AMES, Iowa -- It’s probably the former walk-on in him talking, Josh Doctson said, but the TCU receiver can’t take seriously any of the speculation about his spot in the race for major awards.
“I really just laugh,” Doctson said, “because I don’t feel like I’m a part of that category.”
Doctson ought to get used to it.
A second-team All-Big 12 selection a year ago, he’s arguably the nation’s best player at his position in 2015. The senior from Mansfield, Texas, caught 10 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns Saturday in the the Horned Frogs’ 45-21 win over Iowa State.
Doctson began his career at Wyoming and transferred back near his home to TCU as a walk-on in 2012. He set single-season TCU records last year for receiving touchdowns and yards -- and has surpassed both marks already this year.
With another seven catches, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Doctson will own that single-season mark, too.
His 60 receptions and 1,067 yards lead the nation, and Doctson’s 12 touchdowns trail only Corey Coleman of Baylor. Doctson has caught a touchdown in five straight games and nine of the last 10 for the fourth-ranked Horned Frogs, and he’s posted five straight 100-yard receiving performances.
“We’re like two peas in a pod, man,” TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin said. “It’s crazy. I don’t know, we’re on the same page most of the time.”
Boykin said he works primarily to get the ball to Doctson in open space.
“It’s really not that hard,” the QB said.
He’s not kidding.
Doctson’s 972 yards before first contact lead the nation, more than 200 yards ahead of Coleman’s second-place 765.
Just four receivers this year have gained more than 500 yards before first contact. Last year, two players nationally exceeded 1,000 -- Tyler Lockett of Kansas State and West Virginia’s Kevin White, both in 13 games.
Boykin, a leading Heisman Trophy candidate who accounted for 510 yards and five scores against the Cyclones, said he expects to sit alongside Doctson in December at the Home Depot College Football Awards show.
“I’d rather have an undefeated season and go to the (College Football Playoff),” Doctson said. “The other receivers and quarterbacks, they can have the awards. I’ve never been a trophy guy.”
According to Doctson, he’s already received the biggest award he could imagine -- to simply play at TCU.
“I know that being in that conversation is pretty big,” he said. “I appreciate all that. But it’s definitely not my goal or where my mind’s at.”
Doctson left during the first quarter Saturday with a hip injury as Iowa State traded punches with Horned Frogs. The Cyclones led 21-14 after 15 minutes, assisted by a successful fake punt and sketchy defense from TCU.
“It’s a huge difference,” Boykin said, “when you don’t have the best receiver in college football on the field.”
The Horned Frogs scored 31 unanswered points as Doctson returned from the locker room after receiving a shot to control his pain.
“There’s a bunch of people from about the middle of the [first] quarter on who played hurt the whole time,” coach Gary Patterson said. “They’ve been resilient.”
Doctson said he never considered a rest, even when the Horned Frogs asserted control in the second half.
“In this league,” Patterson said, “I’ve learned you better not let off the gas until it’s getting real close.”
Six minutes into the fourth quarter, Boykin hit Doctson on third-and-9 for a 42-yard touchdown to all but seal the win.
Much of their chemistry developed from repetition, the receiver said.
“The game is simple to us, I guess you could say,” Doctson said. “We just know the routes. I kind of know what he’s going to give me before he gives it to me.”
Patterson sees it much the same way as his players.
“When you have a guy like Doctson,” the coach said, “it makes it a lot easier.”