FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — TCU is running forward after its first Big 12 season, signing two of the top high school running backs from Texas.
The Horned Frogs' 22-player signing class Wednesday was highlighted by Arlington Martin's Kyle Hicks (5-foot-10, 190 pounds), a four-star recruit by Rivals, and Houston's Trevorris Johnson (5-11, 205).
"I call them thunder and lightning," coach Gary Patterson said. "You've got a smaller, faster one in Kyle Hicks, a national recruit. And then you have Tre Johnson ... he will end up being a 220-pound back. Those guys took visits to a lot of big-time places."
Hicks had 1,571 total yards (1,113 rushing and 458 passing) while accounting for 28 touchdowns in only nine games last season. He ran for 1,667 yards and 26 touchdowns as a junior at Martin, when he was the prep teammates with current TCU players Devonte Fields and Jaden Oberkrom. As a freshman last season, defensive end Fields had 10 sacks and was the Big 12 defensive player of the year.
Johnson ran for 2,115 yards and 19 TDs last season, including an Alief Taylor High-record 342 yards in one game.
Half of TCU's signing class is from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and six others are also from Texas, only months after the Horned Frogs ended their Big 12 debut season 7-5.
The most-signed position was offensive line, a group of four that included 6-foot-3, 288-pound center Patrick Morris from Denton Guyer. Morris was an AP Class 4A All-State pick that Scout.com ranked as the nation's eighth-best center.
Last February, the Horned Frogs' signing class included three offensive tackles — all at least 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds.
TCU added three more big tackles this time around, in Eason Fromayan (6-5, 285) from Milton High in Alpharetta, Ga.; Joseph Noteboom (6-5, 260) from Plano; and Lloyd Tunstill (6-4, 305), who will have two seasons of eligibility at TCU after playing the last two seasons at College of the Canyons in California.
"Our offense, you've got to start up front," Patterson said. "We really felt like we needed to get bigger."
Fromayan's father, Edwin, was a four-year basketball letterman at TCU from 1988-91.
The lone quarterback in the class was Temple's Zach Allen (6-3, 185), who has already enrolled at TCU and is part of the offseason program.
Allen passed for 2,175 yards and 24 touchdowns while running for 941 yards and nine TDs while playing on nine games due to injury last season. Among three signed receivers was Jermaine Antoine from Loreauville, La., who was tabbed the best all-around athlete at the 2012 U.S. Army National combine. He ran for 1,399 yards and 26 TDs and had 538 yards receiving for six more scores.
Cameron Echols-Luper from Auburn, Ala., is a receiver whose father, Curtis, is TCU's receivers coach.
The Frogs were thin at linebacker last season, and that was before the graduation of All-Big 12 linebacker Kenny Cain, their leading tackler.
"One of the primary positions we felt we had to address," Patterson said. "Like all of our linebackers, they don't weigh a lot coming out of high school. ... We look for guys that can make plays and are explosive."
They signed three of the five-best three prep linebackers from Texas — Sammy Douglas (6-3, 195) from Arlington, Dac Shaw (6-2, 200) from Mineola and Paul Whitmill (5-11, 200) from Bastrop.
Shaw, also a running back who accounted for 54 touchdowns the last two seasons, had one game as a senior when he rushed for 319 yards and five touchdowns and had 12 tackles.
Douglas was listed as the state's best linebacker by Dave Campbell's Texas Football, an AP Class 5A All-State pick after 168 tackles as a senior, including 29 in a playoff game. He had 148 tackles as a junior.
Frisco's Ranthony Texada, named by Campbell as the state's top cornerback, was one of four defensive backs in the signing class. Texada had 63 tackles, four interceptions and 22 pass breakups. He also averaged 38 yards on kickoff returns and blocked five field goals.