TCU Horned Frogs sophomore quarterback Max Duggan, who started the final 10 games of the 2019 season, has not practiced for much of preseason camp, leaving his availability uncertain when the Horned Frogs start the season against the SMU Mustangs in 23 days.
During a Zoom conference call on Thursday, TCU head coach Gary Patterson confirmed rumors about Duggan and addressed the unspecified condition that is keeping Duggan from practicing.
“Max has a condition that he’s had his whole life and we caught it,” Patterson told reporters. “Right now he’s in a good place and hopefully he’ll be getting back sometime during the season. Right now we’ll be going forward with the rest of the quarterbacks. It’s a thing he was born with and I’m just glad we found it. I can say that.”
A native of Iowa, Duggan arrived in Fort Worth last year as one of the most highly-recruited quarterbacks in school history — he was ranked as the No. 5 dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. Duggan chose TCU over offers from Georgia, Penn State, Notre Dame and Ohio State.
With the position in disarray following injuries and transfers in 2018, Duggan started against SMU, becoming the second true freshman quarterback to start for Patterson at TCU. It was an up-and-down season for Duggan, as he threw for 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but those 15 touchdown passes were a school record for a true freshman, so too his 2,077 passing yards. Duggan also added 555 rushing yards and six touchdowns, demonstrating a dynamic ability with his legs.
Against an injured Texas secondary, Duggan turned in one of his best performances — he averaged 10.1 yards per attempt, his best effort of the season, completed 70.4 percent of his passes, and threw for 273 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, he gained 72 yards and scored a touchdown on 5.54 yards per carry.
Currently taking first-team reps for the Horned Frogs is sophomore Matthew Downing, who transferred to TCU from Georgia, appearing in four games for the Bulldogs in 2018 before leaving Athens.
He redshirted last season due to NCAA rules and received praise from Patterson on Thursday.
“Downing has been the guy that’s taking all the one reps. He just keeps getting better and better,” Patterson said. “The biggest thing is he’s a competitor just like his brother that played here. He’s smart, understands the offense, and he’s a competitor.”
Texas hosts TCU in Austin on Oct. 3.
[8/23 update]: Duggan’s father recently spoke with the Daily Nonpareil to provide some more information on his son’s condition.
“He was going through team protocol where he had an EKG (electrocardiogram), and they discovered this heart abnormality,” Jim Duggan said. “They treated it, and now he’s recovering.”
On Saturday, the younger Duggan addressed his condition on Twitter.
I appreciate all the support I’ve received this week. Thanks to precautionary COVID-19 testing, I learned about a heart condition that I’ve had since birth. I’ve already had the necessary procedure and am on the road to recovery. Thanks for the thoughts and prayers. Go Frogs!— Max Duggan (@MaxDuggan_10) August 23, 2020