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Gary Mckellar, Deseret Morning News
Brigham Young University quarterback Ty Detmer, the only BYU QB to win the Heisman Trophy.
These things are a product of having fun and being in the right place at the right time with the right group of people —Ty Detmer

Editor's note: This is the first of three columns examining the college career of Ty Detmer.

The latest BYU quarterback to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame remains his old self, a guy who doesn't get caught up in his fame.

He's due for a new Ford pickup. He says his star status in Texas is nothing like it is back in Utah, where he's recognized almost every place he goes. He's got perspective. Still, he is touched and grateful.

By Wednesday morning, Detmer had done more than 15 interviews with newsprint, magazine, TV and radio reporters throughout the country on his newest honor.

His father, Sonny, learned his oldest son Ty would be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame when a Texas sportswriter called him on the phone to get his reaction this week.


The official who called Ty and told him about the honor did so a week ago Thursday and asked him to keep it quiet. Ty was swamped at the time and in the middle of making a trip to Arizona where the father of his wife, Kim, was ill. He never leaked the news to his dad.

Upon getting the word from a reporter, Sonny, the head football coach at Somerset High in San Antonio, called his celebrity son and expressed his pride and joy over the latest honor.

Detmer, a two-time consensus All-American and Heisman Trophy winner, set 59 NCAA records and says he is humbled and honored. He credits others for his success and being in the right place at the right time.

"These things are a product of having fun and being in the right place at the right time with the right group of people," he said.

I asked Detmer on Wednesday that of all the records he set during his college career, which one is he most proud of?

He didn't pick one. Instead, he said the ones that stand out the most are career marks because they represented an entire body of work over a career and showed he wasn't just lucky or a flash-in-the-pan player.

Those include setting the career mark for passing yards in 1991 with 15,031 yards and 121 touchdowns. He surpassed an eight-year-old record set by Jim McMahon for career pass efficiency with a 162.7 rating. McMahon's mark was 156.7. At the time, the NCAA's top four career pass efficiency QBs were from BYU, including No. 3 Steve Young (149.8) and No. 4 Robbie Bosco (149.4).

In the next decade, those marks were broken by QBs at Hawaii and Texas Tech. "They were guys who threw the ball on every down," says Detmer.

"This honor is special because, more than anything, it means you were more than just a one-year wonder," Detmer said. "You did it the right way over a long period of time, and people appreciate that."

In this regard, early indicators pointed to Detmer's success and consistency as a quarterback. He was named the Texas High School Player of the Year after his junior year by the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce in 1986.

A year later, Detmer finished high school at San Antonio's Southwest High School, where he was ranked as the No. 5 all-time high school passer (8,005 yards), right behind Jeff George (8,128 yards) from Indianapolis' Warren Central High School in Indiana. He ranked higher than Sol Graves (7,768) of Monroe, La.; Pat Haden (7,633) of Bishop Amat, La Puente, Calif.; Jim Plum (6,913) of Helix High in LaMesa, Calif.; Joe Ferguson (6,726) of Woodland High in Shreveport, La.; and Dan McGwire (6,559) of Claremont, Calif.

Within the next five years, Detmer had won two Davey O'Brien Awards as the nation's top college quarterback in 1990 and 1991.

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His career passing mark of 15,031 yards appeared quite remarkable at the time, which prompted Jim Van Valkenburg of NCAA Statistics to say, "You ask me if Ty Detmer's 15,000-yard career passing mark will be surpassed, and I've been around too long to say it never will. But if you ask if I bet it will be passed, I would say it will be a long, long, long time. What Detmer did in just one of his seasons was remarkable. What he did overall was fantastic."

Detmer's 15,000 mark stood for 13 years until Hawaii's Tommy Chang amassed 17,072 at the end of 2004. Houston's Case Keenum broke that mark in 2011 with an amazing 19,217 yards.

It's been 21 years since Detmer played college football. His mark now stands No. 3 on the all-time list. Only two QBs, from very unique offensive designs, have topped his career total.

Consistency? The Hall of Fame honor?

He'll take it.

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