A non-contact drill in practice will sideline a major plug to TCU’s usually stout defense for the entire season. Sophomore defensive tackle Ross Blacklock tore his Achilles tendon, and now the Horned Frogs are stuck searching for someone to replace him just two weeks before the season opener.
According to 247 Sports and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the 6-foot-4, 330-pounder who started all 14 games last season suffered the injury during Tuesday’s practice and is expected to miss the entire 2018 campaign.
What a massive, massive loss for TCU and head coach Gary Patterson.
A Missouri City, Texas native, Blacklock was projected to be the starting nose tackle on the Horned Frogs defensive line, with Corey Bethley on the inside and Ben Banogu and L.J. Collier on the ends.
He becomes the second setback for the TCU defense as safety Atanza Vongor is also expected to miss the entire season with an undisclosed injury.
Blacklock, who is widely considered a NFL prospect, showed incredible promise last season, too, recording 27 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss with two sacks to earn co-Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors.
So what now?
Well, luckily, Patterson and the Horned Frogs have options and will slide redshirt freshman Terrell Cooper in Blacklock’s place in practice before they open up their season on September 1 against Southern.
At 6-foot-2 and 286 pounds, Cooper, a Lindale, Texas native, doesn’t have the size of Blacklock, but he his fierce and explosive. He recorded 74 tackles, including 12 for loss, with five sacks and two forced fumbles as a junior at Lindale High School.
This is not the kind of news TCU needed. The Horned Frogs, coming off a 39-37 win over Stanford in the 2017 Alamo Bowl, were supposed to have one of the best defensive units in the Big 12 Conference.
That might be up for grabs now. That’s how big of a loss Blacklock’s injury is.