Patterson's role as 'genius' talent evaluator keeps Frogs competitive

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By Eric Nahlin, Inside Texas Recruiting Editor
Posted Nov 19, 2012
Copyright © 2014 InsideTexas.com


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Mansfield safety George Baltimore

What do Tommy Blake, Andy Dalton, Jerry Hughes, Alex Ibiloye, Tank Carder, Ed Wesley, Josh Boyce, Sam Carter, Trevone Boykin, Brandon Carter, Skye Dawson, and BJ Catalon have in common? Yes, all of these players either attended TCU or currently do so. More interesting to me, all three were rated as three stars or less. These guys, along with countless others, have provided Gary Patterson with both headliners and the foundation for competitive and winning football.

 

Though it's nearly a defining part of my job, rating players is often way overblown. Well, rating them isn't overblown, fans want to know what type of players their team is adding, but the star rating system itself is an overhyped tool.

I get that, but at the same time, those star ratings are quite telling. Yes, we know Colt McCoy was a three star, as were numerous other Longhorn stars. That will happen when three star athletes comprise the largest portion of upper echelon college football. While a three star can play to a five star level, and a five star can fizzle out and never leave the mark people predicted coming out of high school, I'll take the more highly rated player every time.

But, as Gary Patterson has exhibited, there's hay to be made within in the three star ranks. The key of course is evaluation. I know firsthand that the Texas staff scoffs at a lot of the ratings. Certain players that are rated as four stars get passed on all the time, as UT internally would rate them a three star if they were prone to assign ratings. What differentiates Patterson from so many others is that he finds the three stars that should be rated as four or fives with regularity.

So how does Patterson do it?

It boils down to great evaluation, obviously. In Andy Dalton, Patterson mined his own Colt McCoy. A lot of his success has to do with Patterson taking high ceiling guys that aren't anywhere near done physically maturing. Blake and Hughes would be cases in point. The one thing that stands out to me about Patterson though, is the he puts players in ideal positions.

Coming out of high school, Sam Carter was a fairly highly rated dual threat quarterback. He got to campus and with better options at the position, Patterson moved him to defense. In the little I've seen of Carter, he looks like he's going to be an excellent safety. Patterson's stellar strength and conditioning program has Carter muscled up and I'm not sure Carter doesn't play linebacker at some point, but he looks like a real player.

Carter is just one example of the vision Patterson has when it comes to utilizing his talent. More often than not, when Patterson signs a player with the ambiguous title of 'athlete,' Patterson assigns that player to his perfect role as he's done with Carter and Dawson.

In the vast population of three stars, Patterson locates the kids that the Texas', OU's and the guys in my profession routinely underestimate. And, in the 2013 cycle, he's at it again.

Every single prospect in the current TCU recruiting class is a three star, save one, and he's a two star. Either 'my industry' is still wrong about Patterson's players, or Patterson's lost his touch. I'll go with the former rather than the latter.

Four players in particular stick out to me as guys the powers will regret passing on, and two of them should still be under Texas consideration as far as I'm concerned. The four I'm really fond of are Mansfield's George Baltimore, Mansfield Summit's Bryson Henderson, Fort Worth All Saints' Charlie Reid, and Arlington Bowie's Steve Wesley.

Each of these guys is a perfect example of the Gary Patterson way. Baltimore, a safety, has good size and range, and will be a perfect fit in Patterson's trademark 4-2-5. Henderson, a big bodied defensive lineman can play numerous gaps up and down the line. Reid is a sure handed and smooth tight end in the David Thomas mold. And Wesley, he may be the best player in his Horned Frog class. He's a tall, lean and fast corner that looks like a player you'd see playing for any national power. Each player is either very versatile, or has tremendous room for growth.

When it comes to identifying talent, Patterson is a genius. While many publications may inflate a player's ranking based on where he signs, they might want to start paying attention to what Patterson has been doing for years. His track record, both on the recruiting trail and in the won-loss column, speaks for itself.

 

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