TCU’s five junior college recruits following in successful footsteps

Former TCU defensive end Mike Tuaua came to the Horned Frogs from Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College.
Former TCU defensive end Mike Tuaua came to the Horned Frogs from Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College. Star-Telegram

TCU football’s 2016 signing class won’t look nearly as green as most have under coach Gary Patterson.

Five of the 20 players committed to play at TCU are coming from the junior college ranks, a number that is unprecedented in Patterson’s tenure at TCU.

“We’re not big into that,” Patterson said after a practice leading up to the Alamo Bowl. “We have so many young players, with 30 freshmen, it’s good for us to go out and find an older guy, especially being able to come in the spring.”

Four of the five are enrolled in spring classes and will participate in spring ball. Linebacker Linebacker Tyree Horton will join the team in the summer.

While a signing class with that many junior college players is uncommon for Patterson, TCU’s recent history with them has been successful.

Since 2006, 24 junior college players have joined the TCU program. A third of them have come from two programs — Tyler Junior College and Santa Rosa (Calif.) Junior College — both of which have run Patterson’s 4-2-5 defense and have ties to the TCU coaching staff.

Tyler Junior College coach Danny Palmer coached at Houston with former TCU defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas, where Palmer initially learned the 4-2-5 defense.

TCU offensive line coach Jarrett Anderson played at Tyler Junior College before transferring to New Mexico in 1992. He also coached at Tyler in 1997.

“They really do a good job with not a five-star guy,” Palmer said. “They look at a kid and say, ‘Does he fit our program?’ and they go get him and they are really good at making them better. Gary Patterson is probably the best coach in the nation at making his kids better.”

Since 2002, TJC has sent safety Kenny Iloka, offensive guard Frank Kee, cornerback Jason Teague, receiver Alonzo Adams and cornerback Quincy Butler to TCU.

Santa Rosa defensive coordinator Lenny Wagner has coached all three players Patterson has recruited from there: defensive end Mike Tuaua, cornerback Jason Verrett and cornerback Mike Salvage.

He also ran the 4-2-5 after playing for and coaching under Patterson at Sanoma State in the early 1990s.

“In the case of the guys that went to TCU, those were guys that took one recruiting trip,” Wagner said. “They were guys that I handpicked that I thought would fit Coach Patterson’s mentality and would be successful players for him.”

The qualities Wagner looks for in a player before dialing the TCU coaching staff? A high football IQ, good character player and someone who can quickly adapt to coaching and schemes.

Both Tuaua and Verrett demonstrated all of those qualities after their first season at Santa Rosa and signed with TCU for the final three years of their eligibility.

“The Pac-12 schools get [upset] every time one of these freshmen get away from them though,” Wagner said with a laugh.

While none of TCU’s 2016 junior college recruits come from either school, they have picked from the best the junior college ranks have to offer.

Both wide receiver Taj Williams and Horton are the No.1 ranked junior players at their positions, according to

Defensive end Mat Bosen and safety Markell Simmons are both ranked in the top five at their positions by

“You’re talking about the No. 1 JUCO wide receiver in the country and the No. 1 linebacker in the country,” Jeremy Clark of said. “That isn’t something I’ve ever seen them accomplish in my 11 or 12 years covering the team. They’ve always got some pretty good players, but for them to go out there and land that kind of quality at the JUCO level is pretty big.”

Travis L. Brown:, @Travis_L_Brown.

TCU 2016 junior college recruits

DE Mat Bosen: Long Beach C.C.

OL Chris Gaynor: Dodge City (Kan.) C.C.

LB Tyree Horton: Highland (Kan.) C.C.

DB Markell Simmons: Pima (Ariz.) C.C.

WR Taj Williams: Iowa Western C.C.

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