TCU

Jeff Gladney may be hurting, but he’s trying to be the leader TCU needs — and it shows

Junior cornerback Jeff Gladney had no interest in becoming the next player on TCU’s lengthy injury report this season.

Gladney sustained an apparent right foot injury in the Oklahoma game on Oct. 20 and didn’t practice the week leading into the Kansas game on Oct. 27. Gladney easily could’ve missed the KU game, but opted to play.

Why?

“I was in pain, but I’m trying to be a leader,” said Gladney, who is one of the top cornerbacks in the Big 12. “I’ve only got one more year left. I know we’ve got a lot of young guys, so I’ve got to step up and lead them. I feel like just playing showed them like, ‘Hey, you’ve got to push through anything.’

“All the adversity we’ve had, you know, you’ve just got to push through.”

Gladney and the team didn’t have the day they would’ve liked against Kansas, but it served as a stepping stone in Gladney’s desire to become more of a leader.

And gutting it out against KU made last Saturday’s victory over Kansas State that much sweeter for Gladney. A healthier Gladney played a starring role, registering a career-high 10 tackles including his first career sack.

Gladney came on a corner blitz and used his 4.37-second 40-yard dash speed to get to K-State quarterback Alex Delton in a hurry in the third quarter. Gladney knocked the ball loose, too, but defensive end Ben Banogu ended up fumbling it back to K-State.

Either way, it marked Gladney’s first career sack and showcased another asset he brings to the team.

“I love it,” Gladney said of the corner blitz. “I’ve been trying to get better.”

Saturday’s game pushed Gladney over the 100-tackle mark for his college career. He now has 105 career tackles and has made 28 career starts.

The Frogs need Gladney to keep his production level up down the stretch if they are going to make a bowl game. Gladney and the TCU secondary face a difficult task against No. 7 West Virginia on Saturday.

The Mountaineers have the conference’s second-best pass offense, averaging 333.1 yards in the air. Quarterback Will Grier is in the Heisman conversation, and receiver David Sills V is a big-time threat on the outside.

That is a challenge Gladney is surely welcome to accept. He clearly doesn’t like being on the sidelines.

Coach Gary Patterson touched on Gladney’s growth on and off the field during Monday’s Big 12 football coaches conference call.

“You could tell that he’s maturing -- playing the best since he’s been here, “Patterson said. “He didn’t practice all week because of injury and didn’t do great vs. Kansas, but it could have been worse without him. He’s more mature handling things on and off the field great.

“It’s been awesome. More of a leader.”

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