TCU still has one last football game to play this season: Monday’s national championship game against No.1 Georgia.
Even though the program has been concentrated on preparation for the Bulldogs, many other headlines surround the Horned Frogs entering the game.
TCU has landed commitments from five players through the transfer portal since it opened in early December, and all come from elite programs.
Among the players heading to Fort Worth in 2023 are three Alabama transfers: wide receiver JoJo Earle, offensive lineman Tommy Brockermeyer, and now running back Trey Sanders.
Sanders committed to TCU via Twitter on Thursday. With both Kendre Miller and Emari Demercado eligible for the NFL Draft after this season, he has a chance to claim a substantial role in the offense.
The class also includes former LSU wide receiver and tight end Jack Bech and former Florida cornerback Avery Helm.
Thirteen players on the current TCU roster were added via the transfer portal last year, including starting linebacker Johnny Hodges.
Former TCU head football coach Gary Patterson, who spent 25 years as the head coach in Fort Worth, has maintained silence regarding his former team this season as he joined the coaching staff at the University of Texas-Austin.
However, earlier this week, he took the time to speak with NBC 5 DFW about the Horned Frogs’ season and what it means to him.
“You’re excited for the kids,” he told Newy Scruggs when asked about his feelings on the progress. “I’m excited for all the coaches, players, administrators, boosters, everybody for the last 25 years because it’s been a journey.”
“It’s fun. This group here represents a lot of people. You don’t do something for 25 years and all of a sudden turn it off … Sometimes you have to change to make a place better.”
Although they had different paths to get to this point, both TCU quarterback Max Duggan and Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett have one thing in common: they were never supposed to be here.
Bennett grew up a Georgia fan but did not receive a scholarship offer from the Bulldogs out of high school. Instead, he joined the team as a walk-on and led the scout team. After his freshman season, he transferred to Jones College, a junior college in Mississippi, where he led the team to the national championship game with a 10-2 record.
He decided to transfer back to Georgia for the 2019 season but saw the field sparingly. However, the 2020 season would give him a chance to take charge.
The Bulldogs had just lost quarterback Jake Fromm to the NFL and Justin Fields as a transfer to Ohio State. Although JT Daniels (USC) and Jamie Newman (Wake Forest) had also transferred to Athens and were the front runners for the starting quarterback job, Newman opted out of the season because of COVID. The team ended up naming freshman D’Wan Mathis as the starter.
Mathis struggled in his first start and was replaced by Bennett mid-game. Eventually, Bennett was benched after a three-interception game against Alabama and replaced by Daniels.
The following season, injuries sidelined Daniels and gave Bennett another chance.
Bennett went on to lead Georgia to its first national championship since 1980 and was named offensive MVP of the championship game. This season, he followed that performance with an undefeated season and was named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
Now, he has a chance to solidify himself in Georgia football lore with a second consecutive national championship.
On the other hand, Duggan was a highly recruited high school player from Iowa. He was named Gatorade Player of the Year in his state and was ranked the No.3 dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2019.
As a freshman, Duggan claimed the starting job for the Horned Frogs and broke freshman records for passing yards and touchdown passes.
But his play over the next two seasons was incredibly inconsistent, and his overall statistics were down. He battled through injuries in 2021 but still left more to be desired at the quarterback position.
When head coach Sonny Dykes took control of the program in the offseason, redshirt freshman Chandler Morris was named the starting quarterback.
Duggan could have left right then and there, but he stayed and became the face of the program.
The door was opened when Morris suffered an injury against Colorado in the season opener. Duggan came into the game in relief and never gave the job back.
He finished the year with 3,546 yards, 36 touchdowns, and six interceptions and was the runner-up for the Heisman and the Davey O’Brien Award winner.
He is also on the doorstep of finishing a historic season with another piece of hardware.