TCU’s Summers switches to defense
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FORT WORTH, Texas
Ty Summers was an all-district, dual-threat quarterback in high school, accounting for nearly 3,800 total yards and 47 touchdowns as a senior.
Since he started playing for No. 15 TCU, Summers has been on the other side, chasing quarterbacks and making tackles all over the field.
“It’s fun having the ball and all, but it is fun to be able to chase these guys and throw them on the ground a little bit,” Summers said with a smile.
After three seasons as primarily a linebacker, Summers started the first two games of his senior season as the right end in TCU’s 4-2-5 defense. The 6-2, 235-pound Summers has a quarterback sack in each of those games.
“He’s a Swiss-army knife. I think you can do anything with Ty Summers,” senior safety Niko Small said Tuesday. “He’s so athletic, he’s so strong and big. ... I think just the hard work and dedication and the leadership he puts in, it allows him to do the things we need to have him do for us.”
When the Frogs (2-0) play No. 4 Ohio State (2-0) on Saturday night, Summers could be playing linebacker again with the expected return of senior end L.J. Collier, who missed the first two games.
While Summers isn’t a prototype defensive end , coach Gary Patterson mentioned Jerry Hughes, a 6-2 end who was a first-round draft pick out of TCU in 2010 and is now in his ninth NFL season. Patterson quickly clarified that he was “not saying he’s Jerry Hughes,” but talked about the smartness, quickness and experience of Summers.
Summers remembers playing defensive end when he was about 10 years old, but had no other real experience on defense until getting to TCU with Patterson, the defensive-minded head coach who often converts offensive skill guys into standout defenders.
“I’d play nose guard if I could come play for a Big 12 team, and so the fact that I was able to play linebacker, which is something that I also saw myself potentially playing, and other schools thought the same thing, I kind of settled with the idea,” Summers said. “To be able to play in a position that he saw that I’d be successful at, apparently I guess he was right. I found some success.”
The Frogs were looking for a linebacker to fill out their 2014 recruiting class when Patterson spoke with Summers’ high school coach about the player who had already committed to Rice.
“He played quarterback, so he could communicate. ... He was one of the last guys that we committed,” Patterson said. “Usually if you can get anybody with a little bit of football sense, has some intelligence, they know how to work hard, good person, has the framework to be able to be big and do it, you’ve got a chance for that guy to get a chance to be a good player.”
Summers has been more than just a good player in 43 games for TCU.
His 278 career tackles are the fourth-most in Patterson’s 18 seasons as head coach, 65 shy of matching former teammate Travin Howard for the most. As starting linebackers together in 2016, they were top two Big 12 tacklers — Howard with 130 and Summers with 121.
The 26 career starts by Summers (23 at linebacker, three at end) are the most among current Frogs, as are his tackles — nearly twice as many as Small’s 141, which are the second-most in 25 starts.
“I think No. 42 (Summers), I don’t know his name, is one of the better players in the country,” Southern University coach Dawson Odums said after his team lost its season opener at TCU. “We’re not talking about this ballgame. I’m talking about in the country — NFL, college, high school — he’s one of the best.”