Sam Carter

Texas Tech took the field against Oklahoma State on Thursday night with its sixth defensive coordinator in six years after Mike Smith took over for Matt Wallerstedt, who stepped down from the position on Sept. 18. Initially, it was reported that Wallerstedt had been fired for being at the football facility under the influence of a substance, but Wallerstedt later refuted the claim, saying he had resigned due to personal reasons. The Red Raiders’ defense has struggled this season, giving up 36.7 points and nearly 300 yards per game on the ground, including 438 rushing yards at home to Arkansas on Sept. 13.

TCU’s Carter candidate for senior CLASS Award

TCU safety Sam Carter is one of 30 candidates for this year’s Senior CLASS Award for notable achievements in the community, classroom, character and competition. Carter, a graduate student, is a two-time All-Big 12 selection and has recorded 10 interceptions in his career with the Horned Frogs. He’s also on the preseason watch list for the Chuck Bednarik, Bronko Nagurski and Jim Thorpe awards. In addition to his on-field achievements, Carter is president of TCU Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the student ministry, Ignite, and volunteers at Cook Children’s Medical Center. The winner of the award will be named in January.

Cowboys flip LSU recruit Kevin Henry

Oklahoma State scored a victory on the recruiting trail Tuesday when safety Kevin Henry verbally committed to the Cowboys. Henry, a four-star recruit from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was committed to LSU before making the switch. Henry is an ESPN300 recruit, ranked 258th in the class of 2015. Listed at 6 feet 5 inches, 215 pounds, Henry is the 13th commit for Oklahoma State’s 2015 class and its fourth ESPN300 recruit. He will likely be one of only four players from Louisiana on the Cowboys roster once he finalizes his commitment on signing day in February.

Oklahoma’s Perine takes home conference honors

After a breakout game on national television against West Virginia, Oklahoma’s running back Samaje Perine was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week. In the 45-33 win, the true freshman led the Sooners’ rushing attack with 34 carries for 242 yards and four touchdowns. Perine was also the first Sooner to run for four touchdowns since former quarterback Blake Bell did it against Texas in 2012, and he posted the fourth-highest single-game rushing total in school history.

Fellow Sooner, sophomore kick returner Alex Ross, was named the conference’s special teams player of the week following his 100-yard kickoff return in the win — the sixth such return in Sooner history. Dakorey Johnson, Kansas State senior linebacker, was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week after recording six tackles, two tackles for loss and an interception in a loss to Auburn.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

The Longhorns know they have a challenge on Saturday.

“For me, my side of the ball, TCU has an incredible defense, probably the best in our league, if not the best in college football right now,” senior quarterback Case
McCoy said.

And head coach Mack Brown made sure to note that, more specifically, TCU’s secondary is one of its most formidable units.

“They do a great job in the back end,” Brown said. “They do a great job matching routes. When they do disguise and play man, they do a great job playing man coverage.”

That great play Brown speaks of on the back end is in large part due to the outstanding play of senior cornerback Jason Verrett and junior safety Sam Carter. 

Few would argue against the assertion that Verrett is the best cornerback in the Big 12. He was a unanimous preseason All-Big 12 selection after being named a first-team All-American last year by SI.com. He led the Big 12 with 1.69 passes defended per game, the second-most in the country.

“It gives you confidence knowing you can line up with him on the best,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said. “He’s not the biggest corner, but he battles you and is smart about what he does. He learns on the field.”

While Verrett may be the Horned Frogs’ best NFL prospect on defense, he isn’t having the best statistical year on that side of the ball. That honor belongs to Carter. 

Carter, who burned the Longhorns last year with a forced fumble and a game-sealing interception, has gotten better since. He already has two sacks, a forced fumble and three picks, returning one for a touchdown. 

“Sam is an amazing guy,” Patterson said. “Our safeties get themselves in good positions because they are really smart football players.”

Verrett, his partner in crime, isn’t just a cover corner. He was ranked sixth in the NCAA last year with six interceptions and he recorded 63 tackles. He was the only player in the nation ranked in the Top 10 in interceptions and passes defended.

But, for the former high school running back, it almost never happened.

Verrett ended up learning how to play cornerback at Santa Rosa CC (Calif.) and did it well enough to be ranked as the nation’s No. 6 JUCO cornerback, according to rivals.com. 

The FBS interest didn’t follow, though, as he had expected.

He got no offers from a BCS school. A few from Mountain West schools such as Boise State, San Jose State and TCU, along with one from UTEP. Ultimately, he signed with the Horned Frogs.

His first start couldn’t have gone much worse.

Then-Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III threw six touchdown passes against the Horned Frogs — the first three coming at Verrett’s expense. That was two more touchdowns allowed in his first game at the FBS level as he had surrendered the prior year in junior college.

Verrett wanted to quit. 

He called his dad, mom, brother, former coach and Patterson to inform them his first game was going to be his last.

“I didn’t really wanna quit,” Verrett said a year later. “I was kind of lost. I was thinking of all the wrong things instead of just taking it as one game with 11 more to go.”

He learned from that game, one which Patterson still refers to as the “the one where [Verrett] wouldn’t come out from underneath the covers.” He handles adversity better. He’s learned to take things one game at a time.

Verrett is now a projected second-round pick in the NFL Draft and was named to the 2013 Lott Trophy watch list. He leads the team with 12 passes defended to go along with his one interception.

And, to think, he almost quit after his first game.