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January 14, 2013

Recapping TCU's big recruitment weekend

It was a big weekend for TCU, as the Horned Frogs reeled in three commitments and officially announced the return of quarterback Casey Pachall, who will return to school with classes beginning today.

With the addition of Zach Allen, Cameron Echols-Luper and Lloyd Tunstill, TCU's 2013 class is now up to 18 commitments. Three of those - Allen, Eason Fromayan and Bryson Burtnett - are early enrollees and already on campus.

A little more three weeks remain until National Signing Day, Feb. 6, and the Frogs still have several needs to fill, with several important official visits left to impress potential signees.

But first, let's recap the weekend that was.

Commit: Zach Allen

Position: Quarterback

Rivals ranking/star rating: No. 20 dual-threat QB, nation; No. 85 overall, Texas; 3 stars.


Background: Allen committed to Syracuse in May, and had remained solid to the Orange up until about a week ago. That changed with the departure of head coach Doug Marrone, who took the vacant Buffalo Bills job. Defensive coordinator Scott Shafer took over for Marrone, but the uncertainty that came with the change left Allen wavering. That's when TCU stepped in. After visiting Fort Worth on Friday, Allen made the decision to flip his commitment later that night, formally announcing his choice Saturday morning. He'll begin classes today, capping what has been a whirlwind week for the Temple native.

What he brings to the table: He might be listed as a dual-threat quarterback, but Allen was quick make one thing clear when I spoke with him Saturday afternoon: He is a passer first. Throwing the football is his foremost priority. He won't be the type to scramble at every possible chance, he said. Still, he has the mobility to make things happen when the pocket breaks down. He's not a statue back there. This bodes well for TCU, because, really, this is where college football is heading. Take for instance the 2011 dual-threat quarterback class. Of those top-30 guys, one has won a Heisman (Johnny Manziel), one has won a Sugar Bowl (Teddy Bridgewater), one has won a Fiesta Bowl (Marcus Mariota), one led his team to a national championship game (Everett Golson) and one led his team to an undefeated season (Braxton Miller). And TCU's own Trevone Boykin and Oklahoma State's J.W. Walsh both have had success. Mobility matters, now more than ever, and it's proven to be very effective. Allen gives you that, along with a great ability to throw the football.

Commit: Cameron Echols-Luper

Position: Athlete

Rivals ranking/star rating: No. 45 athlete, nation; No. 19 overall, Alabama; 3 stars.


Background: Echols-Luper was committed to Texas A&M before parting ways last week with the Aggies. Immediately, TCU was among Echols-Luper's favorites, along with Texas Tech, which he had scheduled to visit this coming week. But after visiting TCU over the weekend and meeting with his father Sunday morning, Echols-Luper was ready to make his pledge to the Frogs. He "more than likely" will forego his trip to Lubbock.

What he brings to the table: Echols-Luper played quarterback at Auburn (Ala.) High School this past season, but he'll line up at wide receiver for TCU, with the possibility of returning kicks, too. A state title long jumper, Echols-Luper runs a 4.4 40-yard dash, and he said TCU coaches compared him to former Frog Jeremy Kerley. Like Brandon Carter, Echols-Luper should be able to step in immediately and make an impact in some way, especially with the departure of leading receiver Josh Boyce. He'll likely play the slot position with the possibility of being used in a Wildcat formaton. Echols-Luper rushed for 900 yards and seven touchdowns out the quarterback position as a senior.

Commit: Lloyd Tunstill

Position: Offensive line

Rivals ranking/star rating: N/A; N/A; 2 stars


Background: Tunstill came onto the scene late, just recently picking up a TCU offer after being in frequent contact with offensive line coach Eddie Williamson. From what he told me, Tunstill's visit was nearly perfect. He hung out mainly with offensive tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, and also spent some time with defensive end Devonte' Fields. He said he knew Saturday night he wanted to commit to TCU, and he made the decision final Sunday morning before flying back to California. Tunstill was scheduled to visit West Virginia this week with a possibility of making a trip to Nebraska, too, but he has canceled all future visits and closed his recruitment up, as he's solidly committed to the Frogs.

What he brings to the table: Tunstill is big. Real big. His profile lists him at 6-foot-4, 305 pounds, but he said he weighed in at 330 pounds. He plans to shed a few of those, but it appears the Frogs have found a force for the interior portion of the line. From the sound of it, Tunstill will likely play guard, but he said both he and Williamson are open to him switching to either center or tackle. He'll be used on an as-needed basis starting out. Tunstill brings plenty of intangibles to the table. He strongly emphasized how the academics and family environment of TCU played a role in his decision. Tunstill, a 2011 high school graduate, will have three years to play two.


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