FORT WORTH, Texas – TCU quarterback Andy Dalton has earned a catchy, cool nickname.
Dalton's next victory will put him alone as the winningest quarterback in Horned Frogs' history. "Slingin' Sammy" Baugh had solely held the mark for more than seven decades until Dalton tied him at 29 wins last season.
"We've got to come up with something unique," center Jake Kirkpatrick said.
Especially if the redheaded Dalton holds the record for a lengthy time like Baugh, the quarterback in the mid-1930s who was immediately followed by Heisman Trophy winner Davey O'Brien.
"I don't think anything fits as well as Slingin' Sammy," receiver Curtis Clay said. "Some guys on the team just call him Red. Some people call him Rooster. I just call him Andy."
That's just fine with Dalton, the unassuming college kid who last season helped TCU finally become a BCS buster. The senior fourth-year starter is also the winningest active NCAA FBS quarterback, with three more wins than fellow BCS buster Kellen Moore of Boise State.
"I've had a great opportunity to come and play early," Dalton said. "I just happen to be the quarterback that's been around when this is all happening. ... We've got a lot of athletes. My job is to get them the ball, let them make plays."
Dalton's first shot at victory No. 30 comes Saturday night when the sixth-ranked Frogs, with their highest preseason ranking ever, play No. 24 Oregon State in a nationally televised season opener at Cowboys Stadium, about 20 miles from the TCU campus.
Surrounded again by most of the same playmakers that helped TCU set school records with 498 points and 5,937 total yards last season, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Dalton could have a chance to add another 12 or 13 wins to his total if things go right.
TCU is coming off its first undefeated regular season since 1938, when O'Brien won his Heisman Trophy and the Frogs won their only AP national championship. But they lost 17-10 to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl, when Dalton threw three interceptions.
"I've watched it once," Dalton said of the BCS game. "I don't know if I've watched it twice."
That blemish on TCU's breakthrough season provided plenty of motivation for Dalton and his teammates during offseason workouts.
"I think he knew, I think we all knew, that we didn't play to the best of our ability," Clay said. "We didn't give the nation and everybody watching a right depiction of what TCU football is all about."
Dalton committed to TCU early in his senior season at Katy High School in the Houston area. He was later third-team on the Texas Class 5A All-State team — the highest classification — behind Greg McElroy, the starter for No. 1 Alabama, and Taylor Potts, who starts for Texas Tech.
While Dalton was not heavily recruited by many major schools after splitting time his junior season at Katy, he went to several camps and found a "perfect situation." He went to TCU knowing that he might have a chance to play early after a redshirt season.
"After you talked to him for a while, you kind of realized how smart he is," said tight end Evan Frosch, part of the same freshman class and now Dalton's roommate.
"He was skinny when we got here," Kirkpatrick said. "We were all smaller, but he was skinnier and we were kind of like, 'I guess he can play in a couple of years.' But he stepped right up."
Before getting married, Kirkpatrick also used to room with Dalton.
The former and current roommate describe Dalton as a picky eater who leaves to-go boxes in the fridge way too long and a compulsive texter who always has his phone — "If he doesn't answer a call, you know he's screening it," Kirkpatrick said.
And they say he is still the same guy he was before he was the star quarterback recognized all around Fort Worth.
"He's a normal person, just completely down to earth," Frosch said. "You wouldn't even know if you were just talking to him."
During TCU's fan day festivities last weekend, Dalton was the last player to finish signing autographs and pose for pictures. With no complaints.
Dalton is often seen at TCU volleyball games, trying with other students to grab free T-shirts being thrown into the stands. He and several teammates drove to Omaha, Neb., this summer when the Horned Frogs baseball team made it to the College World Series.
The TCU record book will be filled with Dalton's name when he leaves. His 7,457 yards passing are already the most in school history, and his is only a few games from breaking the marks for touchdowns, completions and attempts. He has only 24 interceptions in 1,001 pass attempts.
But Dalton wants to be remembered for more than that.
"The legacy I want to leave is he wasn't just a great football player, but he was a great person," Dalton said. "The kind of person that I am and what I believe in is more important than anything I do out there on the field."
And his teammates say Dalton is well on is way to doing just that.
"You can ask Coach (Gary) Patterson. He's never had a problem with Andy," Kirkpatrick said. "He just does everything right. He has some strong personal beliefs and he sticks to those. He doesn't let other people influence him. He really has an effect on other people."
On and off the field.