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February 4, 2012

TCU hopes for Big 12 recruiting boost

The move from the Mountain West Conference to the Big 12 has enhanced TCU's recruiting cachet.

It certainly helped head coach Gary Patterson assemble - and maintain - a solid recruiting class that is ranked 36th in the country and fifth in the Big 12 by Rivals.com.

Patterson, however, isn't satisfied. He seeks much more grandiose results for the Fort Worth-based Horned Frogs.

And he thinks he knows where he can get them: His backyard.

"The [Dallas-Fort Worth] Metroplex has never had a Big 12 school," Patterson said on National Signing Day. "What we should become to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the same thing that Texas A&M is to Houston and Texas is to Austin."

Doing so will be tough task, according to Rivals.com Texas analyst Brian Perroni. TCU will battle old and new rivals.

"The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is a big-time hotbed for both Texas and Oklahoma," Perroni said. "And with new assistant coach David Beaty at Texas A&M, it will become a priority for the Aggies as well.

"That being said, there is a ton of talent in the region."

TCU proved that this year. It made a solid showing in the area by signing four-star defensive end and Rivals250 player Devonte Fields of Arlington Martin, three-star athlete Kolby Listenbee of Arlington Bowie and three-star offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai of nearby Haltom City.

"TCU won a tough battle against several schools to keep Fields close to home," Perroni said.

The Horned Frogs also showed some national appeal with four-star quarterback Tyler Matthews of McPherson, Kan., three-star defensive end Terrell Lathan of West Monroe, La., and three-star defensive backs Zach Jackson and Jordan Moore from the Atlanta area.

Patterson also signed four-star tight end Griffin Gilbert from Austin (Texas) Lake Travis.

Of course, Patterson recruited well at TCU when it was in the Mountain West Conference. The school has been ranked in the Rivals Top 50 the past four seasons. And last year's class remains it best ever, ranked 26th in the nation.

Still, Patterson said Big 12 membership will be a big impact: "One of the things that had been held against us was that weren't in the Big 12," he said.

In fact, he feels the school already has benefited.

"I think (moving to the Big 12) helped us hold on to our class," he said. "There were a lot of changes in college football with commitments. Going into the Big 12 really helped us solidify a lot of our class."

But TCU will need to be more than just a Big 12 school to solidify itself in the talent-rich Metroplex. It will need to become a Big 12 power.

"The move to the Big 12 has definitely allowed TCU to go after a higher-caliber recruit, but the winning product on the field has a lot to do with it as well," Perroni said. "To beat Texas and Oklahoma consistently in DFW, though, the Horned Frogs are going to have to have a strong first couple of years on the field in Big 12 play."

Olin Buchanan is a senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.



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