We continue our annual Triplets of the Big 12 series, looking at every conference school’s expected standouts at quarterback, running back and receiver.
Here, we’re talking TCU.
Quarterback: Alex Delton
FYI: 6-0, 200-pound senior from Hays, Kansas by way of Kansas State; started six games in his Wildcats career, all Big 12 matchups (TCU, Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas Tech in 2017, and then Texas and Kansas last year). Kansas State went 3-3 in those games. He was a team co-captain last year.
Last year: 44 of 80 for 554 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs in seven games, including two starts. (Career, all at Kansas State: 96-171-1,202, 5/4 plus 213-868-11 on the ground.)
Coach Gary Patterson had five candidates for starting quarterback. As of this week, he’s whittled it down to two — Delton and Max Duggan.
But signs are pointing to Delton, the former starter at Kansas State who took a circuitous route to Fort Worth.
Delton quit K-State as the Wildcats changed coaches from Bill Snyder to Chris Kliesman. He initially committed to UTEP since Dana Dimel, his former offensive coordinator, was coaching the Miners But then he picked TCU, enrolling in time for the spring semester.
Now for some background on the Frogs’ quarterback situation. They went through them last fall like Kleenex in allergy season. Shawn Robinson was hurt, then announced his transfer. Michael Collins filled in, then sprained his ankle. Grayson Muehlstein started the Cheez-It Bowl and gave way to Justin Rogers.
Collins was competing for this year’s starting job, but he sprained his ankle last weekend. Rogers still is recovering from a severe knee injury he suffered in high school.
So that leaves Delton, the transfer, and Duggan, a freshman who was the fifth-best dual threat quarterback prospect in the country by 247Sports’ composite ratings.
Delton is athletic and can run the ball. He came off the bench to lead the Wildcats to a win over UCLA in the 2017 Cactus Bowl, where he was the offensive MVP.
How he’ll adapt to offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie’s up-tempo style will be key.
Running back: Darius Anderson
FYI: 5-11, 212-pound senior from Richmond, Texas; earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors as a sophomore in 2017 after leading the team in rushing. His first career touchdown came at the expense of Charlie Strong, in the coach’s final game at Texas to end the 2016 season. It was a 70-yard run.
Last year: 124 carries for 598 yards (second on the team) and 3 TDs. (Career: 279-1,595-12) His highlight moment was a 93-yard touchdown run against Ohio State, the longest play from scrimmage allowed in Buckeyes history.
The Horned Frogs have two terrific tailbacks in Anderson and Sewo Olonilua. But for now, Anderson has the inside track as the featured back because Olonilua still is facing legal problems.
If the two remain healthy and eligible, count on seeing both of them together in two-back sets.
Anderson, the speedster, has dealt with injury issues the last two seasons. His career highlight play is the 93-yard touchdown he scored against Ohio State last September. Olonilua, who graduated in the spring, was arrested in Huntsville in May and charged with drug possession, a third-degree felony. Olonilua is practicing, but the charge still is pending.
“I have a lot of respect for the judicial system,” Patterson told reporters earlier this month, “so how they work all that out from our standpoint, there will be discipline no matter how they handle that. But he will practice. I can’t elaborate on anything else in fairness to the DA down there, in fairness to Sewo and his lawyer. The kid graduated in four years, he screwed up. There’s always a price one way or another that you have to pay.”
Olonilua is a bruising, old-school tailback who at 6-3, 240 pounds is built much like the linebackers who try to tackle him. He rushed for 194 yards in the bowl game, a TCU post-season record.
If Olonilua is eligible, TCU could have the top running attack in the Big 12, given that defenses will have to account for Delton’s rushing ability, Olonilua’s power and Anderson’s speed.
Wide receiver: Jalen Reagor
FYI: 5-11, 195-pound junior from Waxahachie; earned second-team All-Big 12 honors last year as a sophomore, when he was voted the team’s MVP by his teammates. He was the first TCU wide receiver to win that award since 2004. Caught 30.1% of the team’s receptions, the highest mark in Patterson’s 18 years at TCU.
Last year: 72 catches for 1,061 yards and 9 touchdowns, all of which led the team and his receptions and yards were the second-best season in school history for a receiver. Of his 72 grabs, 44 went for either a first down or a touchdown. (Career: 105-1,637-17)
If only Reagor had a team with a consistent quarterback last season. His stats could have gone from above-average to spectacular.
He caught 72 passes for 1,062 yards last fall, even with the Frogs’ problems of keeping a quarterback upright. He also rushed 13 times for 170 yards and returned kicks and punts.
Reagor, the son of former Texas Tech great Montae Reagor, will make his case this fall that he’s the top receiver in the league.
Our Big 12 triplets
Coming at noon: Texas