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Move to Big 12 has helped TCU on the recruiting trail

When Trevone Boykin stepped on campus at TCU, he was a two-star signee and the lowest-rated Horned Frog who put pen to paper in the Class of 2011.

We all know how that turned out.

Boykin became one of the nation’s top quarterbacks, combining unreal open-field running skills with passing prowess that filled Big 12 defensive coordinators with unease. The 2014 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year is a great example of TCU’s ability to evaluate and develop recruits into stars. But Boykin was a member of the last class to sign with TCU before it was part of the Big 12.

Now, four seasons after TCU joined the conference in 2012, we’ve seen the impact of the Horned Frogs' move to the Big 12.

On Tuesday, we took a closer look at how moving to the Big 12 impacted West Virginia. Today, we’ll examine the impact of TCU's move to the Big 12.

Star power: TCU had one ESPN300 signee before joining the Big 12 (from 2006-2011). In the four years since joining the conference, TCU has signed six. Joining a Power 5 conference has helped the Horned Frogs go head-to-head with the top schools in the Big 12 region and secure highly pursued prospects such as 2014 ESPN300 running back Shaun Nixon and 2013 ESPN300 running back Kyle Hicks.

In fact, the Class of 2016 could feature the most ESPN300 signees ever for TCU with five ESPN300 members pledged to sign and play for Gary Patterson. And don’t expect TCU’s rising stock among elite recruits to change anytime soon. TCU offers the chance play in Big 12 football in the Fort Worth/Dallas area, an option no other conference school can offer. And on the heels of back-to-back double-digit-win seasons, it’s easy to see why TCU keeps popping up on the lists of some of Texas’ elite high school players.

Increased overall depth in the classes: While signing elite recruits is key, the overall wealth of talent on TCU’s signee list is increasing as well, which is important because no highly regarded recruit is a guaranteed star. The average number of signees with a 75 ESPN.com scouts grade or above has been on the rise for Patterson’s program.

In its four recruiting classes as a Big 12 member, TCU has signed an average of 17.5 recruits with a scouts grade of 75 or higher. The two previous seasons, the Horned Frogs signed an average of 15.5. And TCU has signed at least two recruits with a scouts grade of 80 or higher in each of the past four recruiting classes. Patterson’s program has been able to consistently land better, deeper classes since joining the conference.

Exceptional evaluation has continued: In the Class of 2012, Derrick Kindred was an overlooked defensive back who picked TCU over Texas San-Antonio. In the Class of 2013, Ranthony Texada had a scouts grade of 71, choosing TCU over Baylor, Iowa State and others. In the Class of 2014, Chris Bradley was a defensive end prospect who picked TCU over Texas State, McNeese State and others with a scouts grade of 73. In the Class of 2015, Tipa Galeai played his way out of a redshirt season despite stepping on campus with a scouts grade of 73 after picking TCU over Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Pittsburgh and others.

Kindred was the centerpiece of the defense in 2015, Texada started as a redshirt freshman in 2014 before injury robbed him of his sophomore season, and Bradley and Galeai could be on the road to bigger things after securing backup roles thus far in their careers.

Even with a move up into the Power 5 stratosphere, TCU hasn’t forgotten its roots and remains committed to pursuing players it wants, regardless of outside perceptions. From there, TCU is one of the Big 12's best at developing those players to fit their system and exceed expectations. The combination of landing more high-profile signees while continuing to unearth hidden gems could prove lethal as TCU pursues another Big 12 title.

Overall: TCU’s move to the Big 12 has had a significant impact on the Horned Frogs’ recruiting. And, quite frankly, it’s the worst-case scenario for programs such as Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, who like to think of the DFW area as in-state recruiting grounds. Before TCU’s Big 12 membership and ensuing success, the Sooners and Cowboys could point to TCU’s conference affiliation or lack of Big 12 success as a separator. Now those programs have another college football power to contend with during those local battles. Meanwhile, TCU’s recruiting looks like it will continue to rise, thanks in large part to its Big 12 membership card.