 19th-ranked class in the country. That’s higher than TCU typically finishes, but again, those recruiting rankings don’t mean that much around that program with the success that they’ve had,” Wiltfong said. “There’s so many good football players out there, you’ve just got to make sure you don’t take bad ones or bad fits for your program, and TCU has a high track record of taking program fits, personality fits and personnel fits — guys that fit their scheme, guys that fit their culture. TCU has a high hit rate in that regard.”
Clark said Rogers has shown “fit” since committing.
"He's one of those guys that’s great for the quarterback position because he’s a leader,” Clark said. “He’s done a great job of trying to build the Frogs' 2018 class, gone out and tried to get some of Louisiana's top players to join the fold.”
The Rogers effect is likely to extend beyond the early signing period. TCU, like every other school, will get a second run at some of the top uncommitted players in the country in time for the traditional signing period in February.
“TCU’s trying to land Jamarr Chase out of Louisiana,” Wiltfong said, referencing a four-star receiver and former Florida commit. “Would he be as interested? I don’t know. I’m speculating. But it certainly doesn’t hurt having Justin Rogers in the fold if you’re recruiting Jamarr Chase.”