How did the Athlon Sports preseason All-Big 12 team rank as high school prospects?
The 2012 college football season is just around the corner, and Athlon continues its countdown to kickoff with a look at all-conference teams from across the nation. But where did all these tremendous all-league performers come from and how did they get where they are today?
Can Geno Smith lead the Mountaineers to the Big 12 title?
Landry Jones might have been a first-round pick in April’s NFL Draft. Instead, he’s still a Sooner, giving Oklahoma an elite quarterback and the inside track to the Big 12 title. Jones already owns 13 school passing records and must be considered a Heisman candidate.
Athlon Sports ranks the Top 25 best coaches in college football for 2012.
Ranking the coaches in any college football conference is a difficult task. Many factors play into just how successful a coach is at any school. How well are the assistants paid? Are the facilities up to par with the rest of the conference? Can the coach recruit or is he more of an x's and o's manager? Are there off-the-field or age issues to take into consideration? Has a coach built a program or continued the success from a previous coach?
TCU is moving from the Mountain West to the Big 12.
Athlon Sports, publisher of the No. 1-selling college football magazine, continues the release of its preseason Top 25 poll at www.athlonsports.com. The countdown commences every year in early May and leads to the on-sale date of Athlon's category-leading college football preseason annuals.
To celebrate the TCU Horned Frogs being named No. 22, AthlonSports.com will devote an entire day to the program, including a look at the Top 10 Players for 2012, the Greatest Players since 1967 and a Team Preview. (Direct links are included below.)
As a redshirt freshman last season, Anderson saw action in all 13 games and made his first career start at Wyoming. Anderson finished the 2011 season seventh on the team with 49 tackles, 35 of them solo, and also added an interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery. His 49 tackles were the most by a TCU freshman since two linebackers led the team in 2005. Anderson was at his best against BYU when he racked up 17 tackles (11 solo) and collected his lone interception of the season. The 17 total stops were the most by any Horned Frog defender since 2004 and the third-most in Gary Patterson’s 11 seasons TCU head coach. The sophomore weak safety will take on an even bigger role in 2012 as TCU’s five-man secondary returns just one starter, sophomore cornerback Jason Verrett.
Dawson had his best season by far in 2011 as his 45 receptions were nearly four times the number (12) he had in his first two years combined. Dawson finished second on the team in receptions, receiving yards (500) and touchdowns (five). He also made an impact on special teams, returning both punts and kickoffs during the season. Dawson had a career day against Portland State last Sept. 24, catching eight passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns. He also was named the 2011 Poinsettia Bowl Offensive MVP after hauling in a 42-yard touchdown with 4:26 left in the game to give TCU the lead in its eventual 31-24 win over Louisiana Tech.
Tucker led the team and tied for fourth in the Mountain West Conference with 12 touchdowns last season, earning honorable mention all-conference honors. The senior was third on the team with 702 rushing yards and has 2,087 in his career entering 2012. Tucker scored a touchdown in nine of TCU’s 13 games last season and found the end zone twice in three games. Tucker currently has 27 rushing TDs, which places him sixth all-time on TCU’s career list. If he matches his 2011 total of 12 this season, Tucker will end his career No. 2 on TCU’s all-time rushing touchdown list, trailing only Horned Frogs legend and future NFL Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson (54).
Wesley is second on the team with 24 career starts headed into 2012. Last season, the senior finished second in rushing with 726 yards and tied for second with six rushing touchdowns despite missing three games because of injury. An honorable mention All-Mountain West Conference selection, Wesley led the team in rushing five times and posted two 100-yard games in 2011. He piled up a season-high 146 yards on the ground on 24 carries (6.1 ypc) at San Diego State. For his TCU career, Wesley has 2,457 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. He is currently tied for eighth on TCU’s all-time list for career rushing touchdowns. Wesley also returned 11 punts for 120 yards and caught six passes out of the backfield in 2011.
The youngest member of TCU’s three-headed monster at tailback, James led the Horned Frogs with 875 yards rushing in 2011 earning him honorable mention All-Mountain West Conference recognition. James led the Horned Frogs in rushing a team-high six times last season, including when he racked up a career-high 181 yards on the ground at Wyoming on just 12 carries (15.1 yards per carry). James rushed for more than 100 yards in two other contests and his six rushing touchdowns tied him for second-most on the team. James also made an impact on special teams as he returned eight kickoffs for an average of 27.8 yards per return, including one 82 yards for a TD against Portland State.
Cain became the fourth different linebacker in the last four years to lead TCU in tackles as he recorded 72 total stops in 2011. Cain was a second-team All-Mountain West Conference selection last season, despite missing two games due to injury. Besides the 72 tackles, 39 of which were solo stops, Cain also had three tackles for loss, a sack, an interception, four pass breakups and a fumble recovery. He posted double-digit tackles twice last season, including a career-high 13 against Portland State. With the departure of Tank Carder, Cain, now a senior, will take on more of a leadership role for a Horned Frogs defense that returns just five starters.
Foltz is one of only two (center James Fry) returning starters on the offensive line for TCU. A first-team All-Mountain West Conference selection in 2011, Foltz is the most experienced offensive lineman with 15 career starts. Foltz will anchor an offensive line that’s hoping to replicate last season’s offensive production and protection. TCU finished 2011 ranked ninth in the nation in scoring offense (40.8 points per game), 19th in rushing (208.6 yards per game) and 28th in total offense (440.2 yards per game). The Horned Frogs also ranked fourth in the nation in third-down conversions (52 percent) and 15th in sacks allowed (1 per game).
Boyce returns to lead the receiving corps after earning first-team All-Mountain West Conference honors in 2011, the first TCU receiver to do so in its seven-year history in the MWC. Boyce has 20 career starts under his belt and came within two yards last season of posting just the second 1,000-yard receiving season in school history. He had a career game in the Horned Frogs’ upset victory at Boise State on Nov. 12 when he caught five passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns. He finished last season with 61 receptions and nine touchdowns, leaving him just shy of setting TCU single-season records in both categories. He has 15 career touchdown catches entering 2012 and needs just three more to become the Horned Frogs’ all-time leader.
With 25 career starts, Maponga is the most experienced player on TCU’s roster. The junior who was born in Zimbabwe was a first-team All-Mountain West Conference selection last season as he led TCU in sacks (nine), tackles for loss (13.5), forced fumbles (five) and fumble recoveries (two). He was one of four players in the nation to rank in the top 10 in forced fumbles and top 25 in sacks. Maponga’s experience, presence and big-play ability make the defensive line the most critical component to the Horned Frogs’ defense, especially as the unit prepares to take on the Big 12’s high-powered offenses.
All Pachall did in his first year as a starter in 2011 was supplant Andy Dalton, his predecessor who’s now starting in the NFL, in several places in the TCU record books, setting new single-season marks for completions (228), completion percentage (66.5) and yards passing (2,921). The second-team All-Mountain West Conference selection also finished 12th in the nation in passing efficiency and threw the second-most touchdown passes (25) in Horned Frogs history. Pachall posted career highs in both passing yards (473) and touchdowns (five) in the Horned Frogs’ 36-35 win over then No. 5-ranked and previously undefeated Boise State. The loss snapped the Broncos’ 35-game home winning streak, which had been the longest in the nation. The junior will get another chance to re-write the TCU history books this season as the Horned Frogs begin play as a member of the Big 12 Conference.
The TCU Horned Frogs check in at No. 22 in Athlon's college football 2012 top 25 countdown. Here's a look at our predictions for the most valuable players, games to watch, breakout candidates and other key categories for 2012.
The Horned Frogs are moving from the Mountain West to the Big 12 this year.
Athlon's College Football top 25 countdown for 2012 continues with No. 22 TCU. The Horned Frogs are on the move, making the switch from the Mountain West to the Big 12. TCU's offense is loaded, but a rebuilt defense and increased competition will determine just how high this team can climb in the top 25.