The end of TCU spring football practice this week means the team’s depth chart, though still fluid, is taking shape.
The Horned Frogs have a lot of shuffling to do on offense, but the defense seems more stable. However, Gary Patterson’s unit still has position battles to watch heading into the summer, particularly at linebacker, safety and defensive end.
Here’s a projection of the TCU depth chart on defense coming out of spring practice.
Left Defensive End
- Ben Banogu, senior
- Dennis Collins, redshirt freshman
- Gary Overshown, sophomore
Banogu returns as the star of the TCU defensive line after passing on the NFL draft. He’ll carry more of the pass load after the departure of Mat Boesen. Collins performed well in the spring scrimmage and is probably the next player up, followed by another young end in Overshown.
- Corey Bethley, sophomore
- George Ellis III, redshirt freshman
Bethley will look to build on a solid freshman campaign. He may be the Frogs’ best pass rushing defensive tackle. Ellis, listed at 6-foot-2 and 298 pounds, provides good size and depth.
- Ross Blacklock, sophomore
- Joseph Broadnax, senior
Blacklock consumed opposing blockers in 2017, and he’ll be the foundation of TCU’s run defense yet again. Broadnax has starting experience and will feature heavily into the rotation.
Right Defensive End
- L.J. Collier, senior OR Brandon Bowen, sophomore
- Michael Epley, senior
Collier built on his solid performance in the bowl game against Stanford by dominating backup tackle David Bolisomi during the spring scrimmage. Bowen, a former 4-star recruit regarded as one of the best athletes on the team, appears to be healthy after a season-ending shoulder injury last year.
Both will be featured in the rotation, but the question is who impresses the coaching staff enough to secure the starting job. Epley provided valuable reps last year and should do the same in 2018.
- Ty Summers, senior
- Ben Wilson, freshman OR Jawuan Johnson, senior
Summers has one of the linebacker positions locked up and could pass Travin Howard for TCU’s leading tackler in the Patterson era this season. Behind him, Ben Wilson is a great tackler with a lot of potential. Northern Illinois transfer Jawuan Johnson gives the Frogs needed depth.
- Montrel Wilson, junior OR Arico Evans, senior
- Garret Wallow, sophomore
- Alec Dunham, senior
TCU has a few options to try to replace Howard. Evans and Wilson both saw significant playing time last year. If Wilson can stay healthy, he may be the favorite.
Wallow is listed as a linebacker on the official team roster, and Patterson said he would push for a starting job this fall. He also could slide over to safety, where he has experience, if needed. Dunham provides depth and experience.
- Innis Gaines, junior
- Wallow, sophomore OR Vernon Scott, junior
Gaines started in the spring scrimmage, and it looks like he is on his way to a starting role once the regular season starts, as well. Wallow could see snaps both here and at linebacker, depending on how much depth TCU has at either position. Scott played in all 14 games last season and has good size, listed at 6-2 and 206 pounds.
- Niko Small, senior
- Michael Onyemaobi, redshirt freshman OR Kerry Johnson, sophomore
Small enters his third season as a starter in a secondary. Behind him, however, will be younger options. Johnson had an interception in the spring scrimmage, and Onyemaobi played well.
- Ridwan Issahaku, senior OR Markell Simmons, senior
- La’Kendrick Van Zandt, sophomore
- Atanza Vongor, freshman
The departure of Nick Orr leaves a void for TCU’s defense. Fortunately for the Frogs, Issahaku has experience at the position and could slide into that spot. Simmons started at this spot in the spring scrimmage, so he’s an option as well. Van Zandt and Vongor are both talented young options who could be in position for significant reps.
- Julius Lewis, senior
- Tony James, senior
- Noah Daniels, redshirt freshman
Lewis missed most of last year because of an injury which required surgery, and he didn’t play in the spring scrimmage. He’s one of TCU’s best players in coverage when he’s healthy. However, James has played well in his stead at times during the past two years.
Daniels was one of the fastest players in TCU’s 2017 class, a trait Patterson values in his cornerbacks.
- Jeff Gladney, junior
- Keenan Reed, junior
- Trevon Moehrig-Woodard, freshman
Gladney enters 2018 as TCU’s No. 1 cornerback. He’ll be tasked with covering opponents’ top receivers. Behind him, Reed unexpectedly rose up the depth chart last season and should see action. Moehrig-Woodard, listed at 6-2 and 190 pounds, has the height to match up well with the Big 12’s taller receivers.