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Friday, September 3, 2010
TCU: 1st-round pick to redshirt freshman?

By Jeff Caplan

Any time TCU coach Gary Patterson's defense is mentioned in terms of returning seven starters, Patterson stops it right there and says, yeah, but try to replace an NFL first-round draft pick.

He's talking, of course, about Indianapolis Colts first-round pick defensive end Jerry Hughes, who was only the second two-time consensus All-American in TCU history as the Horned Frogs topped the nation in total defense in each of the past two seasons.

So who replaces the irreplacable Hughes at left end in Saturday's opener at Cowboys Stadium that pits the No. 6 Frogs against the No. 24 Oregon State Beavers?

How about redshirt freshman Stansly Maponga? The 6-foot-2, 260-pounder out of Hebron (Carrollton) High School has put on 20 pounds since last season and he'll join three seniors on the defensive line, two of whom -- tackle Cory Grant and right end Wayne Daniels -- were all-MWC performers last season.

"We're not scared to play young players here," Patterson said this week.

Maponga actually moved to defensive tackle in the spring, but his speed around the edge made him a better fit at end and during fall camp he beat out 6-6, 272-pound junior Braylon Broughton for the starting job.

"I'm really excited about Stansly Maponga," Patterson said. "He's very physical for his age. Him and Braylon Broughton, I think as they keep going, they'll become very good defensive ends by the middle of the season, if they're not already."