TCU tight end Jared Wiley has one more season to play, and there was no question in his mind he was going to finish it up with the Horned Frogs.
After last season, there was no way he was going to leave — even after how it ended.
“I wouldn’t say that influenced me at all,” Wiley said. “I just thought it was the best fit for me. I’ll say this every time I’m asked — I’ve had a blast here and I was in no rush to make another move.”
Wiley had a COVID year to use after starting his college career in 2019. But after three seasons at Texas, during which he went through a coaching change, and one season at TCU, which went through a coaching change in his transfer year, he valued the stability of remaining in Fort Worth to play out his final year.
He was also rewarded with the Horned Frogs’ incredible run to the College Football Playoff national championship game last season. Even though he and the Horned Frogs lost to Georgia, 65-7, they did win 13 games and became the first Big 12 team to win a CFP game of any kind after beating Michigan, 51-45, in the semifinal.
The Horned Frogs were not picked to win the Big 12 after losing the Big 12 Championship Game to Kansas State in overtime. But Wiley doesn’t seem too worried about the Horned Frogs having to fight for respect again.
“That was a week-in, week-out thing last year,” Wiley said. “How many times did we look up last year and we were picked to lose a certain game? I’m not too worried about it. They’ll wake up sooner or later.”
Personally, he’s coming off a career season and he’s going to work with a new offensive coordinator in Kendal Briles that has a reputation for spotlighting players at Wiley’s position.
“I really like his offense,” Wiley said. “It’s very tight end-heavy, so you know, obviously I’m going to be interested in that.”
Former coordinator Garrett Riley ran similar principles to Briles, but Wiley described Riley’s offense as having more “freedom.” But Briles’ philosophy of taking what the defense gives you fits in well with a tight end that can find soft spots in defenses six to eight yards from the line of scrimmage, make a catch and run after the catch.
“It’s really simple,” Wiley said. “It’s really simplified for everybody.”
After three seasons at Texas, Wiley transferred to TCU, where he caught 24 passes, which eclipsed what he did in three season with Texas. Four of those catches were for touchdowns. He earned All-Big 12 Honorable Mention.
He made two important catches, too. His 10-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Max Duggan tied the Horned Frogs’ game with Oklahoma State with less than two minutes to play, a game that the Horned Frogs ultimately won in double-overtime.
In the Big 12 Championship Game he caught a two-point conversation pass from Duggan that sealed an 11-point comeback and sent that game with Kansas State to overtime.
Wiley’s career started at Texas, where the Longhorns signed him as the No. 97 prospect in Texas and No. 31 at tight end nationally by Rivals. It was a good match on paper. He played high school football at Temple, a little over an hour north of Austin.
He got some playing time right way as a freshman in 2019, starting in two games and caught his first career pass in the season finale against Texas Tech.
In 2020 he played in all nine games with two starts, catching nine passes for 166 yards and his first career touchdown.
Then came the coaching change from Tom Herman to Steve Sarkisian. Wiley played Sarkisian’s first year in 2022 and made eight starts and played in 11 games. But his numbers didn’t go up appreciably — nine receptions for 67 yards and two touchdowns.
Stability was part of his reasoning for coming back to TCU. So was keeping TCU among the nation’s best football programs in 2023.
“We’re not a flashy school that everybody talks about, honestly,” Wiley said. “It’s up to us to put TCU back on the national map.”
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.