STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Sports Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – Trevone Boykin sprinted forward and hurled himself into the end zone with an acrobatic somersault.
No big deal.
“I can probably do backflips all the way down the field. I’ve been doing that since I was little,” Boykin said. “I practiced it a little when I was young, but when it started coming to me, it was pretty easy.”
Much like playing quarterback in TCU’s new up-tempo offense this season. The Horned Frogs are a playoff contender in only their third year as part of a power conference, and Boykin is increasingly part of the Heisman Trophy conversation.
“He just wants to go out there and compete,” said David Porter, who used to go through receiver drills with Boykin in practice. “No matter where you put him on the field, he’ll succeed.”
Boykin is the only Horned Frogs player ever with a 200-yard passing game, 100-yard receiving game and 100-yard rushing game in the same season. That was last year, when he started the season opener at receiver and his six starts at quarterback didn’t come until after senior Casey Pachall broke his non-throwing arm.
As a redshirt freshman in 2012, TCU’s inaugural Big 12 season, Boykin had moved to running back in practice with the anticipation of playing in place of some injured teammates. Midway through that same week, less than three days before a game against Iowa State, he instead became the starting quarterback after Pachall was arrested on a DWI charge and left school for the rest of the semester to get treatment for substance abuse.
“Being the No. 2 guy, you’ve got to be ready, so I wasn’t really forced into it. It just happened in a short period of time,” Boykin said. “I learned a lot from my first start to now. It’s been crazy, it’s been an up-and-down ride, a roller coaster like the last couple of years. But this year, I feel like we’ve settled down as a team.”
The Frogs (9-1 overall, 6-1 Big 12, No. 5 CFP rankings, No. 5 AP poll) are off this weekend before playing Thanksgiving night at Texas, another prime-time game like two weeks ago at home when Boykin had his spinning 19-yard touchdown run in an eye-catching 41-20 win over Big 12 co-leader Kansas State. In that game, one by which coach Gary Patterson said the quarterback would be judged, Boykin threw for 219 yards with a touchdown and ran for 123 yards and three more scores.
“He provides a great deal of spark and leadership to his football team,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “Obviously his quickness and vision on the field, and ability to make big plays on his own … It’s just his innate ability to get to the right place at the right time. He can make people miss. He just has a great sense of where he is and how to get where he needs to go.”
That came a week after Boykin apologized to teammates in the locker room for what he felt was his subpar performance in a 31-30 win at West Virginia, though he had big plays on the final drive and encouraged the kicker before a game-ending field goal. A week before that, Boykin had thrown a school-record seven TDs in an 82-point outburst against Texas Tech.
Boykin and the Frogs have clearly benefited from Patterson’s philosophy change to keep up with other high-scoring Big 12 teams. The defensive-minded coach hired co-offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie after last season.
“I don’t think it can get any better than it is right now,” Boykin said when asked if he and the offense were a perfect match.
Patterson has turned many prep quarterbacks into defenders, and often kids with Boykin that he would make a great hybrid safety or linebacker.
What he has become is one of the nation’s top quarterbacks.
The Big 12 leader as a junior with 357 total yards a game, Boykin has thrown for 3,021 yards with 24 touchdowns and only five interceptions while also running for 548 yards and seven more scores. TCU is the nation’s most improved offense from last season by a wide margin, going from 345 to 542 total yards per game and averaging three more touchdowns, from 25 to 46 points.
Boykin accounted for 7,775 total yards and 92 touchdowns his final two seasons at West Mesquite High School in suburban Dallas, but was mostly overlooked as a quarterback in the same recruiting class with dual threats like Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Notre Dame’s Everett Golson and current NFL players Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater. With offers from UTEP and TCU, Boykin stayed close to home knowing he would get a chance at quarterback with the Frogs.
“It’s crazy to be one of those guys that’s just always under the radar,” Boykin said. “I always try to overachieve in everything I do.”