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TCU's 3 Headed Monster

Wide Receiver Quentin Johnston, Running Back Zach Evans, and Quarterback Max Duggan. TCU has managed to bring in 3 high-end talents at each level of their offense. If you have been following my work before then you are well aware of Quentin Johnston, but we will be taking a much deeper dive into his outlook as well as Zach Evans' and Max Duggan's. For the people who have heard of Duggan before, odds are you’ve only heard the bad and from his true freshman season, but we will get to that. I encourage you to keep an open mind on the idea. So first I'm going to go over their recruiting profiles together, and then we will break off and look at them each individually from both an analytical and film perspective.

The first of these 3 to arrive on campus was QB Max Duggan, as a recruit in the 2019 class, Duggan was ranked the 5th best dual-threat QB in the country and received a 4-star grade for 247sports. As a recruit, Duggan measured in at 6’2” and 190lbs, but what's even more impressive is that Duggan had the top SPARQ score of all the QBs in his class. For those who aren't aware, this means he tested as the most athletic player at his position. SPARQ has 4 athletic tests and then takes into consideration the players size as well. Duggan ran a 4.58 40 yard dash, a 4.10 shuttle, a 33.5” vertical jump, and a 42' Power Throw. The combination of these 4 events put Duggan at the top spot in the country in terms of athleticism. This blend of physical traits was obviously very enticing for teams, and as a result, Duggan got offers from a lot of top programs such as Georgia, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Oregon, and many more. But ultimately, Duggan ended up choosing Gary Patterson’s TCU.

Following Duggan's first season at TCU (which we will get to in a bit), 2 more high-end recruits were brought in, RB Zach Evans and WR Quentin Johnston. Evans had received a 5-star grade from 247sports and was ranked the 2nd best RB in the entire country. At 5’11’’ 200lbs, Evans ran a 4.51 40 yard dash, a 3.91 shuttle, a 34” vertical jump, and a 36' power throw, adding up to a 117 SPARQ score. As you would expect, Evans was able to choose to play for whatever team he wanted, receiving offers from all the top-tier college programs. Though in the end, he decided on TCU.

Last, but certainly not least of the 3, is Quentin Johnston. Johnston was in the same recruiting class as Evans but was not quite as highly touted. Johnston received a 4-star grade and was ranked the 14th best WR in the country by 247sports. Unlike the other 2, Johnston did not end up publicly testing, so we have no verifiable testing numbers or SPARQ score. But during his time in High School, Johnston was a 3 sport athlete also playing Basketball as well as Track & Field. In these he was able to showcase his athletic abilities even more, in Track & Field, Johnston achieved a 22’ 6.75” long jump, 6’ 10” high jump, and a 42’ 5.75” triple jump. This leaping ability is on full display in Basketball and Football. Johnston at first had verbally committed to Texas, but eventually ended up flipping and signing with TCU.

Now that we have an understanding of these players' backgrounds as recruits, let's break down what they have done up to this point in their college careers, as well as where they currently rank for me, and their future stat projections.

Going into the 2019 college season, Duggan had just come in as a true freshman and was immediately gaining the favor of the coaches. Although there wasn’t much competition in his way from becoming the starting, Gary Patterson left the QB battle open until he had felt that Duggan earned it. This battle lasted into the season opener, where Duggan was put in during the game and played well completing almost 70% of his passes, as well as throwing and rushing for a touchdown. By their 3rd game Duggan had finally solidified himself as the starter, but what was to come was a roller coaster of a season for Duggan. His inconsistency was a big issue, and when he missed, he missed very badly. Throughout the season, even with his accuracy and decision-making issues, it was very apparent that Max Duggan is extremely physically talented. His top SPARQ score flashed on the field as a runner, and to go along with it Duggan has a strong arm with plenty of zip. But even with this talent, things seemingly went bad more often than good during Duggan's true freshman season. His base end-of-the-season stats don’t do justice to how ugly of a season it was for him, he had a 53% completion rate, 2077 yards, and a 15-10 TD to Interception ratio. On the ground, he put up a solid 555 rushing yards with 6 TDs. Now I've been speaking pretty negatively about Duggan, so why am I claiming he's part of a “3 Headed Monster”? Well simply because 1 season doesn’t define a player, especially if it's their true freshman season. As most players do, Duggan came out and improved on a lot of his issues from his 1st season. This wasn't a Joe Burrow year 3 to year 4 leap, but statistically and on the field he did make some good strides in the right direction. In 2020, Duggan had a 60% completion rate(7% increase from the previous year) and a 10-4 TD to INT ratio. Both were nice positive signs that he was going in the right direction, but Duggan still had several just bad games, so consistency is still an issue for him. But now I'm gonna show some good to help display what he brings as a player.

So first with some good, Max Duggan's great athletic ability as a runner, which is on full display during these plays. I would not be shocked if Duggan is able to run a sub 4.5 once he gets to Combine/Pro Day workouts.

His speed is very obvious and he can even move well laterally to evade defenders. To go along with it, Duggan has a pretty good arm and at times displays great accuracy.

A couple of drops there, but Duggan has a good enough arm to get it downfield. Although he does end up throwing a good amount of 50/50 balls to receivers that don't always go his way. That is a large part of where my decision-making concerns come from, he may be able to pull it off at times in college, but that's not a sustainable approach in the NFL. When Duggan is playing hot, he is the real deal and a legitimate NFL prospect, unfortunately at the moment with Duggan he doesn't play up to that level as much as I would like.

This coming season is a make or break year for Duggan, if he can come in and show some more refinement in his passing then he is a serious threat with his great physical talent. At the moment I would consider Duggan a better value in CFF and C2C than Devy, being that I'm not completely sold on his NFL outlook. Unless he does make that big jump this year, I would anticipate that he stays for his senior season. Duggan should have a great supporting cast to aid him, and now we are going to move on to one of them with RB Zach Evans.

Zach Evans was a true freshman during last season, but even being the highly touted recruit he was, he didn't come in and immediately take the majority of carries. Which in my opinion he obviously should have, but Evans still put together a good freshman season and flashed his talent whenever he touched the ball. He averaged 7.7 yards per carry on 54 attempts for 415 rushing yards and 4 TDs. This accounted for 13% of the teams carries, 19% of the teams rushing yards, and 17% of the teams rushing TDs. These numbers are pretty indicative that Evans was making the most of what he was given. He is an explosive player that picks up yards in big chunks, and even flashes his physicality at times as well. His running style is mostly linear, but he does cut well. He is pretty well-rounded in that regard, his biggest drawback for me at the moment is his lack of receiving production. Dropped 2 passes on his 12 targets and only had 8 catches total all year. I wouldn't say this raises much concern and would expect a decent increase in his role as a receiver next season. My only wish would be that TCU had started getting him the ball a bit sooner instead of easing him in.

Now we are beginning by looking at some plays I picked out that display Zach Evans great burst.

Once Evans gets to the second level he is a homerun threat as you will see in the next set as clips as well. These next clips show a bit of his physicality through tackle breaking. Which he does quite well for only being listed at 195lbs last season.

Evans has a great outlook going into this season, he should be seeing a good uptick in touches. He produced very efficiently in his more limited role last year, and although that will likely drop with more touches, he has plenty of room to spare there. I currently have Evans as my 5th ranked RB in Devy, and generally I don't see him being too different from Jahmyr Gibbs.

Quentin Johnston is probably my favorite player in all of college football at the moment. Accordingly, he sits at the top of my devy rankings for WR. I have been asked on several occasions why, and this will serve as my most thought out long-form response to that question. To put it simply, Johnston is rare, both in terms of athleticism and play style. At 6'4" and 193lbs, I would expect him to run a mid 4.4 40 time and near a 40" vertical, on top of that you add on what appear to be very long arms, and you have a pretty freakishly built WR. You would like to see him add weight, but by the time he is NFL draft-eligible I expect him to be at that 200lb threshold which is good enough. With a WR of these athletic measurements, I feel that most would think big deep threat like a Martavis Bryant or a DJ Chark, but Johnston is different. He does excel as a deep threat as well as a jump ball guy with his great height, jumping ability, and arm length, but what sets him apart is his ability after the catch. Johnston moves very fluid laterally and regularly evades defenders by shaking them or hitting a spin move on them. For a player of his size, these are rare traits and they pop off on tape. My only current area of concern for Johnston is that at times his hands have been pretty inconsistent, in the Duggan passing clip we saw him drop a nice deep pass, and this is something that happened several times during his freshman season. As a young player, it is not concerning enough for me to knock him much for it. Additionally when a player has shown they can make impressive catches that tells me it's more of a concentration issue than a hands issue. Last year Johnston came in and produced early on for TCU. His raw stat line doesn't look like anything special on the surface, but in reality he played very well.

For my WR evaluations I use my Mold Score System which shows me what areas a receiver excels at. For example, Quentin here scores pretty highly everywhere, except his separator score. If Johnston didn't have such a low BMI then his YAC score would be much higher as well. WAV% is a market share stat that takes into account how good that teams offense was vs average. It is based off Pro Football References Approximate Value. A score of 25% is good in general, but very good for a true freshman.

First here are some plays that display Johnston's ability after the catch.

As I stated previously, Johnston moves very well laterally for a player of his height and he even brings good physicality despite his lack of weight. He regularly makes the 1st defender miss and you will continue to see that in the following clips. Next up here are some plays of him working downfield more.

Johnston at this point does not regularly gain a ton of separation due to him not being a refined route runner at this point as well as him having good, but not top-end speed. But what Johnston can do is just out athlete most corners in the BIG 12, whether it be him running by the defender or just catching the ball over them with his superior length.

With all these traits, I consider Johnston to be the most talented receiver in college football currently. But with that he certainly has some areas to improve. With another year of experience and a full offseason under his belt, I expect a pretty significant jump in his overall production.

Overall I am excited to watch some TCU games this year, even with the Big 12 being so chaotic right now. Having these 3 really talented players on offense should help bring the team out of its recent stretch mediocrity. TCU still has Evans and Johnston for the next 2 seasons and I could definitely see Duggan hanging around an extra year. That is all I've got for this subject, but as always I do really appreciate anyone reading through to the end, thank you.


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