FORT WORTH –– TCU quarterback Casey Pachall spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since being suspended from the team amid a tumultuous year bungled by accusations of driving while intoxicated and drug use.
"I know I'm not perfect, but I've learned from those mistakes and I'm still learning," he said.
Pachall, 22, withdrew himself from Texas Christian University for the semester and entered an in-patient drug and alcohol treatment facility last October. He was suspended hours after being arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated, an arrest that came just eight months after he failed a drug test.
He re-enrolled at TCU in January.
“I’ve matured a lot,” Pachall said of his time away. “Everything that has happened has really humbled me out as far as my mentality. Everything that happened, happened for a reason. I’m actually very grateful for it now.”
Head coach Gary Patterson said addressing the media was Pachall’s decision.
“I’ve always told him, it would be better to get this off your chest, get it behind you so you can go forward to play football,” Patterson said.
Pachall replaced Andy Dalton –– the winningest quarterback in TCU history –– and set single season records with 2,921 yards passing on 228 completions. He threw for 25 touchdowns with just seven interceptions.
"When he came back, in the spring, he told me he wanted to be a football player and be a student. When he came back, he had color back in his face. He was the kid who graduated from high school," Patterson said.
Pachall said it was tough facing his teammates when he returned for spring practice.
"Initially, I didn't say too much but at the same time, I could tell by the look in their eyes, that they didn't have too much judgment. I knew at the same time that I had let them down,” he said. “Coming back, it wasn't too much of what I needed to say, it's what I needed to do."
While Pachall has returned, that doesn't mean he has his starting job back. Coach Patterson says it's an open competition between Pachall and Trevone Boykin, who took over after Pachall was suspended last year.
"Trevone had a very good spring, and so how do we get both of them in?" Patterson asked. "It's not one of those where we split 50-50. Somebody's going to end up being the starting quarterback."
"Me and Casey, we text, we talk, we've hung out, we ate together and everything," said Boykin, who threw 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his nine starts in 2012. "He's a totally different person than what he was the last time that y'all seen him. So I feel like he's changed a lot; he's matured; he doesn't do the same things that he (did)."
"After about a week or two, I did have that moment of clarity and realized that I was screwing everything up, and it was completely my fault that I'm in this situation I'm in," Pachall added.
Patterson stood by his quarterback — literally — throughout Pachall's news conference. He and everyone else at TCU are hoping he won't have to do it again.