WR/DB Taye Barber
Photo via Melissa Triebwasser, TexasHSFootball.com

 

The surprise of spring in Fort Worth was the insertion of Shawn Robinson (DeSoto) as the back up to Kenny Hill on the depth chart, giving the early-enrollee true freshman the inside track at the number two job when fall camp opens later this year. Robinson, who was widely believed to be a redshirt candidate, looks more likely to play in year one than ever. Let’s take a look at the questions surrounding the most important position in football, the TCU quarterbacks.

1. Will Kenny Hill start game one?

This is an unequivocal yes, in my opinion. Robinson is clearly being given every opportunity to succeed based off of what we saw this spring – he took most of the reps with the twos during camp and had more than double the pass attempts of any Horned Frog QB during their spring game last month. Someone on the TCU staff believes in the talented signal caller from just down the road of Fort Worth, likely his primary recruiter and new play-caller Sonny Cumbie.

But, he hasn’t shown enough to take the starting gig away from incumbent, and rising senior, Kenny Hill (Southlake). Hill has also been honing his craft, spending his spring break with noted QB guru George Whitfield as well as a handful of other big time college QBs. Now approaching his third year in TCU’s Air Raid offense, Hill will be the more prepared player when September rolls around, even if Robinson continues to grow at a rapid pace. Hill is being counted on to use his athleticism more in 2017, and the playbook appears to be moving to a more balanced style with the Frogs sporting a loaded backfield. He will be ready for Jackson State, but will he be able to fend off Robinson throughout the season?

2. Will Shawn Robinson redshirt in 2017?

This is the biggest question surrounding the TCU Football program this off-season, and the answer may be a long way from being revealed. While Robinson was given ample opportunities to showcase his ability in the spring game, he failed to overwhelm – completing just 10/22 passes for 90 yards, one touchdown, and an interception that appeared to be nearly thrown to the defense on purpose. He obviously has two things that can’t be taught: the “it” factor that the great ones possess, and a natural athleticism that separates him from the field.

That being said, the things that were expected to be weaknesses were proven to be just that: he struggled with his accuracy, especially on intermediate routes, and is still learning how much juice to put behind his rocket arm. Robinson has a chance to be really, really good, but his best path to that point may be a year out of the spotlight. Ultimately, unless Kenny Hill suffers a significant injury, expect Robinson to spend the season on the bench and in the playbook. Patterson has a veteran team on both sides of the ball, and won’t risk a true freshman over an established senior unless he has no choice.

3. Do the Frogs have an option behind Hill if he does?

The most disappointing thing to Frog fans on the depth chart should have been that none of the most established QBs were able to hold off Robinson for the backup job. With redshirt junior Grayson Muehlstein (Decatur) and redshirt freshmen Brennan Wooten (Central) and Jordan Kitna (Waxahachie) all with more than a year on campus and in the system, it was surprising to see them all beat out by a freshman with just a couple months and 15 practices under his belt. Gary Patterson has often used his spring depth chart as a wakeup call, and that could certainly be the case this year. Muehlstein has always been a promising player – big, athletic, and with a plus arm, he has never thrown a collegiate pass but was expected to be the heir apparent to departed backup Foster Sawyer (Fort Worth All Saints). Wooten was an early-enrollee last year, and is known as a true student of the game with an above average football IQ. While he may not have the overly impressive physical tools of his competitors, he has been favorably compared to former Frog Andy Dalton (Katy), who had an exceptional career in Fort Worth and has made a lot of money as the Bengals’ starter since being drafted. Kitna, the son of former pro Jon Kitna, plays like a coach’s kid – in the best possible sense – and is beloved by the offensive coaching staff for his savvy and work ethic. Assuming that Robinson does indeed redshirt – still a big if, of course – expect Muehlstein to be QB2 for Jackson State. But don’t be surprised if Wooten or Kitna press him for the role over the course of the opening weeks of the season.

 

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