FORT WORTH, Texas — Max Duggan really hasn’t had time to reflect on his career at TCU, where the four-year starting quarterback’s final snap came in the national championship game. The Heisman Trophy runner-up hasn’t even stopped throwing while getting ready for the NFL combine and draft.
The beloved TCU quarterback, who has been in Southern California training since a few days after the national title game loss, was back in Fort Worth on Monday night for the presentation of the Davey O’Brien Award — whose namesake is the school’s only Heisman Trophy winner, when leading the Horned Frogs to an undefeated season and their only AP national title in 1938.
“It means so much to our program, for TCU, because we obviously understand what Davey O’Brien did for TCU, what he did for just college football,” said Duggan, the first TCU player to win the award given annually to a top quarterback. “There’s so much pride for that he did for our program, and building it up and setting a milestone for TCU programs to strive for.”
While Duggan and the Horned Frogs lost a lopsided national championship game to Georgia, they tied a school record with 13 wins by beating Michigan in the College Football Playoff semifinal Fiesta Bowl.
“I probably haven’t even done a whole time of reflecting on what happened this season,” he said. “Obviously we’re disappointed what happened in the national championship game. … But that doesn’t take away from the special season that we had as a program, to be able to share that with players, coaching staff, our fans, the city of Fort Worth and TCU. People are going to remember this season for a long time.”
Even though he still had another season of eligibility available after starting 43 games for TCU, Duggan decided after extended conversations with his family and coach Sonny Dykes that it was the right time to make himself available for the NFL draft. He graduated from TCU’s business school in December.
Duggan was at the Senior Bowl and now is among several draft prospects working in California with former NFL quarterback Jordan Palmer. The NFL combine starts next week, before TCU’s pro day at the end of March and the draft in late April.
Most draft projections have Duggan being a late-round pick on the third and final day. That doesn’t bother him.
“You’ve just got to have one team that, you know, falls in love with you, that likes your game, likes you as a person, what you do on and off the field. And I think that’s what really matters in my eyes,” he said. “I understand I’m not one of the top guys.”
Four former Big 12 quarterbacks started games in the NFL playoffs this season, including both Super Bowl starters: MVP Patrick Mahomes of the champion Kansas City Chiefs, and Heisman Trophy runner-up Jalen Hurts for the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles. The others were seventh-round draft picks last year.
Former Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson started a playoff game for Miami. Former Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy, the very last player selected in the draft, was the starter for San Francisco as the 49ers made it to the NFC title game.
“I’ve been able to compete the last couple of years with Brock, Skylar and Jalen. To see them go have success, you see what type of league that the Big 12 is,” Duggan said. “I think you’ve seen them, whether they are kind of picks towards the end of the draft, they seem to have success, so it’s been fun to watch them.”