TCU Football had perhaps one of the most surprising seasons in recent history. After starting the year unranked, the team went undefeated in the regular season, placing itself as a College Football Playoff contender. Even with a loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship Game, TCU made it to the CFP at No. 3. 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, its 2022 success will come with a price. Many key players have declared for the 2023 NFL Draft and will leave the program. Most notably, wide receiver Quentin Johnston will likely be a first-round pick. Also, quarterback Max Duggan declared for the draft despite having years left in his eligibility.
Because of that, the Horned Frogs need to address many areas for the upcoming season. The team’s new additions will have big shoes to fill, so the recruiting class needs to be up to TCU football programs new standards.
With that being said, here are the biggest recruiting needs for the TCU Horned Frogs before National Signing Day on Feb. 1.
There is no secret that Max Duggan was crucial for the Horned Frogs’ rise in 2022. The quarterback emerged as one of the best college players this season, earning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year honors 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 scores on the ground. Prior to the CFP, he led the conference in passing efficiency (165.5), touchdown passes, passing yards, yards per attempt (9.0), and yards per completion (13.9).
With Duggan turning pro, TCU will have a big void in its roster. The senior was responsible for many points on offense, whether it was through the air or on the ground.
Because of that, TCU should focus on bringing in a new quarterback. Even if this new player does not start in 2023, the team needs to prepare for the future.
TCU football is reportedly interested in quarterback Jaden Rashada for their 2023 recruiting class. Rashada is a five-star player who has schools such as Florida, Miami (FL) and Texas A&M on his radar. Signing him would give TCU its quarterback for the future immediately after Duggan’s departure. This would allow the team to build around him and return to CFP contention sooner than expected.
Another unit that is suffering key losses for the 2023 season is the offensive line. TCU is losing three of its best interior linemen, which could seriously hurt the team in the future. Center Alan Ali and right guard Wes Harris have exhausted their eligibility.
Most importantly, left guard Steve Avila is set to enter his name in the 2023 NFL Draft. Avila was a consensus All-American player by the NCAA. He also earned a First-Team All-Big 12 selection and an honorable mention for Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year.
With Avila leading the unit, TCU was one of only two teams in the nation averaging at least 270 passing yards per game, 200 rushing and having at least 30 passing and 30 rushing touchdowns, not counting the bowl season. Avila himself did not allow a single sack in 477 pass-blocking snaps prior to the CFP.
Without the trio, the Horned Frogs should go after more offensive linemen. With a new quarterback on its way, TCU should also focus on how to protect him with new bodies.
TCU should also keep an eye on its defensive line. The team will potentially lose defensive lineman Dylan Horton, who had 48 total tackles, four pass deflections and 10 sacks. Also, linebacker Dee Winters could be declaring for the draft soon. Winters had 79 total tackles and 7.5 sacks plus a pick-six.
Despite the success in the 2022 season, TCU’s defense still had its struggles. The team allowed opponents to score at least 30 points in six opportunities. That includes the loss to the Kansas State Wildcats in the Big 12 Championship Game and the 65-7 blowout defeat to the Georgia Bulldogs in the CFP final.
With the potential departure of Horton and Winters, as well as what the unit presented in big games of the 2022 season, the Horned Frogs should consider improving its defense.
TCU already secured four safeties (plus a four-star commitment who did not sign a National Letter of Intent) and three cornerbacks on Early Signing Day. However, the Horned Frogs’ 2023 recruiting class only includes three defensive linemen.
As National Signing Day approaches, TCU football should focus on improving its defense in general with special attention to the defensive line. Should that happen, the Horned Frogs could be more prepared for big schools such as Georgia in the future.