TCU Mania Overtakes Fort Worth With Max Duggan Turning Into a Heisman Worthy Myth Maker — An Incredibly True QB Tale
The Comeback Creator Eyes a National Championship ChanceBY Courtney Dabney // 12.08.22
TCU quarterback Max Duggan seems to soar under pressure. He's up for the Heisman and TCU is in the college football playoffs.
Max Duggan surrounded by team mates the moment it was announced that the team was headed to the College Football Playoffs.
Max Duggan led TCU to a 12-1 season, ranked No. 3 in the nation.
Max Duggan was TCU's third leading rusher this season propelling his team to its first ever slot in the National Championship.
Max Duggan exits the team bus at AT&T Stadium ahead of the Big 12 Championship.
TCU quarterback Max Duggan’s rise to Heisman Trophy finalist is one of the best stories in sports. And Fort Worth is all in. The city has grown increasingly more purple throughout the fall, as TCU’s magical season came into focus. Everyone seems to be wearing their favorite shade of purple these days with the college football playoffs beckoning. From light lavender to rich royal purple — and not just on game day.
Duggan — who didn’t even come into the season as the starting quarterback, needing an injury to take over in the first game — is the primary purple conductor. Using his head as well as his heart and legs, Duggan snatched victories away from rival teams with some awe-inspiring, often nail-biting, come-from-behind performances.
USC quarterback Caleb Williams remains the overwhelming betting favorite to win the Heisman in this Saturday night’s ceremony, which will be broadcast live on ESPN at 7 pm. But Duggan has emerged as something of a dark horse contender, which is fitting for this underdog who could. More importantly to TCU fanatics — and anyone who cares about college football — Duggan has 12-1 TCU in the college football playoffs, set to take on 13-0 Michigan in semifinals at 3 pm on December 31st.
Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud and defending national champion Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett are the other two Heisman finalists.
Of course, TCU has been here before ― 84 years ago, when Horned Frogs quarterback Davey O’Brien won a Heisman in 1938 after carrying his team to an undefeated season. The 2022 football season has felt almost like a little bit of history repeating itself for TCU and a smitten Fort Worth.
Max Duggan’s play this season has made many believe. From octogenarians who cut their teeth on tales of the 5-foot-7 Davey O’Brien’s greatness (he remains the shortest player to ever win the Heisman), but deep down never thought they’d see a Duggan day like this to middle-aged Horned Frogs devotees like me.
Watching Max Duggan seemingly come back from unsurmountable odds all season ― as spectators mumbled in near unison, “Well that’s the game,” at one point or another, packing their stadium chairs for an early exit, only to be proven wrong time after time — has been a thrilling ride.
The stats tell a fuller story of the season, and how often Duggan used his own legs to get the job done. His passing yards come in at an impressive 3,321. But while running back Kendre Miller led TCU with an impressive 1,342 rushing yards and the team’s second-highest rusher this season was the stalwart Emari Demercado with 472 of his own, Duggan came in third. The unimposing looking quarterback rushed for 404 yards himself.
Duggan often turned third downs turned into touchdowns. While Miller racked up 17 touchdowns, TCU’s quarterback ended the season with six rushing touchdowns of his own, the second most on the team. Numbers don’t lie. Neither do big moments.
Max Duggan and the Power of Finishing Strong
Duggan only strengthened his Heisman case in TCU’s overtime loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship game. He orchestrated the game-tying drive seemingly on sheer will, rushing six times for 95 yards and then hitting tight end Jared Wiley for a game-tying, overtime-forcing two point conversion.
TCU’s never-say-die quarterback has already won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year honors (by a unanimous margin). Max Duggan has overcome so much to get here — including a nine-hour open heart surgery for a potentially fatal heart condition only discovered because of testing required for the 2020 COVID college football season.
Now, Duggan seems to have all of Fort Worth along for the ride.