TCU played their annual spring game Saturday morning, and like most spring games, it was a sloppy, low scoring affair. But there were a few players who stood out and made a positive impression in their time on the field. Here are five guys that could be in for big roles this fall.
- Remember the name Innis Gaines (West Brook High School). The TCU safety was all over the field Saturday morning, bursting through the line and putting pressure on whichever QB he lined up against. Listed at safety, Gaines looked BIG Saturday afternoon, but still had the explosiveness of the line of a typical secondary player. Patterson’s D is at its best when he has the type of player that can line up as a safety and play the line as well as blitz effectively out of the slot. Gaines could be that guy in 2017.
- Isaiah Graham (Bastrop High School) looked like the superstar he was billed as heading into his true freshman season. After struggling at the beginning of the year with drops and inconsistent route-running, Graham was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing bowl game for the Horned Frogs, and finished the year with just six receptions for 68 yards. But he had an impressive Saturday in an otherwise flaccid affair for the TCU offense, making a couple of impressive grabs with contact and breaking free in space on multiple occasions – only to have the slough of TCU QBs Patterson trotted out miss him – but did score the only TD of the game. Regardless, Graham could have a big year in the new look offense under Sonny Cumbie.
- KaVontae Turpin (Neville High School) appears to be back to his ankle-breaking self, after struggling with injuries in 2016 and missing most of spring ball due to academic issues. But he housed the opening kickoff – with little resistance after breaking free, mind you – and looked dynamic in running his routes and making cuts in traffic. A healthy Turpin not only changes the look of the offense, but turns TCU’s special teams unit into one of the most dangerous in the Big 12. Getting him back to his freshman form is worth at least one win for the Horned Frogs.
- One of the biggest areas of concern for TCU in the coming season is the defensive line, which was the hardest hit unit due to graduation. But the Frogs seem to have found a gem in the form of ULM transfer Ben Banogu (Prosper High School), who made his Frog debut Saturday after sitting out 2016 due to transfer rules. Banogu, who stands 6’4” and weighs in at 257 pounds, was active at the line, tipping passes and getting in the faces of multiple TCU QBs. He seems to fit the bill as a prototype pass-rusher in the Gary Patterson 4-2-5 defense, and could help fill the void on the ends left by the departed James McFarland (West Monroe High School) and Josh Carraway (Marcus High School), who combined for 10 sacks and 14.5 TFL.
- Shawn Robinson (DeSoto High School) took more snaps than any TCU QB Saturday, attempting 22 passes and completing 10 for 90 yards (unofficially) and a touchdown. But he also threw a pair of interceptions, including one that hit the DB right in the chest without a receiver within five yards. Robinson showed solid footwork, stepping up into the pocket well and keeping his eyes downfield when he did break contain. He threw absolute lasers all day, but showed a deft touch as well, but struggled with accuracy and nerves, especially early. There isn’t anything Robinson did that made it appear he didn’t have all the tools necessary to be a star, but his accuracy is far from where it needs to be to be an effective number two behind Kenny Hill in his true freshman season. Robinson will have the summer to improve – and the competition for #2 is wide open, based on what we saw Saturday – but early on, it appears his best path is a redshirt 2017 and the chance to take the reigns a season later.
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