Options abound in TCU quarterback competition
During the search to find Kenny Hill’s replacement as the next Horned Frog quarterback, TCU head coach Gary Patterson has found the position group to be as deep as its ever been.
“Best first two days of spring we’ve had in two years,” Patterson said of his quarterbacks. “All three probably spinning it better the first two days of the spring than we have in two years.”
Shawn Robinson, who played in six of TCU’s thirteen games as a true freshman, including a win in his only start in Lubbock against Texas Tech, is the likely starter Patterson said, but Justin Rogers and Penn transfer Michael Collins have also impressed.
“Shawn Robinson is probably the leading candidate because he’s started a game and won it,” Patterson said. “He’s been here and learned how to manage and prepare for a ball game during the week. The best part about that was I don’t think he understood what to do. You go into Lubbock to play a ball game as the starting quarterback, that’s hard to do. He threw the ball well, missed a couple routes, but found a way to win the ball game.”
The sophomore, a state champion at DeSoto High School, gained what Patterson said is something you can’t teach when he accounted for 169 total yards, 84 of which came on the ground against the Red Raiders, experience.
“I think what he learned out of it was that the preparation is a lot of work and you need to get down,” Patterson said. “You can’t run over everybody even if you’re 220. Everybody has big guys so you have to be able to get down.”
While Collins doesn’t have the name-recognition of Robinson or Rogers, the highest-rated recruit during Patterson’s time in Fort Worth, he could earn the back-up job and stay in the hunt for the top spot until the very end with Rogers’ on the mend, recovering from a knee injury he suffered in high school.
After the conclusion of spring practice number five Thursday and the first full pads practice of the semester, the Ivy League transfer still has a ways to go.
“I only judge quarterbacks in scrimmages and games, so there are days where you’re killing it and some days you’re not,” Patterson said. “Today we worked first down, third down, zone and man blitz, so for a new guy it’s a lot of work. That’s why we push the issue all the time.”
However, whether it’s Robinson, the most likely scenario, Collins, or Rogers, it’ll be a work in progress with the offensive line in front of them losing four of its five starters from a season ago.
“Again, Robinson’s deep in alligators because the thing about running back and quarterback here is your confidence level goes with the experience of your offensive line, and right they’re a work in progress,” Patterson said. “We’re on day five or six, we just need to keep getting better. There are three rotating in at left tackle.”
However, whoever becomes the TCU signal-caller will be lavished with a talented wide receiver group Patterson said with Jaelan Austin and Jalen Reagor at X and Z positions on the outside, Jarrison Stewart inside at the Y position, and KaVontae Turpin and true freshman Taye Barber at H inside the slot.
“We look more explosive at the wide receiver position and at quarterback especially throwing it deep than we have in a couple years.”
Specifically, Barber has drawn a rave reviews early this spring.
“Our off-season hasn’t bothered him at all, the learning process hasn’t bothered him at all, going to school hasn’t bothered him at all,” Patterson said. “He’s one of those guys where you just smile when you talk to him because he’s been a perfect child. What else can you ask for? If everyone did that it would be a lot easier on us.”
Patterson said former TCU receiver and 2017 Alamo Bowl hero Desmond White was fast, but Barber is even faster.
Barber, a graduate of Cypress Springs in Houston, runs a 4.53 40-yard dash while White ran a 4.68 40-yard dash coming out of DeSoto in 2014. Barber, at 5-foot-10, 183 pounds, is four inches taller and 40 pounds stronger than White when he as a true freshman.