The TCU Horned Frogs have been a national power the past two seasons and head coach Gary Patterson has done a terrific job in building the TCU football program in his 15 years as head coach. But with losses of several standout players from previous seasons, Patterson and the rest of the Horned Frogs’ coaching staff will be looking for viable replacements to compliment the returning talent this coming season. Let’s take a look at the four most important players for TCU heading into the 2016 season.
Kenny Hill (6-1, 205, Jr) and Foster Sawyer (6-5, 230, So)
As of the time this article was published, TCU has yet to announce its starting quarterback for the 2016 season. So the two leading candidates in Kenny Hill and Foster Sawyer both make appearances in this article. Despite not naming a starting quarterback yet, it’s believed by most that the Hill, the former Texas A&M standout, will being the Horned Frogs’ starting signal caller this season. Hill had a tumultuous stint with A&M, but his upside could not be denied. After taking over for Johnny Manziel in the 2014 season at quarterback for the Aggies, Hill impressed right out of the gates and caught the country by storm. In only eight games during the 2014 season, Hill finished with 2,649 passing yards, 23 touchdowns to only eight interceptions, a 66.7 percent completion percentage and 156 yards rushing. That tumultuous Aggies career as mentioned previously led Hill to transfer to TCU where he had to sit out the 2015 season. Foster is the other possibility for the Horned Frogs’ starting quarterback and he has impressed so far during the offseason. In very limited playing time in 2015, Sawyer finished his freshman season with 155 passing yards, two touchdowns with three interceptions and 53 yards rushing behind star quarterback Trevone Boykin. Despite Hill appearing to be the frontrunner, you can’t count out Sawyer quite yet as he has impressed coaches leading up to the 2016 season. Whoever wins the starting quarterback job will undoubtedly carry heavy significance this season in TCU’s attempt at replacing Boykin and competing for a Big 12 Championship.
John Diarse (6-1, 209, Jr)
Much like the quarterback position, TCU will be looking to replace a superstar wide receiver as well with the departure of its all-time leading receiver in Josh Doctson. One of the prime candidates in replacing Doctson’s production is LSU transfer John Diarse. Diarse joins the Horned Frogs after two seasons at LSU and heads into the 2016 season as a player that could surprise people in an emphatic way. In two years playing with the Tigers, Diarse accounted for 28 total receptions for 412 yards and three touchdowns in only 14 total games. After graduating from LSU in only three years, Diarse joins the Horned Frogs and will be eligible for two seasons. Diarse was a highly-touted wide receiver out of high school in 2013 and was considered to be the 22nd ranked wide receiver prospect in the country by 247 Sports. With Kenny Hill possibly throwing him the football this season, that duo could become one of the best in the entire country and help TCU contend for a College Football Playoff appearance.
Travin Howard (6-1, 210, Jr)
You could make the argument that a player without a career tackle heading into the 2015 season is now TCU’s best defensive player heading into the 2016 season. Former safety Travin Howard exploded onto the scene last season with a spectacular season that not many saw coming. Howard’s move to the linebacker position in 2015 saw immediate success and he developed into a major force for the Horned Frogs’ defense. Howard finished the 2015 season leading the team in total tackles with 107 as well as 9 ½ tackles for loss, three sacks, one interception and three forced fumbles while being named a Big 12 All-Conference Honorable Mention as well as the Alamo Bowl Defensive MVP. Heading into the 2016 season, Howard won’t be sneaking up on anyone anymore and will be a player that opposing offenses will have to game plan around. Expect the junior to put up huge numbers once again this season and his importance to the TCU team is undeniable.
Ranthony Texada (5-10, 170, Jr)
Ranthony Texada will look to bounce back from a season-ending injury in 2015 that limited him to only three games played. The talented cornerback returns in 2016 healthy and ready to pick up where he left off during the 2014 season. Texada’s freshman season in 2014 saw the corner rack up 31 total tackles, 3 ½ tackles for loss, one sack, one interception and seven pass breakups. His breakout season in 2014 earned Texada a Scout.com Second-Team Freshman All-American honor. An injury limited Texada to only seven total tackles and one tackle for loss during the 2015 season. The Horned Frogs will need Texada to produce as he did in 2014 and now back healthy, expect nothing less. The junior cornerback is an essential part of TCU’s defense this season and will be leaned on heavily. Expect a career season for Texada in 2016.