The last uniform Max Duggan wore witnessed a run at both the Heisman Trophy and national title. And it came through his desire to stay with Texas Christian in the era of the NCAA transfer portal and with him overcoming a rare heart condition.
Now out of the TCU Horned Frogs’ game-day attire, the rookie quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers will aim to continue his personal success wave, though new challenges await inside the team’s facility.
Max Duggan Tested Plenty of Times in Fort Worth Before NFL Career
With the way Duggan was tested, he ought to get an award for loyalty to one university in a time where players jump to multiple places if they lose their starting spot.
Duggan began his career as a true freshman starting quarterback — playing in all 12 games but finishing with 15 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and going 5-7 overall. In the truncated COVID-19 season of 2020, he was limited to 10 games but went 6-4 with 10 touchdowns and four picks.
The 2021 season, though, was the test-of-character season. It ended up becoming the last of the longtime Gary Patterson era, as he resigned during the season. Patterson was the same head coach who gave Duggan his chance to lead the Horned Frogs. Then came along Sonny Dykes from Battle of the Iron Skillet rival Southern Methodist.
Most coaching changes now would mean dipping into the transfer portal and rolling with a guy who best fits the offense. In Dykes’ case, he allowed Chandler Morris from Big 12 rival Oklahoma to come on board, considering he came from a similar Air Raid attack the head coach runs. And momentarily, Duggan played behind Morris.
But on Sept. 10, Duggan reclaimed the QB reins and responded with a 390-yard, five-touchdown outing versus Tarleton State…and Duggan never relinquished the QB1 role in TCU from then. He went on to produce six games of three touchdowns before ending ’22 with 3,321 yards, 30 touchdowns, and just four interceptions.
For his individual perseverance, Duggan became a finalist for the coveted Heisman Trophy. He additionally got to taste TCU’s first-ever College Football Playoff win in the shootout victory over Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl. Unfortunately, Duggan’s CFB career ended with a 65-7 drubbing at the hands of Georgia inside SoFi Stadium.
Now, Duggan’s aiming for new, far different memories inside SoFi…as it becomes his newest football home. But again, new challenges await.
Can Duggan Stick Around the Roster?
The first preseason game didn’t offer much guarantee.
Yes, while Duggan was the winning quarterback this time over Georgia’s Stetson Bennett in their rare rematch on Aug. 12, the former was still considered the underwhelming QB in the 34-17 Chargers win over the Los Angeles Rams.
Duggan was only limited to three passing attempts. Although he completed two, he was smacked by an undrafted rookie on this sack which shows a slow reaction to the blindside attack. It also catches Duggan locking his eyes on one side of the field for three seconds.
Rams undrafted rookie Tanner Ingle blows up Chargers seventh-round pick Max Duggan for a sack to end the third quarter. Ingle was always a missile at NC State. pic.twitter.com/QAVOotsvZ2
— Seven Rounds in Heaven (@7RoundsInHeaven) August 13, 2023
Even before that play, PFN’s Ian Cummings identified how Duggan struggled with sensing oncoming defenders in his draft evaluation. He additionally added that Duggan isn’t much of a creator against the rush and lacked elite arm talent.
While he did take off and run on a 19-yard scamper, it doesn’t make Duggan the lone mobile passer on L.A.’s roster. Justin Herbert was rewarded with his record-setting $262.5 million deal for his ability to throw and run. The Bolts additionally have another dual-threat option in Easton Stick, who operated in an RPO (run-pass option) system and has been with the franchise much longer — even before Herbert.
The good news for Duggan, though, is that he has a chance to stick around as the Chargers’ third QB option…since there are no other quarterbacks on the roster.
Nevertheless, he still needs a stronger Sunday outing versus the New Orleans Saints and one more solid preseason outing versus the San Francisco 49ers on Aug. 25 to continue his own personal success wave and stick with L.A.