TCU football has perhaps had one of the most surprising seasons in recent history. After starting the year unranked, the team went undefeated in the regular season and placed as a contender for the College Football Playoffs. Even with a loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game, TCU made it 3rd in the CFP. The Horned Frogs would advance to the National Championship Game with a win over Michigan, only to lose the title to the Georgia Bulldogs.
Still, TCU’s season was one for the history books. However, success in 2022 will come at a price. Many key players have signed up for the 2023 NFL Draft and will be leaving the program. Most notably, wide receiver Quentin Johnston will likely be a first-round pick. Quarterback Max Duggan also declared for the draft, although he still had years in his eligibility.
Because of this, the Horned Frogs have many areas to address for the upcoming season. The team’s new additions will have big shoes to fill, so the Recruitment class must conform to the new standards of TCU football programs.
With that in mind, here’s the biggest recruitment need for the TCU Horned Frogs ahead of National Signing Day on February 1st.
It’s no secret that Max Duggan was instrumental in the rise of the Horned Frogs in 2022. The quarterback emerged as one of the top varsity players that season, earning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and the Davey O’Brien Award. Most notably, he was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, finishing second to USC’s Caleb Williams.
Duggan completed 63.7% of his passes for 3,698 yards and 32 touchdowns against eight picks. He also had 423 rushing yards for nine points on the floor. Prior to the CFP, he led the conference in passing efficiency (165.5), touchdown passes, passing yards, yards per try (9.0), and yards per completion (13.9).
With Duggan turning pro, TCU will have a big gap in their roster. The senior was responsible for many points on offense, whether from the air or on the ground.
Because of this, TCU should focus on getting a new quarterback. Even if this new player doesn’t start in 2023, the team still needs to prepare for the future.
TCU Football is reportedly interested in quarterback Jaden Rashada for his 2023 recruit class. Rashada is a five-star player who has schools like Florida, Miami (FL) and Texas A&M on his radar. Signing him would give TCU their quarterback going forward immediately after Duggan’s departure. This would allow the team to build around him and return to CFP competition sooner than expected.
Another unit suffering major casualties for the 2023 season is the offensive line. TCU loses three of its top interior designers, which could seriously hurt the team going forward. Center Alan Ali and right guard Wes Harris have exhausted their eligibility to play.
Most importantly, left guard Steve Avila will enter his name in the 2023 NFL Draft. Avila was an NCAA consensus All-American. He also received a first-team All-Big 12 selection and an honorable mention as Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year.
With Avila at the helm of the unit, TCU was one of only two teams in the country to average at least 270 passing yards per game, 200 rushing and at least 30 passing and 30 rushing touchdowns, not counting bowl season. Avila himself didn’t allow a single sack in 477 pass-blocking snaps prior to the CFP.
Without the trio, the Horned Frogs should pursue more offensive linemen. With a new quarterback on the way, TCU should also focus on how to protect him with new bodies.
line of defense
TCU should also keep an eye on their line of defense. The team may lose defender Dylan Horton, who had a total of 48 tackles, four pass deflections and 10 sacks. Linebacker Dee Winters could also sign up for the draft soon. Winters had 79 total tackles and 7.5 sacks plus a pick six.
Despite the success of the 2022 season, TCU’s defense still had its issues. The team allowed opponents to score at least 30 points on six occasions. These include losing to the Kansas State Wildcats in the Big 12 Championship Game and losing 65-7 to the Georgia Bulldogs in the CFP Finals.
With the potential departures of Horton and Winters, as well as what the unit presented in the big games of the 2022 season, the Horned Frogs should consider improving their defense.
TCU has already secured four safeties (plus a four-star commitment that didn’t sign a National Letter of Intent) and three cornerbacks as of early signing day. However, the Horned Frogs’ 2023 recruit class only includes three defenders.
As National Signing Day approaches, TCU football should focus on improving its defense in general, with a particular focus on the defensive line. Should that happen, the Horned Frogs could be better prepared for big schools like Georgia in the future.