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February 15, 2012
The news on Wednesday morning that 17 TCU students, including four football players, were arrested in a sting aimed at alleged illegal drug dealers at the university stunned a fan base of one of the past decade's top programs.
While the arrests - which included were Horned Frog players Tanner Brock, Ty Horn, Devin Johnson and D.J. Yendrey - certainly affect next year's team as all four players were being counted on to play significant roles, a bigger question remains as to how it will impact the future of the program.
College football recruiting is a year-round endeavor now and many programs already have at least one or two, if not a handful, of verbal commitments from high school juniors. According to the Rivals.com database, TCU has not received a commitment from a member of the class of 2013, but the Horned Frogs have extended offers to 23 players.
Cedar Hill's Joey McGuire is one of the most respected and successful head coaches in the state of Texas and he has a former player, Elisha Olabode, on the roster at TCU. One of his current players, Laquvionte Gonzalez, has an offer from the Horned Frogs. McGuire does not see Wednesday's developments affecting the program from a recruiting standpoint.
"I don't know the whole story but I know this - I know Gary Patterson and I know that he's a great football coach and he is a very good man," McGuire said of the TCU head coach. "TCU has been very good to my kid, Elisha Olabode. I think the world of their coaching staff.
"I just know that I trust Coach Patterson. It's one of those things, if Quiv wants to go to TCU, I'm going to trust that Coach Patterson is going to take care of him. I'm not concerned from the standpoint of that."
However, while high school coaches certainly have influence over their players' decisions on where to play college football, the players are ultimately the ones who choose for themselves.
Bastrop (Texas) four-star cornerback Antwuan Davis is one of the top prospects at his position. In fact, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound junior is ranked as the No. 171 overall prospect in the country in the Rivals250 rankings.
Davis holds an offer from TCU as well as several other programs. He has long been a fan of the Horned Frogs and says that, while the news of the arrests is disappointing, it does not change how he views the program.
"It doesn't really affect me how I feel about TCU," Davis said. "I know they're a good school but you have people everywhere that are going to mess up. It's just four football players not doing what they're supposed to. They shouldn't have done that.
"You really just have to question how much they really want it, to put their team in that kind of jeopardy or mess up the team's chances with any recruits that might want to go there. It didn't affect me, though, and I don't really think it will affect anybody else either. It's still the same school and the same coaches and the same program."
The network of high school coaches in the state of Texas is very close-knit and Patterson always has been a popular coach. That shouldn't change, according to another top coach from the Lone Star State.
Spring (Texas) Klein Oak head coach David Smith saw defensive tackle Jon Lewis sign with TCU a year ago and linebacker A.J. Hilliard do the same earlier this month. Like McGuire, he does not see any ill effect stemming from the arrests.
"Right now there is no impact as far as I'm concerned," Smith said. "Hopefully this is a one-time situation.
"In my personal opinion, they have a fantastic person and coach in Patterson, the leader of the TCU Horned Frogs. Eddie Williams, the guy that recruits down here, he's a fantastic person. Those guys are going to do everything they can at all times to separate their players from those that may not be good for them, associated with any type of activity like that."
In fact, both coaches said those events could probably occur on almost any college campus in the country.
"I don't know all the ins and outs and it's not right what's going on, but it's not the only place it's probably going on," McGuire said.
Smith echoed the sentiment.
"This could have occurred at any town in the country as you well know," he said. "People are people and you can't stop people from making bad choices. Now, if it occurs again real soon, then you might sit down and go, 'Wait a minute, what do we have to do, to put in place, to make sure our players make the correct decisions.' "
Patterson issued a statement shortly after news of the arrest was made public. All four players were dismissed from the team immediately.
"The guys that know Coach Patterson, that guy's awesome," McGuire said. "He's been great. He's been a big supporter - a lot like (Texas head coach Mack) Brown - a big supporter of high school coaches in Texas. It's always been one of those deals where we've always been able to come in and talk to them and they take care of us so I'm not going to look at them any different."