25th Valero Alamo Bowl at a glance
The matchup: No. 13 Stanford (9-4) vs. No. 15 TCU (10-3)
When, where: Thursday, 8 p.m., Alamodome
Stanford in the Alamo Bowl: First appearance
TCU in the Alamo Bowl: 1-0, beat Oregon 47-41 (3 OT), Jan. 2, 2016
Stanford-TCU series history: TCU leads 2-0
Last meeting: TCU 31, Stanford 14, Sept. 13, 2008, Fort Worth
Stanford bowl record: 14-13-1
Stanford's last bowl appearance: Beat North Carolina 25-23, Sun Bowl, Dec. 30, 2016
TCU bowl record: 15-16-1
TCU's last bowl appearance: Lost to Georgia 31-23, Liberty Bowl, Dec. 30, 2016
San Antonio grads in the game: Stanford, Richard McNitzky, long snapper, sophomore, MacArthur; Joe McGrath, strong safety, freshman, Alamo Heights. TCU, Ty Summers, linebacker, junior, Reagan.
December started on a disappointing note for TCU junior linebacker Ty Summers, a key cog in the Horned Frogs' defense the last three seasons.
Oklahoma rolled to a 41-17 win over TCU in the Big 12 title game on the first Saturday of the month, dropping the Horned Frogs out of contention for a berth in the College Football Playoff. The loss also knocked TCU (10-3) out of a New Year's Day bowl.
December has gotten progressively better since then for Summers, a 2014 Reagan High School graduate who was a standout quarterback for the Rattlers before moving to defense at TCU.
Two weeks after the loss to OU, Summers had good reason to celebrate when he graduated with a degree in communications. Summers still has one more football game to play this year, and for the second time in three seasons, the Horned Frogs' finale will be in San Antonio.
Summers and his defensive teammates will face the challenge of trying to contain Stanford running back Bryce Love when No. 15 TCU meets the No. 13 Cardinal in the 25th Alamo Bowl on Thursday night at the Alamodome.
“I'm 1-1 at the Alamodome,” Summers said this week. “It would be nice to be 2-1. I'm excited. It's going to be fun.”
Summers said he plans to return for his senior season next year and “finish, hopefully, stronger.” Summers was granted a medical redshirt as a freshman, when he sustained a season-ending injury in TCU's opener that year.
Summers had an outstanding game in the Horned Frogs' thrilling 47-41 triple-overtime comeback win against Oregon in the Alamo Bowl two years ago. Down 31-0 at the half, TCU kicked a field goal with 19 seconds left in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 31 and force OT.
The game that started out as a blowout turned into a classic that ranks as one of college football's most exciting bowl games in history.
“Of course, I mean, it's been on our minds,” Summers said this week, when he was asked if he's had flashbacks of the Horned Frogs' rally since he got to town. “One thing we took from it, I think, the most is to start fast this time, not make it so difficult to come back.
"Just come out, hit the ground running the first quarter. That's what we're taking away from that game, translating into the next one.”
Summers was one of two TCU players with double-digit tackles in the win over Oregon, finishing with 11 stops (eight solo). He had two tackles for loss, with one coming on a sack.
One of the most underrated linebackers in the country, Summers wreaks havoc on offenses with his speed, strength, quickness, toughness and heady play.
“He prepares and he's a smart guy, and he's got athleticism, and those things all tie in together,” TCU defensive coordinator Chad Glasgow said. “But again, it all comes down to preparation. You can be the most athletic person in the world, but if you don't prepare, then you're not going to be successful when the opportunity comes.”
Summers, 6-foot-2 and 242 pounds, is No. 4 on the Horned Frogs' tackle chart with 60 stops, including seven for loss. He has four sacks, one interception and has broken up five passes and deflected six others.
A second-team All-Big 12 selection last year, Summers was second in the Big 12, behind teammate Travin Howard, with 121 tackles.
Summers was a standout dual-threat quarterback at Reagan as a senior in 2013, passing for 2,001 yards and 16 touchdowns and rushing for 1,773 and 31 TDs. The Rattlers won the District 26-5A title under coach David Wetzel that year, and finished 11-1 after losing to Steele in the second round of the playoffs.
Summers started his junior season backing up Kyle Keller at quarterback, but he stepped up and ran the offense when Keller was injured in the Rattlers' third game. But then Summers went down with a broken right collarbone in the same game.
Summers returned to play in Reagan's first-round playoff game against Smithson Valley, taking the field when Keller was injured again.
“I wasn't even supposed to play,” Summers said.
Summers ran for a TD, but he completed only 2 of 7 passes for 19 yards and was intercepted three times in Smithson Valley's 21-14 victory at the Alamodome.
“That's the game I lost at the Alamodome,” he said.
Despite his limited playing time, Summers was offered a scholarship by Rice in the summer before his senior season and he committed to the Owls. Rice planned to make him an H-back on offense.
“After the season, TCU and Baylor called,” Summers said. “I almost didn't even know they were interested because Coach Wetzel didn't think I wanted to play linebacker. But, then my dad reached out to Coach Wetzel and asked him if anyone else was interested in me.”
As things turned out, Summers withdrew his commitment to Rice when the coach who was recruiting him left for another school.
“I opened it up again,” Summers said, referring to his recruitment.
Recruited by Glasgow, Summers committed to TCU after making a formal visit to the Fort Worth school in December 2013.
“We knew he was going to be a linebacker for us from the beginning,” Glasgow said. “We loved his toughness and his athleticism. We got to see him do so many things athletically because he had the ball in his hands all the time. Coach Wetzel said some unbelievable things about him as a leader. We knew he was a high-character kid and a very good student.”
Jerrod Summers beamed when he talked about his son.
“I don't think I can express in words just how proud we are of him,” Jerrod Summers said.
Considering how Ty carries himself on and off the field, it's easy to understand his father's pride.