Like a father and son, TCU coach Gary Patterson and quarterback Trevone Boykin have had “the talk.”
How do you win a Heisman Trophy?
“You’ve just got to let it play out,” Patterson said. “That’s the biggest thing that I’ve been trying to get across to him. Just not to worry about it.”
Boykin, a junior from West Mesquite whose running and passing has steered the Horned Frogs to a 6-1 start and the No. 7 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings, seems to have gotten the message.
“I’m canceling the Heisman talk out,” he said after his school-record seven touchdown passes last week finally made it impossible to ignore his numbers. “It’s an honor and a blessing to be in it. If I win it, I’m truly blessed. But it’s not something I’m really focused on right now. Our team is progressing in the way we want it. That’s my main focus.”
He understands where Heismans come from.
It is mainly about winning, and winning on a big stage. Boykin gets a chance to do that Saturday afternoon at West Virginia on ABC’s No. 1 telecast, and if he wins there, he will likely get a chance on Fox’s prime time telecast at home Nov. 8 against Kansas State.
No easy task.
But it is also a numbers game, and those are also in Boykin’s favor right now.
In his first year as a full-time starter, Boykin ranks third nationally in total yards, a measure of passing and rushing, at 382.9 yards per game. Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel are the only other quarterbacks in the past five years to average more than 300 yards passing and 50 yards rushing, and both won Heismans.
“He is the most improved player in college football,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said.
“After watching him live and in person, he’s got to be the front-runner. He’s that good,” Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “He’s the best player in the country, in my opinion.”
Boykin’s 2,306 passing yards and 21 touchdown passes are on a pace that would leave him with the fifth-most in both categories among the previous 12 quarterbacks who have won the award.
The table is set. The ingredients are in place.
“If we win a lot of ballgames, that probably means he got some great stats, and I think he’ll be a guy who’s had a great year who’ll be considered,” Patterson said. “It’ll be hard for having such a late start, but he knows the way I am. I’ve kind of tried to downplay it, because the more I downplay it, the more people want to talk about it. Then I’ve gotten done what I need to get done. He needs to keep doing what he’s doing, we need to keep playing and scoring points, and defensively we’ve got to stop people. We’ve got some very good teams coming down the road.”
Patteson has been through this before. LaDainian Tomlinson was fourth in the Heisman voting in 2000 (when Patterson was the defensive coordinator), and Andy Dalton was ninth in 2010. The Frogs were 10-1 and Western Athletic Conference co-champions in 2000 when the award went to Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke. They were 12-0 and Mountain West Conference champions in 2010 when Auburn’s Cam Newton won it.
TCU has one Heisman Trophy winner. Davey O’Brien won it in 1938 after an undefeated season.
“As this team has success, no matter what Trevone’s numbers are, the better chance I think Trevone has of truly being a Heisman candidate,” Patterson said. “You got to be able to do that on a big stage. Up to this point, he has done that in a couple of ballgames.”
Ironically, it is as Boykin has stopped thinking about Heisman-like numbers that his Heisman-like numbers have grown.
“He’s grown up a lot in the three years he’s been here, and he handles it a lot better right now,” Patterson said. “But you’ve got to be careful about thinking, ‘Will I not have any numbers? I need to go do this,’ and then you force things and you don’t pick the right read, you try to do too much and all that does is cause everybody trouble. He just needs to worry about winning.”
For Boykin, Heisman talk must be just another unexpected part of his career.
He was a receiver and a running back his first two years at TCU, playing quarterback only because of a suspension of Casey Pachall two years ago and then an injury to Pachall last year — in both cases on short notice. In fact, one of his wins as a starting quarterback was at West Virginia in 2012.
This year, Boykin has been a quarterback from Day One. TCU’s investment in him, with a new offense and new coordinators, has paid off more handsomely than Patterson could have imagined.
“It’s a great story,” Patterson said. “His background, where he’s come from, everything he’s gone through. I saw where Dana was talking about how he caught X amount of balls in our game a year ago as a wideout. Just goes to show you how life changes pretty quickly in the world. You just need to hold on and watch, because it’s going to.”
Strike the Heisman pose?
TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, with 2,306 yards, 21 touchdowns and six victories, has suddenly become a Heisman Trophy candidate. A look at how his projected stats compare with recent Heisman winners:
|Jameis Winston||2013||Florida St.||4,057||40||13-0|
|Johnny Manziel||2012||Texas A&M||3,706||26||10-2|
|Robert Griffin III||2011||Baylor||4,293||37||9-3|
*Projected final stats