COUNCIL BLUFFS — After visiting TCU about a month ago, Max Duggan felt he found a home.
The Council Bluffs Lewis Central junior, however, wasn’t about to rush his decision.
“I had to take some time and make sure it was consistent, waking up with that gut feeling,” he said.
That feeling is still there. And Sunday night, Duggan made it official, tweeting out his commitment to play for TCU. He plans to be an early enrollee in January 2019.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Titan, ranked as the nation’s No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in his class by 247Sports, had more than 20 Power Five offers. He said he picked the Horned Frogs over a “handful” of others, mentioning Minnesota, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State and North Carolina.
In 17 seasons under coach Gary Patterson, TCU has seven top-10 finishes. It is one of five programs to finish in the top 10 at least three times in the past four years.
Duggan said he hit it off immediately with Patterson and co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie, who also is the quarterbacks coach.
“Coach Cumbie, I love the way he develops and coaches his quarterbacks,” Duggan said. “The thing that I really said at the beginning of my recruitment was offensive philosophy. TCU checked that perfectly. The offense that they run, I think my skill set will fit into that.”
Duggan was a Notre Dame fan growing up, and many thought he would go there after receiving an offer from the Fighting Irish.
“I think when the process started, that’s probably where he would have gone,’’ said Steve Wiltfong, 247Sports’ national director of recruiting, “but the recruitment with Notre Dame didn’t go all that smooth and opened the door for some other programs.’’
Though TCU may not have been foremost on his radar at the outset, Duggan warmed to the program and the tight-knit campus. TCU has an enrollment of about 10,000, a contrast to schools like Penn State (about 98,000), Ohio State (66,000) and Minnesota (51,000).
“I’ve always asked, ‘If I was not playing football at that school, would I enjoy myself?’ ” Duggan said. “The academics at TCU and the school life, being a small, family-type community, it’s an awesome school.”
Said Wiltfong: “I think it was that combination — the winning, the coaching staff and the smaller student body — that really were factors.” And then little things like the weather I’m sure didn’t hurt.’’
TCU currently has a competitive quarterback situation. Shawn Robinson, a 6-2, 225-pound sophomore, is considered to have the inside track to the starting job. He appeared in six games as a true freshman, starting a win at Texas Tech.
Redshirt freshman Justin Rogers (6-4, 210) was the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback coming out of high school, the highest-rated recruit in the Patterson era. He missed virtually his entire senior season of high school to a knee injury. The third quarterback is Penn transfer Michael Collins (6-5, 210), a redshirt sophomore who also has impressed.
“Max hasn’t shied away from the quarterback competition in anybody’s room,” said Jim Duggan, Max’s father and coach at Lewis Central. “There were people that were questioning, ‘Well, he won’t go here, he won’t go there because there’s too much competition.’ Well, he just picked a school that’s got some serious competition in there, and that’s what it’s all about. Showing up and competing and becoming a better quarterback.”
Max Duggan said he enjoyed getting to know the coaches at Iowa, Iowa State and Nebraska.
“Iowa, that was my first offer and I’m super thankful for that,’’ he said. “I would say the offensive philosophy was kind of the biggest thing that might have been (different), just for them and me.
“Iowa State, they got a commit at quarterback before I was ready (to decide). Nebraska, I had a great relationship with Coach (Mike) Riley and that staff. Then when Coach (Scott) Frost came in, it was kind of just bad timing. I was getting closer to closing down my process.”
Duggan said he didn’t set out to sign with a program considered a national championship contender, “just because I know how things change. When you commit, in four years that school could be a lot different, recordwise.
“It wasn’t a huge factor, but yet it still was, the tradition of what they’re doing and how bad they want to be successful.” You could see that in the TCU program and in the culture that they have.”
Wiltfong said Duggan has the tools to shine in a Top 25 program.
“I think you see the athleticism on tape,” he said. “He’s a smart football player. Knows where to go with the football. Coach’s kid. Can make the throws. Can make things happen with his legs. I just think he has a really good feel for the game. At that position so much of it is in between the ears, and I think he checks the intangible boxes.”
Jim Duggan said his son has stayed level-headed throughout the 18 months since Iowa made the first offer. He also was proud of the way he ended the process.
“We didn’t force him to, but he called the head coaches and the position coaches of the schools that were probably closest on his list,’’ he said. “For a 17-year-old kid, that’s pretty tough.’’
Nebraska offered Duggan on June 5, 2017. He made visits on consecutive weekends — June 16 and 23 — for the Huskers’ Friday Night Light camps.