He was supposed to ride out on a white horse, or a Duck. The Alamo Bowl should have been Trevone Boykin's swan song, one last rewriting of the record books, one final chapter in what had become an almost storybook career. But, it was not meant to be.
We all know the story of course; the late night bad decision that turned into a season and possibly career-altering mistake. We know what happened in the months since; the seemingly non-stop work with QB guru, and former Cowboy, Richard Bartel, the vines of the 70 bombs thrown with just a flick of the wrist, the improved footwork, the promise of a more complete quarterback being delivered to Indianapolis. But the Combine didn't go quite as planned; Boykin showed off his excellent arm strength and was better than expected in the passing drills, but his 40 time (4.77) was far below expectation and left him in the upper middle of pack for QBs and near the bottom half for wide receivers. For a player who made his name on elusiveness, his straight line speed left something to be desired.
Trevone Boykin might be the kid who leaned down to a little girl in Ames and won over a fanbase and a nation with a simple question. He might be the young man who stopped after a brutal and demoralizing loss in Stillwater to greet OSU fans with a hug and a handshake. Is he the player who ran summer workouts, earning the trust of his teammates and perfecting his chemistry with Josh Doctson on their way to becoming the best QB-WR tandem in TCU history? Or... is he the person who snuck back out after curfew, got in a fight that left him with an assault charge and a bus ticket back home just days before what should have been his last collegiate game? Until that point, the one thing that nobody question was his leadership and locker room presence. He was THE GUY for TCU for the past two seasons, and even before he became a star, he was someone that Gary Patterson could count on to do whatever was asked of him - quarterback, running back, wide receiver, punt returner... he probably would have kicked extra points if asked. He didn't get angry when Matt Joeckel was brought in to take his job - he attached himself to the transfer from A&M and soaked up his knowledge to the point that he overtook him on the depth chart.
What we can definitely say is that Tre the player set almost every TCU passing record in the past two seasons, as he threw for 64 touchdowns and ran for another 17 over the course of those two years. He showed off a beautiful deep ball, great instinct, and a flair for the dramatic, drawing praise from opposing coaches and players on a regular basis.
He was the face of TCU Football, a finalist for several national awards, a Heisman candidate, and one of the most exciting players in college football.
Tre has been training non-stop since his TCU career came to a close, trying to prove that his small-ish hands and short stature can be overcome at the next level. He showed off his improved footwork and touch on the intermediate ball at his Pro Day, and has continued to draw the interest of talent evaluators as he looks to clear his name from the December incident while also proving he can be an effective QB in the NFL. In addition to all of that, he has worked on his route running and food speed in an effort to keep his options open as a wide receiver prospect in case his dreams of playing under center don't materialize.
I'm not a big fan of the Combine, I'll just say it. I have never understood, how in this day of advanced stats and metrics, the Underwear Olympics remain the go to measuring stick of a collegiate player. To me, the number one most important evaluation is game tape, and Trevone Boykin has a lot of great tape from the past two years.
Anyone who has followed his career has seen it; the smoothness in the pocket, the growth as a passer - and he still has room to grow, don't get me wrong, but look how hard he has been willing to look and how far he has come to this point - the dedication, the love of the game, the headiness on the field... this kid is a quarterback, there's no doubt in my mind. I have zero argument for a team that makes the decision to take Boykin off the board for his transgression in San Antonio - he did the crime, that's his penance to pay, if that's what a team wants to use as a determining factor. But those that are either willing to look past that incident, have accepted his apology and believe it was an isolated incident and not a pattern of behavior, yet still take him off the board because he's a little shorter than what they think a QB should be? Or because he runs a little slower than you want in spandex? That's just dumb, frankly. There is such a thing as game speed, and there isn't a passer coming out in this draft that runs faster or moves quicker in pads than Tre. He played against some of the best pass rushers in the draft over the past two years, and lit up just about every single one of them. Size? Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, Tyrod Taylor? Three guys who fall on the wrong size of 6' tall and are doing just fine, thank you very much. Is he a system guy? That's for a team to judge, but he has proven time and time again he can make every throw and has plus arm strength as far as the NFL is concerned.
Lance Zierlein, NFL.com: "He might be written off as too small or a "system quarterback", but he has shown tremendous growth as a passer and leader while building an impressive resume over the last two seasons. Boykin throws with some anticipation and has the arm talent and mobility to warrant a late-round pick even if he will need extended work learning to read defenses. There is a chance that his arrest at the end of the year could prevent him from being drafted."
Oh... and I would be remiss to not talk about his presence in the huddle and his toughness. What he did against Baylor in the driving rain, and on one leg, would have gone down in history if the weather hadn't stolen the show. He's been incredibly durable for a guy who has run as much as he did, and his patent-pending end zone flips looked like they should take him out, but he bounced up time and time again.
Tre would be well served to go to a team that is willing to let him develop some; he is far from a finished product, but has shown he is coachable and a quick study. The offensive system he joins could be a difference maker as far as his future success is concerned, and a team running some version of the West Coast offense could be ideal.
I think Boykin will be drafted; he's too good off an athlete and has too good of a resume not to be. Some team, probably late in the sixth round, will fall in love with him and deem him worth the pick. San Diego, the Jets, Buffalo, and the Cowboys would all be interesting fits - San Diego and Dallas have older QBs but aren't in an immediate rush to get the next guy ready. There is plenty of buzz as far as Tre staying home and going to the Cowboys is concerned, and their needs at wide receiver and on special teams could give him multiple opportunities for success.
Count me among those that believe in Trevone Boykin. He made a truly bad decision, and the consequences are deserved. But I still believe in the young man I saw over the course of five years in Fort Worth, and am not willing to write him off for what happened that night. I hope he finds the right fit, the right staff, and the right support system to give him an excellent chance at success going forward.