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 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
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
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.