Leaving his team was agonizing, TCU quarterback Casey Pachall said, but looking back 10 months later, it was the best thing that could have happened to him.
Speaking to the media Wednesday for the first time since he left the team in October after an arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence, Pachall took questions for about 10 minutes, answering steadily and looking relaxed.
“I’ve matured a lot,” Pachall said. “Everything that’s happened has really humbled me and helped me out as far as my mentality. Everything that’s happened happened for a reason and I understand that now. I’m actually very grateful for it now.”
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Pachall left the team after the fourth game in 2012. He spent three months receiving treatment for alcohol at a substance abuse center and returned to school in January. He is scheduled to graduate in December.
Pachall mentioned multiple times his desire to worry only about what he could control, an often-used mantra in substance-abuse rehabilitation programs. He said he’ll use that perspective dealing with fans and those who question whether he should have been given a chance at redemption.
“They’re entitled to that,” he said. “No matter what anybody has to say — negative or positive — I can only control myself and control what I do and that’s what’s going to keep me moving forward.”
The toughest aspect of his ordeal, Pachall said, was watching TCU games the rest of the season. The Frogs were 4-0 with Pachall as a starter and went 3-6 the rest of the season.
“It was pretty tough,” he said. “Watching those games on Saturday wasn’t easy at all; sometimes I couldn’t even watch them. Seeing, at times, my team struggle … I know the feeling of losing and it’s not good.”
About two weeks into his treatment, he decided that the decision to leave the team was clearly the correct move.
“I did have that little moment of clarity and realized I was screwing everything up and it was completely my fault that I’m in the position I’m in,” he said.
Pachall said he didn’t say much to his teammates when he rejoined the team in January.
“I could tell by the look in their eyes that they didn’t have too much judgment but I knew at the same time I had let them down,” he said. “Coming back it wasn’t as much what I needed to say, it was what I needed to do. From that point on it was just a mentality I had to have on and off the field to prove to them that they could trust me and I could be their leader.”
Coach Gary Patterson, who spoke to the media for more than 30 minutes before Pachall, said it was Pachall’s decision to break his silence during the team’s media luncheon. The Horned Frogs’ first practice is at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Patterson reiterated that Pachall, a senior, and sophomore Trevone Boykin, who replaced Pachall last season, will battle for the starting job. TCU opens the season Aug. 31 against LSU at AT&T Stadium.
“It’s not going to be one of those where we split 50/50, one is going to be the starting quarterback,” Patterson said. “If it’s a tie the older guy is going to win.”
Boykin threw for 2,054 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2012. He said he and Pachall routinely talk, text and eat dinner together. The battle for playing time won’t affect that friendship, he said. “We’re a team.”
Pachall threw for 948 yards and 10 touchdowns with only one interception in four games last season.
“The only thing I can control is how I perform on the field in practice all through two-a-days and how I conduct myself off the field,” he said. “I can’t stress out about it, or I can’t worry about trying to get my spot back. All I can do is know at the end of each day that I put forth 100 percent and do everything I could for myself and my teammates and the rest will fall into place.”
Pachall was named to the All-Big 12 preseason team by the media two weeks ago. Still, not everyone expects him to return to his 2011 form when he set TCU records for yards (2,921), completions (228) and completion percentage (66.5).
“I don’t feel I have too much to prove to anybody,” he said. “I feel like, for me and my teammates, it’s all about each game of the season and winning each one of those. That may came along with it, it may seem like I’m proving something but really I just want to line up on that field and play with my teammates and friends.”