FORT WORTH, Texas – TCU head coach Gary Patterson said he can tell a difference in quarterback Casey Pachall because the senior has color in his face and Patterson can have conversations with him.
Quarterback Trevone Boykin said Pachall is more available now as a teammate, hanging out and eating lunch with his competition for the No. 1 job.
Neither of those things were the case last season when Pachall was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and then left the program in October to enter an alcohol treatment program.
But now Pachall is back with the Horned Frogs trying to win his quarterback job. He’s doing so as a changed person.
“I’ve matured a lot,” said Pachall, who spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since before he left the program last year. “Everything that’s happened has really humbled me and helped me out as far as my mentality so everything’s that happened happened for a reason and I understand that now. I’m actually very grateful for it now.”
Pachall’s focus now is trying to move forward with his life and help the Frogs win football games. While he’s started 17 games for the Frogs, he’s not guaranteed the No. 1 spot. Boykin took over for Pachall when he entered treatment and led the Frogs to road wins at Baylor, West Virginia and Texas.
Patterson said the starting job is still up for grabs, and Pachall is fine with that.
“The only thing I can control is how I perform on the field, in practice, all through 2-a-days, and how I conduct myself off the field,” Pachall said. “I can’t stress out about it, or I can’t worry about trying to get my spot back or anything like that. All I can do is know that at the end of each day that I put forth 100 percent and do everything I could for myself and for my teammates, and the rest will fall in place.”
Not being around teammates last season and watching them struggle at times without him was tough on Pachall. But he used getting back with the team as some of his motivation during his recovery process.
He said he never contemplated transferring or entering the NFL Draft. He said he didn’t think another school would want him and he also knew that his problems, which also included an admitted failure of a drug test, would raise red flags with NFL teams.
Pachall returned to TCU this spring and was happy with the reception his got him from teammates.
“Initially I didn’t say too much but at the same time I could tell by the look in their eyes they didn’t have too much judgment,” he said. “I knew at the same time I had let them down but also coming back, it wasn’t too much what I needed to say, it was what I needed to do. From that point on, it was just a mentality I had to have on and off the field to prove to them they could trust me and I could be their leader.”
Pachall hopes to be a leader again. He said he’ll be open to helping any of his teammates deal with on-field and off-field problems. He’s been through enough in his time at TCU where he feels like he can handle things better.
Patterson does too.
“Kids get going down the wrong track sometimes,” Patterson said. “One of the biggest things was being able to handle pressure. Why do people fall into traps to all of the things that so many people in this world do? Casey Pachall doesn’t lead the charge of people not being able to handle pressure. How does he handle that? Time will tell.”
Pachall doesn’t think he has any pressure on him now to prove anything to anyone. His goals are much simpler football wise. He wants to help his team win games. The rest will take care of itself. He knows that now.
“I feel like for me and my teammates it’s all about each game of the season and winning each one of those,” he said. “So it’s nothing to prove to anybody else. They may come along with, they seem like I’m proving something, but I really just want to line up on the field and play with my teammates and friends.”