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Dick Harmon: College Hall of Fame beckons Ty Detmer

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 4 2012 7:00 a.m. MST

Former Cougar Ty Detmer with former coach Lavell Edwards in Provo Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. Detmer will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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When Sonny and Betty Detmer welcomed their first son into this world, they hoped he would be a good person, play football and love to hunt and fish.

They had no idea someday Ty Hubert Detmer would break most the passing records in the city of San Antonio and set the Texas state passing mark with 8,005 yards as a high school All-American at Southwest High. They didn't know Ty would be named the Texas High School Player of the Year as a junior. They didn’t expect that baby boy would someday win the Davey O’Brien, Sammy Baugh and Maxwell awards and be voted the winner of the coveted Heisman Trophy.

On Tuesday, their son will be inducted into the College Football Hall of fame during ceremonies in the Empire Room at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue in New York City. Sonny and Betty, now in their late 60s, will have witnessed it all.

In part, the honor comes because Ty Detmer became the first college quarterback to pass for more than 15,000 yards — a feat that stood unmatched for 13 years until Hawaii’s Timmy Chang amassed 17,072 in 2004. In part, it comes because Detmer broke nearly 50 NCAA passing records at BYU including 121 career touchdown passes.

He turned out to be that good guy — a beloved teammate. He has brought down trophy deer at 600 yards and pulled 20-pound Mackinaw out of lake on a lazy Saturday morning. He owns a 1200-acre hunting ranch south of Austin, Texas, and he is a man's man.

Ty Detmer has lived a Huck Finn kind of life and been a Barnum and Bailey act in the sports world. I first spoke to Detmer after his junior year of high school in 1986. As a human being, he has not changed one iota.

If Detmer wore a sandwich board around, it would read: “I can do this.” A fierce competitor, playful jokester and loyal teammate, Detmer became a master of the games he’s played.

“I never would have predicted this,” said Detmer of his induction.

At Southwest High back in the day, he hoped he could get a college scholarship and play in the NFL someday. “All my dreams have come my way and it’s really been special. I’d never have guessed all these awards would come. You don’t dream of those kind of things, you just hope to get a chance to play at each level. It’s all been icing on the cake for me.”

Detmer is currently coaching at St. Andrews Episcopal School in Austin, Texas. At age 45, he is seven years removed from an NFL career that took him to Green Bay, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Cleveland, Detroit and the Atlanta Falcons. He and his wife Kim Detmer have four daughters: Kaili, Aubri, Mayci and Ryli.

The induction humbles him.

“At this point in your life, it’s special and you have a chance to reflect back on the coaches and players you played with and the support of BYU. It’s been a lot of fun and I’m proud to be a part of. It’s probably going to be the last thing so I’m taking it all in and enjoying it.”

Is this his last lofty award?

“You get all the awards when you are playing, then you get the high school hall of fame, your college hall of fame and now the national hall of fame, then it’s kind of run its course,” Detmer said.

Still, everywhere he’s gone the past 22 years, folks have introduced him as a Heisman Trophy winner. “It changed my life,” he says.

Former teammate, receiver Andy Boyce, had his locker next to Detmer at BYU. “He was always asking me questions about the Book of Mormon and who Nephi or Alma was, so he could pass his religion class.” Detmer joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints his junior year. “He was also a very funny guy.”

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