It doesn’t sound like Trevone Boykin wants to remember a lot about his past at TCU.
When he was a running back.
Then a receiver.
Then a starting quarterback on two days’ notice.
“I really can’t say I remember. It was so long ago,” he said, asked about the day in 2012 that he learned he would have to be the quarterback in place of Casey Pachall for a game against Iowa State. “It hit me kind of fast. I just knew I needed to get in there and try to get as much work in as possible in a short amount of time.”
Boykin lost that start. But a week later, he authored a 49-21 victory at Baylor that legitimized the potential the Horned Frogs saw in the redshirt freshman from Mesquite. The young, raw, nervous quarterback threw for four touchdowns and ran for one — Baylor hasn’t lost at home since.
Now, as TCU returns to Waco on Saturday for its first game in the new McLane Stadium, Boykin comes back as a full-fledged starting quarterback, leading an unbeaten team in a Power 5 conference. His days at other positions are over.
“He was kind of thrown into the fire when he first got here,” cornerback Kevin White said. “It didn’t help that he was a running back, then a receiver, then told you’re going to have to play quarterback this week. That’s tough for anybody to deal with. But hard work, and being the competitor he is, it was only a matter of time for him to be playing the way he’s playing.”
TCU invested in Boykin at quarterback from Day One of spring practice this year. He was put through an education in every detail of a new offense built to take advantage of his strengths. He learned the routes and sight adjustments from new offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie, who brought the scheme from Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. He took a competitive push from former Texas A&M quarterback Matt Joeckel. And he put a new focus on “the we part of it,” in coach Gary Patterson’s words.
“I’ve been a Trevone Boykin fan for a while,” Patterson said. “I’m the one that’s always believed in Trevone. That’s why we recruited him. That’s why we signed him. He’s just maturing and growing up. I think this offense fits him. I think coach Cumbie and coach Meacham have done a great job of helping mature him. They’ve gotten him to think we, not I, which happens with young quarterbacks. They get excited about throwing for a lot of yards and touchdowns, but it really comes down to winning.”
If it comes down to winning, Boykin has done his job. The Frogs are 4-0 behind him as they enter the high-stakes game against Baylor.
His development has given TCU a chance to be competitive at the quarterback position against every team in the Big 12.
Last week, Boykin outdueled Oklahoma’s Sugar Bowl MVP, Trevor Knight. On Saturday, he may have to be as good or better than Baylor’s Bryce Petty. Next week, he has to face off against Oklahoma State’s Daxx Garman. And November will bring matchups against West Virginia’s Clint Trickett and Kansas State’s Jake Waters.
It is a lot to expect from Boykin. But his performance for an unbeaten team suddenly in the Top 10 has raised expectations.
“I’m not going to put that type of stress on myself,” he said. “I’m just going to go out and have fun and be the same person I was since Day One. A lot of this is about having fun.”
His teammates sense that, but they have noticed tangible changes in Boykin this year.
“I’ve seen a lot of improvement in him, like his work ethic, his attention to detail — the way he does things in practice,” receiver David Porter said. “It’s mainly just the little attention to detail things.
“He does like to be perfect. When he isn’t, sometimes he does beat himself up a little bit. We have to let him know that not everything is going to be perfect. You got to be pushing and keep fighting. That’s what’s helped him be the quarterback that he is now.”
Patterson has seen enough to know he can go forward with his new full-time quarterback. Patterson’s belief that he could remake an offense around him is looking more and more like the right idea.
“He’s not perfect. None of us is going to be,” Patterson said. “All of us have been real proud of him. He’s done a great job up to this point.”
TCU (4-0, 1-0) at Baylor (5-0, 2-0)
2:30 p.m. Saturday
TV: WFAA/Ch. 8
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Three story lines
Win at quarterback. Trevone Boykin was as good or better than Trevor Knight last week. He needs to match or be better than Bryce Petty.
Restore intensity. The Frogs spent the week trying to bring their emotions back to earth, then steadily build up to last week’s level. Baylor is already there.
Survive the island. TCU wants to play strength on strength against Baylor’s running game. But that means leaving the cornerbacks on their own — a tricky balance.
A rundown of Trevone Boykin’s accomplishments four games into 2014: