Thursday, July 28, 2011

Taking Inventory: Safeties

Because they each have so much on-field responsibility and because there are three of them in a 4-2-5 defense, safety is the most important position for the TCU football team. Unfortunately, it's also one of the positions that was hardest hit by graduation. All-American Tejay Johnson, NFL draftee Colin Jones, Alex Ibiloye and super walk-on Tyler Lutrell all exhausted their eligibility at the end of the 2010 season, and up & coming star Jurrell Thompson was dismissed from the team after repeated rules violations.

One of the signs of a healthy football program is seniors stepping up year after year. Filling the leadership void in the defensive secondary this fall will be seniors Tekerrein Cuba and Johnny Fobbs. Cuba is by far the most experience returning safety, having started nine games in three years- including six in 2010 when he was fifth on the team in tackles. He'll handle starting duties at weak safety this fall. Fobbs is pencilled in as the starter at free safety, where he'll be replacing Johnson as the QB of the defense. He's played sparingly in 32 games over his first three years, but being able to watch Tejay all those years will likely pay off in his understanding of the game.

That's where the experience runs out- but luckily, not the talent. At strong safety, sophomore Trent Thomas- who played in just three games last year- is currently #1 on the depth chart. Pushing him for that job is redshirt freshman Sam Carter, a sensational athlete who spent last year as a quarterback.

Both of the senior starters will have very capable young backups. Sophomore Elisha Olabode will be Fobbs' understudy at free safety after playing cornerback last year as a true freshman. Hard-hitting redshirt freshman Jonathan Anderson, whom the coaches have apparently raved about since the minute he stepped foot on campus, will back up Cuba at weak safety.

Junior Chris Scott, who came to TCU as a highly-regarded recruit but has had injury problems in his first few years, could contribute if he can stay healthy. Along with him, a group of walk-ons (most notably former Aledo star Danny Heiss and former Kansas Mr. Football and converted QB Rick Settle) will attempt to hold off a talented bunch of true freshmen who will no doubt be looking to get on the field straight away:

-Chris Hackett, a ball-hawker who picked off 12 passes, broke up 12 more and forced 4 fumbles on his way to and Parade Magazine All-American honors as a senior at Tyler John Tyler.

-Jamie Byrd, a hard-hitter from Florida who led his team in tackles two years in a row and spurned Boise State to come to TCU.

-Quincy Aldridge, who has NFL and MLB athletes in his immediate family and lettered four times at Whitehouse HS (Luke Shivers' alma mater). Turned down Notre Dame to come to TCU.

-James Bailey, a local kid who did just about everything at Everman HS. He had scholarship offers from Big 12 and Pac 10 teams, and once he focuses on one position he'll do well quickly.

How do you see things shaking out at safety for the Frogs this year? Will the current starting lineup of Cuba, Fobbs and Thomas indeed be the starting trio against Baylor...and what about at the end of the year? Which of the younger guys on the two-deep will make the biggest impact this year? Who's the next NFL prospect safety from TCU? Which of the true freshmen (if any) will play this fall?


shortnkerley's said...

I think Olabode could take that job from Fobbs if he can indeed learn to "quarterback" the defense. He impressed me as a nickel back last year and now if he can learn safety, he'll be a stud. I remember watching Trent Thomas his freshman year during preseason practice and he lit some people up, but it'll be interesting to see if he can hold off the talent behind him. I look forward to watching the safety battles during the preseason more than anything else. There is a lot of talent here.

dallasfrog said...

What about graves. Is he WR now?