When Max Duggan’s head hits the pillow, think of what must be racing through his mind.
With apologies to Al Coupee (mid-1930s), Vince Leber (late 1960s), Brian Ratigan (late 1980s) and the many others I’m missing, no Council Bluffs football player has attracted the recruiting attention that Mr. Duggan has commanded in these past 18 months.
Recruiting website 247Sports considers Duggan to be the fourth-best Class of 2019 dual-threat quarterback in the United States. Simply put, that doesn’t happen in our small town very often.
Plenty of the attention is a result of the age in which we live, where every movement is chronicled on social media, every armchair quarterback has a device to send his opinion to the masses and countless recruiting services are competing for your attention.
Duggan is expected to announce his college choice sometime this week. Among his offers, the Lewis Central junior has 22 from Power Five schools plus Notre Dame.
There are eight from the Big Ten (Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northwestern and Indiana) and five from the SEC (Georgia, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt). There are three each from the Big 12 (TCU, Iowa State and Kansas State) and ACC (North Carolina State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech), and two from the Pac-12 (Arizona State, Oregon), along with Notre Dame.
247Sports lists two of Duggan’s prospective schools as “warmer”: Minnesota and TCU. It lists two others as “warm”: Ohio State and Notre Dame. The remaining schools are tagged as “cool.’’
Here’s the problem with those temperatures: If Duggan reconsiders and realizes he likes a coach or a system or a group of players more than he previously thought, a “cool’’ could instantly become a “warm.’’
Can you imagine the pictures his potential coaches have been painting for him? There you are, running out of the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium or Beaver Stadium or The Horseshoe or any of those other legendary venues as “The Guy,’’ with the hopes of your fan base riding on your right arm. It’s undoubtedly a lot to digest.
And it’s far more than just the coach or the stadium that Duggan has had to ponder for the last 18 months. It’s how his skills translate to the offenses at those schools. It’s trying to project what talent will be around him at those schools, and whether that talent will mesh with his personality. It’s trying to project the quarterback competition at those schools.
It’s a life-changing decision. Selecting a college is daunting enough for any student (ask my daughter, who’s in the early stages of the process). Now throw in a bunch of coaches you’ve enjoyed getting to know and several thousand fans who are urging you to go to their school.
In talking to Duggan’s father, Jim, this week, he believes his son has done a good job of filtering out the nonsense and focusing on what’s most important to him.
Selfishly, I’d love to see him stay close to home, in part so we’re able to chronicle his career more easily. However, it’s important to realize this is Duggan’s decision. He’s going to choose the school he believes can best help him reach his potential.
We should all accept that, because he’s handled the entire process with an unusual amount of maturity.
And when he steps onto the campus of his choice, we should all root for Max Duggan to succeed, because he is one of ours.