Fall 2021

Courtesy of TCU Athletics

Why Max Duggan Chose TCU

The quarterback from Council Bluffs, Iowa, led TCU to its first College Football Playoff appearance and is a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

The senior is the winner of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award and Walter Camp Man of the Year Award. He led TCU to its first 12-0 start since 2010.

Why TCU?

Football was a big part of it.

Portrait of Max Duggan in uniform holding a football

Max Duggan was the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year in 2022. Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Gregg Ellman

But outside of football, I wanted to go somewhere new. I wanted to meet new people from all around the country, see new things, gain new interests, and I wanted to go to a school that would set me up for the future. TCU is highly regarded around the country. It’s in the DFW area. And, since it’s a small school, you’re able to form relationships with people — students, alumni and professors who will help you in the future.

How did you start playing football?

My dad has been a football coach for about 35 years. He played college football. My uncles all played college football. So I kind of grew up in it. I enjoyed it. Ever since I was a little kid, I was on the sidelines and my dad’s games. I was a waterboy. I was always around football.

I have photos of me as a kid running around with a football. I’d wear old Green Bay Packers helmets we had around the house.

When did you realize you were good at football and might build a future with it?

After my freshman year of high school is when I started to realize that it was a real possibility that I could go somewhere. I never expected it to be at TCU or a Power 5. But there were small schools around southwest Iowa that were reaching out to me. After my sophomore year was when I received my offer from Iowa. That’s when it became a reality that I would have a chance to go play Power 5 football.

Are you hoping to play professionally?

Yes. I’m a little different than a lot of kids. A lot of kids have the goal of playing in the NFL. I would love to play in the NFL, but my first goal is that I want to be the best college football player here at TCU. Hopefully that will lead me on to whatever opportunity that brings me — whether that is the NFL or something else. But right now I’m trying to be a person who has played here a long time and has played very well for TCU.

Does being a highly recruited high school player translate into college football success?

From high school to college is drastically different. There are a lot of kids who are very talented and maybe don’t make it, and there are a lot of kids who didn’t get recruited as a high schooler or aren’t as talented who go on to play 15 years in the NFL.

In college, everybody’s talented. Everybody’s good. Everybody works really hard.

Is it intimidating to know you’re playing the best of the best?

I think it’s awesome. I think it’s fun to be around a lot of talented kids, especially here at TCU, and to be able to play in the Big 12 against a bunch of other talented kids from around the country. I find it’s a nice challenge. It’s fun and I enjoy it.

Do you look to any past TCU Football players as role models?

I didn’t know a whole lot of TCU’s history. But once I got here, I started learning more about guys’ journeys, like what Andy Dalton has done coming from Katy, Texas, playing and doing so well. We’ve got guys like LaDainian Tomlinson who have done so much at TCU, in the pros and then come back to do so much for his community. There are a lot of guys like that who I follow along with just to understand the journey of what they did and how it helped them get to where they are today.

Max Duggan holding a football

Max Duggan, a four-sport athlete in high school. Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Sharon Ellman

The quarterback is a true leader in the sport of football. Do you feel comfortable in this role?

There’s no pressure or anything. I think that just comes with the role of being a quarterback, and I think everybody who has played quarterback in major football understands that they are a leader. Essentially you’re an extension of the head coach. Guys need to respect you, follow you and understand you would do anything for them, just like the head coach and all your position coaches would. I think it just comes with the role: You have to be a leader.

What do the fans mean to you?

I love the Frog faithful down here. They’re all diehard fans. A lot of them went to TCU, and a lot of them, if they didn’t, have been all in. The Horned Frogs always support us. It’s always a good time at the games. Fans are always doing as much as they can to help us. We love them and we love to hear them and we can’t wait for them to come back.

Was moving to Texas a big adjustment for you?

The reason why I wanted to come down here is to see new things and meet new people. A lot of people have shown me new things, new food. The weather is still an adjustment: June through August is quite hot, but it’s always nice when it’s March and it’s already 75 degrees.

Max Duggan in uniform on the football field getting ready to throw the football.

Max Duggan’s 81-yard touchdown run against Texas Tech in 2020 was the longest by a quarterback in TCU history. Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Gregg Ellman

You juggle a lot as a student-athlete with academics, football and social life. How do you keep all of those things balanced?

We have a lot of help here at TCU, through Athletics, that puts us in a good position. The biggest thing is just time management skills, understanding priorities and what I need to get done before relaxing.

You mentioned support — you have academic advisers, a dietitian, strength and conditioning, the coaching staff. What does it feel like to have all of those people supporting your success?

I love it. Everybody in Athletics has done a great job of making everybody feel at home, making sure we know that if we need anything we can always ask for help. From the tutors, coaches, nutrition staff, weight room to the media team, all those people have done a great job making me feel at home and making sure that if I need anything I can always ask them. They will do anything for us.

How did you get into the specific quarterback role?

I always played quarterback as a kid. I think it was because my dad played quarterback and he taught me from a young age.

Does your dad still coach you?

He comes to every single game. He’s done coaching now, but he still has on the coach hat. He’ll let me know what I probably did wrong, or possibly what I did right.

How do you get your mind ready for the games?

To get really into games, I don’t do a whole lot. I like to be by myself and relax. I just put my headphones in and listen to music and do all my warmups.

You’re a big football fan, but you’re focused on your own game during the season. How do you feed your fandom?

I grew up a huge football fan. I would sit and watch college football or NFL RedZone all day. That’s any sport, really. When we’re in season, I don’t get to watch a whole lot of college football. Whether we play at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m., usually we’re down on the field and miss all the games. If we have a night game I might be able to catch the beginning of an 11 a.m. game. I don’t get to watch much of the NFL because we practice or have meetings on Sundays. I get to check updates later in the week or see how people are doing on Twitter — that’s how I try to stay in the loop.

Is football your favorite sport?

Football is my favorite sport. I played four sports growing up: football, basketball, baseball and track, so I enjoy a bunch of other sports.

What event did you do in track?

Sprints — 100s, 200s, 400s — ran hurdles, high jumped.

Max Duggan in uniform holding a football

Courtesy of TCU Athletics | Photo by Gregg Ellman

Do you miss playing the other sports?

I miss them. Whenever I get a chance, I love to play basketball. I miss playing baseball. Track, not as much. I don’t really miss running sprints every day at practice or anything like that. But the meets were fun.

How do you support other TCU teams?

I have a lot of friends on the beach volleyball team, so we’re rooting for them. I have buddies on the baseball team. It’s nice to be able to show support. I’m friends with athletes. In the fall it’s hard to support some sports like the volleyball girls, but it’s nice to see they’re all doing very well.

Does it feel like you’re having the full college experience or like a bonus college experience?

The college experience has been awesome. TCU is unique in the way that it is a small school, so you get to form those relationships with everybody, but you have the big school feel as a Power 5. You have all these activities and clubs; you have Greek life on campus. It’s unique that you can see all these teams that are top five or top 10 in the country, and you actually have a relationship with them — they know you, you’ve hung out a lot.

Why are you majoring in marketing?

I wanted to go into business. When I came down here on one of my visits, marketing professor Bob Akin talked to me and kind of persuaded me a little bit into it. I stay in touch with him all the time. He was one of the reasons I came here. And I’m now a marketing major.

Editor’s Note: The questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Your comments are welcome


  1. Great comments on Max Duggan, he Will be a STAR for TCU. We are rooting for him, now that I have a wonderful daughter starting at TCU. Keep up the good work at TCU.

  2. Max has what we call “Frog Factor.”

    As a fellow graduate of TCU Max exemplifies what makes this university so great! Really refreshing to hear from him.

  3. Max is just another reason I think so highly of Coach Patterson and our entire athletic team. They build more than athletes that can win a game. They help mold and support young athletes in life skills, and to be well rounded individuals. Max is a perfect example of that. Go Frogs ! And thank you Max for being a great example of sportsmanship on and off the field.

  4. wow epic i proud

  5. This is one good football player! He was raised in a good home but you can’t teach the drive he has inside! Whatever he does iin his life he’ll be a winner & what made me realize how much determination he has was how he conducted his post-game interview after losing to Kansas State in or! He couldn’t hold back the tears & emotions after giving so much in the Big 12 championship game plus not knowing if they were making the playoffs!
    That loss hurt him more than not winning the Heisman! I personally think he should have won the Heisman because I watch him all year and he was the most outstanding player in college football!

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