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2021 TCU Football Preview: Quarterbacks

Max Duggan returns for his third season under center. How far can the junior signal caller take the Horned Frog offense?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 28 TCU at Kansas Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When the TCU football team made its first significant leap as a member of the Big 12 Conference in 2014, fans saw quarterback Trevone Boykin elevate his game to another level. Boykin threw a career-high 33 touchdown passes and totaled a career-best 3,904 yards through the air, leading the Horned Frogs to a 12-1 record and a share of the conference championship.

Seven years later, TCU has another promising signal caller entering his third season with the Horned Frog football program in Max Duggan. Should Duggan make a similar leap to the one Boykin made several years ago, TCU could be poised for one of its best seasons in recent years. Through two seasons, Duggan has outpaced Boykin in touchdown passes (25-22) and passing yards (3,872-3,252) while throwing fewer interceptions (17-14).

But some of Duggan’s most explosive plays since becoming the starting quarterback at TCU have been on the ground, where the former four-star prospect from Council Bluffs, Iowa has already surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for his career. In fact, Duggan has outrushed Boykin 1,081-730 and scored 16 touchdowns to Boykin’s 10 over their first two collegiate seasons.

With a full offseason of preparation, Duggan appears primed for a breakout junior season when TCU takes the field this fall. While Duggan should return as the starter, the competition for second and third-team reps will continue throughout fall camp. The Horned Frogs have multiple signal callers battling for time under center including redshirt junior Matthew Downing, Oklahoma transfer Chandler Morris and freshmen Trent Battle, Alex Honig and four-star prospect Sam Jackson.

Downing appeared in four games during the 2020 season, completing 17-of-30 passes for 168 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Morris, who will be eligible for the 2021 season, went 3-for-5 with 39 passing yards as a member of the Sooners in 2020. Honig and Battle both arrive at TCU as three-star prospects, with Honig possessing a big physical frame at 6 feet 6 inches and 247 pounds.

While Honig has been evaluated as a pro-style quarterback, Battle emerged as the No. 1 dual-threat prospect in Alabama before choosing the Horned Frogs. Jackson flipped from Purdue to TCU and arrives on campus as the No. 1 prospect from Illinois according to ESPN. A former wide receiver, Jackson finished his high school career with over 800 receiving yards and over 1,700 passing yards with 30 combined touchdowns.

TCU will have plenty of options at the quarterback positions moving forward, with Duggan serving as the go-to signal caller for the 2021 season. While the Horned Frogs will deploy a pair of veteran options in Downing and Morris, TCU’s freshman trio of Battle, Honig and Jackson add depth and promise to a quarterback room filled with talent. With Sonny Cumbie no longer with the program, TCU will call on former quarterback Kenny Hill to guide the team’s up-and-coming players as the new Horned Frog quarterbacks coach.