Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Ed K Saga - GOAT - Part VI - Center


Now, we’ll take a look at the offense.

With a few notable exceptions – Dutch Meyer’s revolutionary “Meyer Spread,” F.A. Dry’s always-playing-from-behind aerial circus and Jim Wacker’s famous “Veer” -- TCU’s offense has always been secondary to the defense. But from Baugh to Pachall, the Horned Frogs have definitely had their share of firepower, especially in the last half-dozen years.


Quickie quiz: At what position throughout history has TCU ALWAYS been strong? Linebacker? Safety? Quarterback? Try center. TCU’s all-time, top-ten snappers can match up against those from any school in the country.

1 -- Ki Aldrich (’39): Nothing stopped “Ol’ Skinned Beak.” Not a broken nose, broken ribs or torn muscles. Charles “Ki” Aldrich was TOUGH. Consensus All-American on TCU’s 1938 national champions (he was All-American in ’37, too), it’s hard to say whether he was a better center or linebacker. He had no equal at both positions during his playing days. A College Football Hall-of-Famer and a Pro Football Hall-of-Famer, he joined Baugh and O’Brien on Sports Illustrated’s “1930s All-Decade Team.”

2 -- Darrell Lester (’36): Besides being a two-time, consensus All-American at center (and linebacker) and leading the Frogs to their first national championship in 1935, “Iron Man” was the center on the basketball team and a pitcher on the baseball team. No. 22 was team captain, three times All-Southwest Conference and a College Football Hall-of-Famer. Not too shabby.

3- Jake Kirkpatrick (’11): Frog fans were worried in the fall of 2009. How was TCU ever going to replace All-MWC center Blake Schlueter? Two All-American seasons and one Rimington Award (as the nation’s outstanding center) later, they got their answer. Kirkpatrick anchored an offensive line in 2010 that paved the way for the most potent offense in school history. School records: 73 touchdowns, 541 points, 327 first downs and 6,199 yards in total offense. Most amazing? He didn’t commit a penalty or allow a sack for the entire 2010 season. Uh-huh.

4 -- Hugh Pitts (’56): The real question is, what did he NOT do? Enormously talented, Pitts was a two-time, All-SWC selection (1954 and 1955), an All-American in ’55, an Academic All-American, excelled on defense as well as offense for Coach Othol “Abe” Martin, played on one SWC champion and in two Cotton Bowls and was briefly in the NFL.

5 -- WC Nix III (’87): Nix, who also played some guard, was selected All-Southwest Conference during his junior and senior campaigns -- the only TCU player named each season. He was also a two-time, Rogers Trophy winner (1985 and 1986) as team MVP, a feat accomplished by only four other players -- Mike Renfro, LaDainian Tomlinson, Jeff Ballard and Jerry Hughes. Pretty good company.

6 -- Ryan Tucker (’97): Although off-the-field distractions took some of the shine off his college career, the 6-5, 285-pound snapper was nonetheless one of TCU’s greatest centers. Named All-SWC in 1995 and All-WAC in 1996, he played 13 seasons in the NFL with the Rams and Browns.

7 -- Blake Schlueter (’09): A three-year starter and three times All-MWC (first team in ’08), Schlueter was the traffic cop – calling the line’s blocking schemes – on some of TCU’s most potent offenses.

8 -- Chase Johnson (’05): “A pure player,” his offensive line coach, Eddie Williamson, called him. Smart, hard-working and physically talented. A two-time, All-C-USA selection, he helped Robert Merrill and Lonta Hobbs log a ton of yardage.

9-- Barret Robbins (’95): Extremely talented on the football field, Robbins was all-conference as a senior on TCU’s last SWC championship in ‘94. At 6-3, 305 pounds, he was a brick wall in the middle of TCU’s front line, starting every game his last two seasons. He won the Rogers Trophy in 1994. His troubled NFL years are well-documented.

10 -- Keith Flowers (’52): Better known for his play at linebacker, No. 34 was an All-American for the Frogs’ 1951 SWC champions. The 6-0, 210-pounder from Perryton was All-SWC that same year, of course.

Honorable Mention –Dale Walker (’59), Stephen Culp (’06)

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