BYU gunslinger Ty Detmer, who won the Heisman Trophy two weeks ago, capped a season of honors Monday when he was named college football's Player of the Year by United Press International.
"It's a great honor," said Detmer, the first Heisman winner in a long line of gifted passers at BYU. "I've had a great time this year. My teammates have been great and I've had a lot of fun."Opposing defenses likely have a different view of the junior from San Antonio. Detmer made a practice of shredding coverages all season, completing 361 of 562 passes for an NCAA-record 5,188 yards with 28 interceptions and 41 touchdowns.
He finished second in the nation in passing behind Virginia's Shawn Moore and his total offense of 418.5 yards per game was second behind Houston's David Klingler.
BYU quarterbacks long have dominated the passing and total-offense sections of the NCAA record book, and Detmer's name is replacing those of such former Cougar luminaries as Jim McMahon, Marc Wilson and Steve Young. He owns 42 NCAA records - 21 in passing and 21 in total offense - and is tied for five more.
"He is the toughest competitor and a marvelous executor of our offense," said Edwards, who ranks Detmer ahead of all of the quarterbacks he has coached. "I can't list all the good things Ty has brought to BYU football."
It wasn't always that way between Detmer and Edwards. The quarterback came to BYU with impressive credentials, including being named Texas Player of the Year in 1986 after passing for 8,005 yards in his four years at San Antonio Southwest High. But when Detmer first walked into Edwards' office, the coach was surprised to see what was standing before him.
"I was expecting John Elway, and in walked Pee-Wee Herman," Edwards is fond of saying.
Detmer does not fit the quarterback mold that college recruiters and NFL scouts drool over. At only six feet tall and 175 pounds after a good meal, he looks more like an equipment manager than the Heisman Trophy winner.
What Edwards didn't know was how accurate Detmer's right arm could be. His passes aren't crisp and the ball often flutters, but they usually wind up in the arms of BYU receivers.
"We look real hard at the completion percentage," Detmer said. "A goal of ours is to keep that high - above 60 percent. We've done it in every game but two (actually three). It's important to keep the ball moving.
"We work on execution. If we don't execute, it's our own fault."
One of the reasons Detmer executes so well is that he knew much of the BYU offense before he set foot on campus. His father, Sonny, used a similar system while coaching at San Antonio Southwest, even down to giving formations the same names.
"I'm sure I had a lot better background coming into college than most quarterbacks do," Detmer said. "Just sitting around coaching meetings, I picked up stuff though I didn't know I was doing it.
"My dad never turned me away from football. You hear all those stories about kids getting burned out by their parents, but my dad let me have fun."
Detmer is staunch about going back to BYU for his senior year. With exactly 11,000 career passing yards, he could surpass the NCAA record of 11,425 by San Diego State's Todd Santos in the opening game of the 1991 season. The NCAA career total-offense mark of 11,317 by Boston College's Doug Flutie also should fall in that game.