Gary Patterson’s defense has been all over the place during his tenure at TCU. The one constant though has been the strong safety play. Studs like Sam Carter, Chris Hackett, and Derrick Kindred are a large reason why we’ve had success holding opponents out of the end zone over the years. So, lets take a look at each safety spot and it’s depth for TCU in 2019.
Innis Gaines– 6’2, 203lbs. IG looks to be the top guy in the secondary for the Frogs. He’s had a solid career thus far but will be coming back from a midseason injury that ended his 2018 campaign. Until the injury, Gaines had 31 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 sack, and 1 INT. With such great instincts and toughness on the field, it’s obvious to see why Gaines is the leader of the secondary.
La’Kendrick Van Zandt– 6’1, 206lbs. Behind Gaines is a guy who the coaching staff has been impressed with, and not just because his name is badass. Van Zandt has great athleticism and I believe if he is as good as the coaches say he is, then Patterson has to find a way to get the Sophomore on the field. He was one of the top recruits of the 2017 class and it’s time we let him loose.
Atanza Vongor– 6’1, 200lbs. Vongor has the making to be the a hell of a safety in the Big 12. He’s a hard hitter, has great speed, and could be a great traditional Box Safety. He also had a season-ending injury in fall camp last year but he looks to be healthy heading into 2019. He will most likely struggle seeing the field due to the two great safeties just mentioned.
Trevon Moehrig– 6’2, 190lbs. In 2018, Moehrig didn’t see the field a whole lot due to Niko Small being a big part of the defense. Now that we have lost Small to graduation, Trevon will step in as the full time start at Free Safety, He’s big, fast, and can tackle. He reminds me a lot of Sam Carter. He has speed to cover the field and has a knack to find the ball when its in the air.
Keenan Reed-5’11, 180lbs. A former corner turned safety. Reed has not seen much action but does have good upside and is a solid backup if anything happens with Trevon. He doesn’t have a lot to show due to being at the bottom of the CB depth chart and most reports from spring training seem to say the same thing, he needs to work on his coverage and angles.
Vernon Scott-6’2, 206lbs. Scott had a relatively good 2018 season. Bringing in 35 tackles, 1 INT, and 3 pass deflections. He showed very good instincts and brings toughness to an already nasty TCU defense. Last year, over and over Scott made incredible plays on some of the Big 12’s best receivers, and was very reliable in switching in and out with other safeties. He will be a great player and fun to watch as a full-time starter in 2019.
Ar’Darius Washington-5’8, 175lbs. During his recruitment, we thought Washington was going to Alabama or LSU. Surprisingly, he chose TCU in the end. A huge get for the Frogs and he will without a doubt be a star in the future. He does lack size but his ball hawking skills is what makes him so great. Add that with elite speed, Washington will find himself in the rotation early and often. I believe he actually has a great chance to split reps with Scott as the season wears on.
Gary Patterson noted at Big 12 Media Days that his starting safeties are bigger and longer than ever before. Each player at 6’2 brings quality size to the secondary that will be sure to help with INT’s, pass deflections, and tackling. I am pumped to see this unit against guys like UT’s Collin Johnson and Purdue’s star Rondale Moore and some of the Big 12’s offenses.