As TCU approaches its season opener vs. Colorado on Sept. 2, it’s time for the Horned Frogs to finally declare winners from numerous position battles.
TCU will likely release its first depth chart of the season on Tuesday or Wednesday next week, but why wait? To get you ready for game week, I’ll try my best to predict how next week’s depth chart could look against the Buffaloes.
Many of the positions, especially on defense, have been settled with groups that consistently ran with the first team during training camp. The offensive side of the ball could be trickier, especially at wide receiver and the offensive line due to increased depth across the unit.
Here’s how things could shape out for TCU’s depth chart next week:
Projected order: Chandler Morris, Josh Hoover, Grant Tisdale
Morris has been given the keys to Kendal Briles’ new offense and will have his chance to be the undisputed starter. The staff has increased confidence in what Hoover can do in the event he’s thrust into game action and feels like he took a leap in the off-season.
Projected order: Emani Bailey, Trey Sanders, Corey Wren, Trent Battle
Sonny Dykes said earlier this week that Bailey has been the most consistent running back in camp and was beginning to emerge as the guy. Sanders has dealt with a few nagging injuries, but the former five-star recruit is set for the biggest role he’s had in college. Wren had a strong fall camp and may have passed Battle in the rotation.
X receiver projected order: Savion Williams, Jaylon Robinson, DJ Allen, Chase Jackson
Z receiver projected order: Warren Thompson, Cordale Russell, Dylan Wright, Blake Nowell
Slot receiver projected order: JP Richardson, JoJo Earle, Jack Bech, Major Everhart,
The X receiver is typically a team’s No. 1 option and that’ll be Williams’ role after having 392 yards and four touchdowns in 2022. Robinson, nicknamed the Flash, has game-breaking speed and could play all over.
The Z receiver is the other outside receiver position and Thompson ran with the first team all camp. The Arkansas transfer knows Briles’ system well which allowed him to hit the ground running. Russell has the most upside at the position and could be a future X. Wright arrived to training camp and then suffered a lower body injury that kept him out of three or four practices. He may be the eventual starter, but probably needs more time.
Richardson has a chance to lead TCU in catches and yards in a system that fits his skillset. Earle, another Alabama transfer, has electric speed and Everhart is one of the shiftiest players on the team. Bech is a name to watch, he’s lined up all over the offense and could play either the slot or the Y (receiving tight end) in a two tight end set.
Projected order: Jared Wiley, Chase Curtis, D’Andre Rogers, Lafayette Kaiuway
Wiley has a chance to be an All-Big 12 tight end and will be one of TCU’s top redzone targets. Curtis had an impressive run of practices during training camp, seemingly having a catch or two every day while also showing value as a blocker. Rogers had a good spring and may be the most athletic in the room, but it may not have been enough to fend off Curtis.
Projected right tackle order: Mike Nichols, Tommy Brockermeyer, Mike Stoker
Projected right guard order: Willis Patrick, Jasper Lott
Projected center order: Coltin Deery, John Lanz, Ezra Dotson-Oyetade
Projected left guard order: Brandon Coleman, Ben Taylor-Whitfield, Garrett Hayes
Projected left tackle order: Andrew Coker, Quinton Harris, Marcus Williams
The offensive line is easily the hardest position group to guess. Mainly because Coker could swing back to his usual position of right tackle while Coleman would go back to left tackle. That could throw a wrench into this prediction, but for now it seems like the Coker-Coleman combo on the left side is something the staff wants to see in game.
Lanz missed most of training camp, only returning last week while Deery has been solid at center since transferring in. Patrick and Nichols have been mainstays on the right side. Behind them Whitfield, Lanz and Lott seem the most likely to be the first ones off the bench.
Projected strong side defensive end order: Caleb Fox, Rick D’Abreu, Avion Carter
Projected defensive tackle order: Damonic Williams, Tymon Mitchell, Markis Deal
Projected weak side defensive end order: Paul Oyewale, Michael Ibukun-Okeyode, Zachary Chapman
Another area where TCU expects to be deeper is up front led by Williams, who was a freshmen All-American last season. Fox gets a bigger role after being a key reserve and Oyewale’s upside is immense, Williams even said he could be better than Dylan Horton who had 10 sacks in 2022.
Mitchell is a swing piece that can back up Williams or Fox if need be. D’Abreu’s motor stood out as camp progressed. Carter, Deal and Chapman are all freshmen that have impressed and also taken advantage of some injuries. Tico Brown, Soni Misi and Connor Lingren all missed big chunks of camp and could reshuffle the order if they’re deemed healthy next week.
Projected weakside linebacker order: Johnny Hodges, Jonathan Bax, Max Carroll
Projected middle linebacker order: Jamoi Hodge, Shad Banks, Terrence Cooks Jr.
Projected STAR order: Namdi Obiazor, Zach Marcheselli, Marcel Brooks
Hodges and Hodge return after combining for over 160 tackles in 2022. They’re the heart of the defense and give TCU physicality in the box. Obiazor moved down from safety to replace Dee Winters in the crucial pass rushing position of the 3-3-5 defense. He’s been impressive since making the transition.
Banks was the top reserve a season ago while Bax was a freshman that instantly inserted himself into the two deep when he arrived on campus. Marcheselli was a bit of a pleasant surprise during training camp while Carroll had flashes before sustaining an injury. Brooks is also still working back from the injury that kept him out of last season.
Projected CB1 order: Josh Newton, Channing Canada, Jaionte McMillan
Projected CB2 order: Avery Helm, Mason White, Champ Lewis, Vernon Glover
Newton was voted a preseason All-American and is one of the top players at his position. Helm seized the starting job after transferring in from Florida. Canada and White were two highly rated junior college prospects that have provided depth along with McMillan. TCU wants to rotate at least five corners with room for a sixth to get into the mix.
Projected Nickel safety order: Josh Foster, Millard Bradford, Randon Fontenette
Projected free safety order: Bud Clark, Abe Camara, Jordan Lester, Javeon Wilcox
Projected strong safety order: Mark Perry, Chace Biddle, Jamel Johnson
If healthy, the safety group could be one of TCU’s strongest with all three starters returning in Clark, Perry and Bradford. Foster was key reserve last year and ran with the first-team most of training camp over Bradford. He could start, but don’t be surprised if it’s Bradford that finishes the game.
Clark missed a few practices last week, but is expected to be available. Camara started multiple games last year and is one of the team’s hardest hitters. The rest of the room is young yet talented. Fontenette, Lester, Wilcox and Biddle were all four-star prospects coming out of high school. The lot is learning, but has shown promise.
Kicker projected order: Griffin Kell, Luke Laminack
Punter projected order: Jordy Sandy, Easton Black
Punt returner projected order: JoJo Earle
Projected kick returner order: Major Everhart
TCU should be more than solid in the kicking game with Kell and Sandy back for another year. Earle will have the daunting task of replacing Derius Davis, but has the speed and agility to be productive. Everhart at kick return is just another way the staff is trying to get the ball in his hands.