TCU Transfers Adjust to New Schemes

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The TCU Horned Frogs football team began spring practice last week after a 5-7 season that saw them miss a bowl game and brought plenty of turnover to the roster and coaching staff.

The Horned Frogs are welcoming 40 new players (21 freshmen and 19 transfers), with 24 participating in spring practices, after losing 11 players to other schools via the transfer portal.

“Obviously, it’s a process just to get to know each and every one of these guys,” tight end Drake Dabney, a transfer from Baylor, told the media after Friday’s practice. “Throughout these eight or nine weeks in the offseason, we’ve come together just working hard each day, day in and day out, just really getting to know each other, staying after throwing, whatever we’ve got to do to just build that connection because that’s going to be important going forward, especially with the amount of transfers. Everybody has a common goal. We want to go out there and take this thing as far as we can, and everyone’s on board with that.”

Dabney was a big part of Baylor’s offense last season, catching 33 passes and five touchdowns to go with a program-record 552 receiving yards for a tight end. But once he entered the transfer portal, he knew his next opportunity needed to help him amplify a deeper skill set.

“I wanted to find an offense that really utilized and allowed the tight end to be able to do multiple things and just someone who’s going to go put up points in general,” he explained. “It wasn’t a great season, but when you watch them, you can see the offense is explosive. They’re putting up points. It’s a fun offense to be in, especially even in their first year with the success that they had, I think it will only go up this year.”

Dabney’s relationship with head coach Sonny Dykes also had an influence on his decision to join the Horned Frogs.

“Coach Dykes, he’s a real players’ coach,” Dabney remarked. “I remember when he was at SMU, and I was being recruited by them. I was really close, just because of Coach Dykes and who they had over there, to considering SMU. So now that he’s at TCU, when I hit the portal and [had] the option … to come here, I was there. I know what he’s about. I know what type of coach he is and that’s always been someone that I wanted to play for.”

Dykes and his coaching staff, especially new defensive coordinator Andy Avalos and linebackers coach Ken Wilson, have been able to use their relationships to land some impactful players on defense as well.

“TCU was just consistent the whole way,” linebacker Kaleb Elarms-Orr, a transfer from Cal, told the media on Friday. “They were just a school that I feel like I had a relationship with. Coach Dykes and all the defensive coaches brought me in with open arms. I like the scheme, and I just like what TCU had going on.”

TCU brought in Avalos, the former head coach at Bosie State, in the offseason to replace defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie after allowing 408.3 yards per game last season. Gillespie ran a 3-3-5 scheme, while Avalos has more of a history using four-player fronts.

“That was a big factor in my decision,” Elarms-Orr added. “Just his defense and his scheme; it was something that was kind of similar to at Cal, but he was more aggressive and allowed me to make more plays and more opportunities to help the team win. … He played a big role in getting me here.”

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