Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ranking the Purple Power

Though the rankings don't mean anything, still cool to see us ranked above LSU.

Ranking the Purple Power - Bleacher Report

Taking Inventory: Linebackers

It seems as if Jason Phillips and Robert Henson were at TCU forever. When I think back to the time before #39 and #51 were eating the souls of opposing quarterbacks, backs and receivers, I’m pretty sure I didn’t even have armpit hair back then. Both of them were among my favorite Frogs to watch over the course of their careers, and their departure to the NFL means that linebacker is the position hurt most by graduation heading into this season.

While losing those guys definitely hurts, it does mean that the spotlight is now available for senior Daryl Washington, who just might be the best athlete on the team. He had 63 tackles a year ago- good for 4th on the team- 5.5 of which were for a loss to go along with 3 sacks and one interception. He also made one of the most important plays of the year in the Poinsettia Bowl when Boise State completed a long pass down the left sideline and he used a great angle and his superior speed to get to BSU's Vinny Paretta just in time to shove him so that left foot grazed the boundary, saving what would’ve easily been a touchdown that could’ve tilted the game in favor of the Broncos. Next spring, he ought to be joining Jerry Hughes as an early-round draft pick.

At the other starting spot in the Frogs’ 4-2-5 scheme should be sophomore Tank Carder. He played a lot on special teams last year (he was part of the mob of Frogs that blocked a punt at New Mexico) and a little bit on defense toward the latter part of last year, totalling 9 tackles and a pass broken up. He is quite the versatile athlete- as a kid, he was a champion BMX rider and played six different positions as a senior in high school.

The Frogs nearly always have an unofficial “third starter” at LB. It was Henson for three years behind Phillips and David Hawthorne, and was Washington last year. This year, that role will likely go to either true freshman Tanner Brock or sophomore Kris Gardner. Brock was a tackling machine at Copperas Cove, where he was 1st Team All-State three times. He graduated early, had a very impressive spring and is the surest bet to play as a true freshman this fall. Gardner, the nephew of linebackers coach Tony Tademy, was mostly a special teams player last year as a redshirt freshman but worked himself into the defensive rotation in a few games after having played tight end during his first year on campus. Greg Burks, a redshirt freshman from the Houston area, will also add depth and most likely contribute on special teams. Burks had a fantastic high school career at Spring Woods, but at 210 lbs has not put on as much weight as you’d like to see on your linebackers. But then again, LaMarcus McDonald was an All-American playing at about 210-215, so you never know.

On top of Brock, TCU adds two more talented freshmen this year: Kenny Cain and Justin Isadore. Cain was a four-year letterman and two-way star at Lousiana powerhouse River Ridge, and was the MVP of the 2A state title game as a senior as well as a member of the state championship 4x100 relay team. Isadore was a two-time All-Southeast Texas performer at Ozen High in Beaumont (so you know he's crazy), and was rated as the 23rd-best inside linebacker in the nation by Rivals. I wouldn’t be shocked to see one of these guys burn his redshirt and play as a true freshman this fall...I also wouldn't be shocked to see one of them eventually shift

Two more linebackers are committed to play for TCU starting next year, but as I mentioned in the D-line write up, Blake Roberts looks like he’ll end up at DE. Marcus Mallet out of Cleveland (Texas) is the other, and as you can tell, he’s perfectly named to play linebacker for such a destructive defense. Both of these guys live up to the expectation of what you would think TCU would be recruiting at linebacker after having so much success at the position for so long.

Up Next: Defensive Backs

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