DEVONTE FIELDS The relentless defensive end from Arlington, Texas, has his work cut out for him as a true freshman playing behind Stansly Maponga and Ross Forrest. But Fields has the size (6'4", 240 pounds) and speed to make an early impact.
BRANDON CARTER Effective in spurts (57 yards and one TD against SMU, 120 and two against Boise State) last season, the sophomore slot receiver is set to take the next step this year. With defenses keying on Boyce, Carter should be able to shimmy free for big gains.
WIDE RECEIVER Josh Boyce and quarterback Casey Pachall are fellow Texans and former high school opponents. They roomed together as redshirt freshmen and worked on routes after practice. Last Nov. 12, against unbeaten Boise State, all that work paid off when Pachall-to-Boyce produced five catches for 163 yards and three TDs in the Frogs' 36--35 upset. This year's version of Pachall-to-Boyce will be an upgrade on last year's, but TCU's schedule will also be taking a leap. "We're very excited about what we can do," Boyce says of TCU's entry into the Big 12. "We're finally in a conference where, if we win out, people will have nothing to say about us." TCU is not entering the Big 12 expecting to be a mid-major in transition.
YES, THE linebacking corps is mostly decimated, and only one starting defensive back is returning—junior Jason Verrett—but defensive end Stansly Maponga is a two-year starter who led the Frogs with 13½ tackles for loss, nine sacks and five forced fumbles in 2011, and longtime safeties coach Chad Glasgow is back after a one-year stint as Texas Tech's defensive coordinator. Plus, the offense is the real deal. Pachall's 2,921 yards in 2011 was a school record, and TCU has its top four receivers and top four rushers back. It's enough to win some shootouts and compete in the country's highest-scoring conference.