Why? Freshman Dee Winters continues to impress during fall camp.
“He does a great job of processing, he does really well,” Patterson said earlier this week. “He’s a lot like Ty Summers was as a [redshirt] freshman, he processes very well on the field. And, he’s not flustered if someone is raising their voice or doing things. He doesn’t get flustered by all of that stuff.”
That’s quite a statement and comparison for Winters. Summers had 86 tackles as a redshirt freshman in 2015 and went on to have a stellar college career.
Patterson tapped the brakes somewhat on the Winters hype later on, saying: “He missed a tackle on Jet [Darius Anderson] on Saturday. He’s got things to do.”
But there’s no question Patterson and the coaching staff like the potential Winters has flashed in fall camp.
This is a kid who joined the program ranked as the No. 40 athlete in the country by 247Sports. Winters, who grew up in the tiny town of Burton, played on both sides of the ball and helped the Panthers to an 11-3 record last season.
Winters, who is listed at 6-foot-1, 192 pounds, played everything from running back, quarterback, receiver, cornerback and safety in his time at Burton, a Class 2A school.
Patterson likes moving players with offensive experience to the defensive side of the ball, and Winters is the latest example of it working out. He’s shown football smarts beyond his years, and seems to have found a home at linebacker.
Patterson joked that Winters being from a small town hasn’t hurt, either. If you drew a line from Austin to Houston, Burton would be near the middle of it.
“That he has country common sense because he’s a country boy? Of course I think they’re a lot smarter,” said Patterson, who grew up in Rozel, Kansas.
Winters could become the first true freshman to start at linebacker for the Frogs since Wilson in 2015.
TCU is also getting sophomore safety La’Kendrick Van Zandt snaps at linebacker of late. Patterson has liked what he’s seen from Van Zandt, one of the most athletic players on the team.
Linebacker may be the position where Van Zandt has the most potential to succeed.
“He looks fantastic too,” Patterson said. “We’ve got a long line of safeties moving into linebackers. La’Kendrick has been doing double-duty at safety [and linebacker].”