Neither TCU nor Fort Worth necessarily needs it, but it would be nice if this time next year TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin is in the Fort Worth Club accepting an award named after a famous TCU alum.
Of the handful of remaining items on TCU’s football to-do list, adding the Davey O’Brien award to the display case in the football office is not essential, but it would be a feather if Boykin was more than a finalist for the best quarterback in college football. Before Boykin’s arrival on Monday night, TCU has never had a finalist for this award; not Andy Dalton, Max Knake or the great Fred Taylor (if you recognize that final name, you should get a life, get a job and have your head examined).
If TCU is going to have the season everybody is projecting it will in 2015, Boykin will at least have to repeat as a finalist, but the safer bet is he needs to do what Marcus Mariota did in 2014.
Mariota entered the 2014 season as a Heisman favorite with Florida State’s Jameis Winston. Mariota left with the Heisman trophy, the O’Brien award, and Oregon won the Rose Bowl over FSU before getting popped in the title game against Ohio State. Mariota was every bit as good, if not better, in 2014 than he was in 2013.
This is simple math, Trevone: Just go be Marcus Mariota and you’re good. How hard can that be?
Unlike last season, where Boykin entered as a former wide receiver who “barely” won the job over Matt Joeckel, he will enter 2015 as a favorite to be the best quarterback in college football. Between now and the start of the season, all he will hear is how great both he and Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott are, and that both are the favorites to be the next Heisman winner.
Mariota and Winston heard the same thing all season long, and despite the latter pulling a few knucklehead acts, it played out that way. Those were the best two quarterbacks in college, and they were both in the college football playoffs. You may recall that these were the same new playoffs that left TCU, and Boykin, out of the final four.
“Any advice I would give to him is just try to ignore it, focus on what you have to do, what you can do to make the team better, and just focus on getting ready for the season,” Mariota said Monday night. “Don’t allow all the preseason hype to get to your head, and just play your game and look forward to another good season.”
Physically, Boykin is not as tall as Mariota and he is not as deadly a two-way threat. Boykin may get there, but he is not yet what Mariota was to Oregon last season when, save for Ohio State, no one could touch him. Mariota threw 42 touchdowns with four interceptions and he ran for an additional 15 TDs.
The striking similarity is their personality. They both get it. Both of these young men are boring and polite to a fault. They breathe and preach “team” the way any school, team, or head could would want. These are guys you want to win.
“I try to treat it the same way we did last year,” Boykin said. “With the group of guys coming back, I feel like we can reach our potential.”
“I’m a little piece of the puzzle,” he said. “We have to grow them up on defense. Last year was last year’s team.”
Trevone Boykin is also fluid in Gary Patterson speak.
Boykin is not “a little piece of the puzzle.” He is the quarterback, and despite his best intention to downplay his role, this guy is not stupid. He knows. If TCU is going to be a Top 5 team throughout the season and make the playoffs, he has to be its best player.
Mariota was Oregon’s best player, and the Ducks reached the title game.
Having been at TCU for what now feels like eight years, Boykin has a pretty good idea what is coming. No longer will this team surprise a soul, and he will not be the former running back/receiver turned quarterback. He is an O’Brien finalist, and he will be a preseason Heisman candidate on a Top 5 team.
“Most people feel like we beat them and snuck up on them,” he said. “When that [target] was on our back I still felt like we played to our potential. We have a great head coach that does not let [the media] get to our head at all. He tries to keep us levelheaded and he’s done a very good job at it.”
Boykin does not need to win the O’Brien award, but it would be nice. Like Mariota, however, Boykin just needs to be his team’s best player if the Frogs’ are going to be as good as we all believe.
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