TCU Insider: Newcomers continue to impress in spring practice
Spring practice No. 6 is in the books for TCU and the Horned Frogs are starting to find their footing with new faces emerging to replace stars from last year.
Coach Sonny Dykes was pleased with the continued effort he’s seen from his team as TCU approaches the midway point of spring practice.
“I thought the guys were pretty consistent and competed hard,” Dykes said. “There are some small corrections we have to make, but I think we’re starting to get comfortable and more dialed in. Guys that have made position changes are getting a little more settled. I feel good about where we are today.”
Among notable position changes is Damonic Williams shifting from nose tackle to left end along with John Lanz taking over at center. Namdi Obiazor had good moments at safety last season, but is working with the linebackers in the spring adding to the depth.
Outside of position changes, Dykes and the rest of the staff have been thrilled with what they’ve seen from their transfer class and the early enrolled high school recruits.
“We went through the 19 newcomers as a staff the other day — Jack Bech and Jaylon Robinson haven’t been able to practice much, but the other 17 guys that have been here practicing, I think we’ve all been pretty pleased with those guys,” Dykes said.
Here are some more quick observations from Wednesday’s practice:
Offensive skill positions
TCU has a lot to replace at receiver and running back, but there seems to be ample talent waiting in the wings. Let’s start at running back where Alabama transfer Trey Sanders had a solid day. He caught a wheel route for a touchdown during the redzone and worked a lot with the first team offense.
Emani Bailey continued to flash his explosiveness with a number of good runs. Bailey might be TCU’s best pass-catching back. Trent Battle had a nice run during the opening 11-on-11 portion of practice. It’s a tight battle right now and with all three having contrasting styles, TCU could lean heavily on a three-man rotation.
At wide receiver Jordan Hudson had the most impressive catches lined up at the X-receiver position. Oklahoma State transfer John Paul Richardson was also solid and earned plenty of positive reviews for the work he has put in this spring.
Another name to watch is freshman Jordyn Bailey. The former Denton Ryan star is shifty in space and had a moment where he broke a defender’s ankles during 7-on-7. DJ Allen also caught a number of big passes and is coming along nicely after being hurt last season.
Cornerback depth improving?
Dykes mentioned the cornerback group as one that’s caught his eye due to having more bodies to depend on. While All-Big 12 cornerback Josh Newton missed Wednesday’s practice, the defensive secondary out-performed the offense.
Florida transfer Avery Helm’s physicality was impressive and junior college transfer Channing Canada looks the part of a potential starting corner. Mason White is another corner that had a solid practice, the key for White will be continuing to add weight ahead of fall camp.
“We didn’t have a lot of depth last year,” Dykes said. “I think there’s going to be great competition to see who two, three, four, five and even six deep at that position. At times last year we were two deep, I’ve been impressed with the newcomers and the guys a year better.
Watch out for Bax
It’s hard to miss freshman linebacker Jonathan Bax when he’s on the field. Listed at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, Bax is already one of TCU’s bigger linebackers.
He holds the weight well and moves much lighter than you would expect. Bax went a bit under the radar due to the impressive transfer class TCU brought in, but he’s another newcomer that could find his way to the playing field early.
The starting group of Johnny Hodges, Jamoi Hodge and Shadrach Banks seems set, but the spots after them are up for grabs. Remember Thomas Armstrong, Marcel Brooks and Terrence Cooks Jr. all missed significant action last year.
As they work their way back through rehab, Bax has an opportunity to make up a lot of ground. Keep an eye on him as the spring progresses.