TCU players interact with fans during “Meet the Frogs”
TCU coach Gary Patterson had plenty of good things to say about his 2019 recruiting class Wednesday.
At the end of the day, Patterson is simply looking to build classes that help TCU win football games and represent the program well off the field.
That starts with recruiting players who will remain committed and loyal to the program. In today’s college football world, the NCAA transfer portal is something that can cripple programs if multiple players bolt.
“I have a new phrase -- portal parents -- staying away from,” Patterson said. “You can already tell if it’s not going the way they need to that they’re going to be changing. It’s kind of like when I interview coaches, I interview their wife. When kids come in, I want to make sure I bring their parents with them.
“[Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson] had a quote, ‘You’ve got to love the process more than the ending.’ The best way for you to win championships is for guys to stay within your program that you build and grow up and do things.”
TCU saw two players -- quarterback Shawn Robinson and running back Kenedy Snell -- enter the portal last season.
Patterson said his program won’t have a full 85 scholarship roster until next December because of it. That’s why there’s even more of an emphasis on finding the right kind of prospects in recruiting these days.
Patterson believes the transfer portal is just going to become bigger in the coming years, too, with it being easier for more and more players to transfer out of schools whether it be for playing time or other reasons.
Patterson remains hopeful more parameters are put in place such as not allowing freshmen to transfer, and things of that nature. For now, his staff is just trying to make sure the recruits are coming to TCU for the right reasons.
The 2019 class is an example of that even if the Frogs had to go outside the state of Texas to find some of those guys.
Quarterback Max Duggan comes from a family where his father was a successful high school coach in Iowa; defensive tackle Karter Johnson comes from a family with strong college football ties in Ohio; linebacker Dylan Jordan is from Pittsburg, Kansas, and his father had been recruited by Patterson when he worked at Pittsburg State in the late 1980s; and wide receiver Mikel Barkley is from a military family based in California.
“To be honest with you, we have more respect outside the state of Texas than we do in,” Patterson said of a class that has almost half the players from out of state (15 from Texas, 14 out of state).
“If you just want to be simple about it. We lose the arms race. … You’re fighting 100 years of history. I’ve been doing that since I’ve got here. That’s fine. I don’t care. If I can go get a guy … Karter Johnson, he chooses here because of the kind of people we are and the way we play defense.
“I don’t care where I have to go get them. I don’t get as much sleep with all the flying everywhere.”
But that doesn’t mean TCU isn’t doing well in Texas. Running back Daimarqua Foster is a Wichita Falls legend with how many yards he rushed for in that town; fellow RB Darwin Barlow, as well as safety Josh Foster, are Newton legends for being stars on back-to-back state championship teams; and Colt Ellison and Wyatt Harris come from the Aledo pipeline.
The list goes on.
As stated, Patterson likes the class and likes the upbringing of each player. He has zero interest in dealing with the NCAA transfer portal more than he has to and zero interest in having players more worried about pro careers than college careers when they’re at school.
“The end all can’t be the NFL,” Patterson said.
That’s why Patterson doesn’t sell prospects solely on the NFL.
Yes, TCU has an impressive lineup of successful NFL players playing today ranging from Andy Dalton to Jerry Hughes to Marcus Cannon, who just won his third Super Bowl with the New England Patriots.
But plenty of five-star prospects coming out of high school don’t reach the NFL. Injuries happen. Productivity dips. Off field issues can derail players’ dreams.
“I don’t try and create that dream,” Patterson said of the NFL. “I tell them how we can get to the dream. If we lose guys because other places create the dream, and some of the places have to do that, we don’t have to do that here. I think that’s why we don’t have as many kids transfer and do things.
“We created that dream for a lot of guys here. The other part of the dream is how do I make them be good people and good men and can they survive if they’re not going to be an NFL player?”