TCU quarterback Max Duggan announced as a finalist for Heisman Trophy


Quarterback Max Duggan pre game v.s. Texas at Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium on November 12, 2022 (Tristen Smith / TCU 360)

By Micah Pearce, Staff Writer

No. 3 TCU’s quarterback Max Duggan was announced as a finalist for the 2022 Heisman Trophy.

The roller coaster of emotions continues for TCU. On Saturday, the Frogs lost the Big 12 Championship to Kansas State by a field goal in overtime. The next morning, they got the news that they would play No. 2 Michigan in the College Football Playoff semi-final game.

A little over 24 hours later, the senior quarterback who lost his job as TCU’s starter at the beginning of the season was announced as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

The senior from Council Bluffs, Iowa went through obstacles just to get to where he is today. He had a nine-hour open heart surgery for a heart condition that was discovered before the 2020 season. He lost his job as TCU’s starting quarterback at the end of the 2021 season.

Then, the coach who had recruited him and coached him through his first three years, Gary Patterson, was relieved as head coach.

Duggan said the team morale has been low over the last few seasons, the confidence has been low, but “you keep getting back up,” adding that “a lot of people have helped” him get to where he is now.

When new head coach Sonny Dykes came in, Duggan could have hit the transfer portal like many players do when the coach that recruited them leaves. For Duggan, that wasn’t the plan.

“You get some other schools where people say they love that school and it really depends if they win on Saturdays,” said Duggan. “There’s more than that at TCU, people will go and always support this university.”

Duggan couldn’t have imagined he would be here at the beginning of the season.

“I don’t know what I would’ve said to you if you said this is where I was gonna end up at,” he said. “But that’s what happens when you stay the course, stay at a place you love and continue to work hard.”

This season, Duggan has thrown for 3,321 yards, 30 touchdowns and one interception on the season. He has also tallied 404 yards rushing for six touchdowns.

Through the season, he’s led the Frogs to a 12-1 record and the Big 12’s first 9-0 conference record since 2016. Duggan has also been nominated for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award, Manning Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year.

Duggan was announced as the winner of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which he will be awarded on Wednesday in Baltimore. After he receives the award, he’ll travel to Manhattan to attend the Heisman ceremony.

He was also unanimously awarded Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.

The only other winner of the Heisman in TCU’s history was Davey O’Brien in 1938, which was the year the Frogs won their second national championship. The last finalist TCU had for the Heisman Trophy was running back LaDainian Tomlinson in 2000.

San Diego Chargers LaDainian Tomlinson (21) runs in the open field against the Green Bay Packers during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 23, 2007, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash) (AP)

“When you get this type of recognition, it means so much to me and my family,” said Duggan. “It’s also something this fanbase and this program can be proud of.”

He mentioned TCU’s history of finalists.

“I know how proud we are of [Tomlinson] being a finalist and Davey O’Brien,” he said. “We’re proud of that ’til this day.”

Before that, former quarterback Trevone Boykin was fourth in Heisman voting in 2014 when the Frogs were left out of the College Football Playoffs. They went on to beat No. 9 Ole Miss 42-3 in the Peach Bowl.

No. 1 Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett is another of the four finalists. He has accrued 3,425 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and 184 rushing yards with seven touchdowns.

No. 4 Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud is also in the running. He has passed for 37 touchdowns and six interceptions with 3,340 passing yards and run for 74 yards and zero touchdowns.

No. 5 USC quarterback Caleb Williams is the final contender for the award. He’s thrown for 4,075 yards, 37 touchdowns and four interceptions. With his legs, he’s picked up 372 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. Williams left Oklahoma to follow head coach Lincoln Riley to Southern California.

Duggan stayed humble, as he always has, and didn’t make an exact case for why he should win the Heisman Trophy.

“I’m just fortunate to be in this position right now,” he said.

Duggan has had multiple ‘Heisman’ moments this year.

Against Oklahoma, he became the first player since Lamar Jackson in 2016 to throw a touchdown pass and have a rushing touchdown of 60 yards in the first quarter of a game. His reception was 73 yards to wide receiver Taye Barber and his own touchdown was a 67-yard rush. They happened just 1:18 apart from each other.

Against Baylor in Waco, Duggan led the Frogs down the field in the fourth quarter while they were down 28-20. The first of TCU’s last two drives of the game ended in a touchdown. The defense made a stop and Duggan led the Frogs back down the field, putting the ball in field goal range for kicker Griffin Kell, who would win the game in walk-off fashion.

Finally, against Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship, the Frogs were down by 11 with 7:34 left in the game. TCU got a field goal to reduce the deficit to 8. Then, Duggan led a drive where he ran for 95 yards on 6 plays, including an 8-yarder that put him in the end zone. Without breath, he threw a pass to tight end Jared Wiley for a 2-point conversion that tied the game.

TCU quarterback Max Duggan kneels in the end zone after rushing for a touchdown against Kansas State. He ran for 95 total yards on this drive. Dec. 3, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) (AP)

Duggan has remained humble throughout the season about his accomplishments. That hasn’t changed with the recent announcement.

“I think it gets lost in a lot of these awards that football is still a team sport,” said Duggan. “It’s not just one guy pulling the trigger.”

He just wants his team to win.

“Even without [the Heisman candidacy], I’d be as happy as I am today, whether I was playing or not,” said Duggan. “Getting to be here at TCU when we’re winning – that’s what I wanted when I came out of high school.”