The only time most guys his size get to play on a football field is with the band at halftime, but Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie is making a big gridiron noise this year. Though short in stature, the 173-pound senior is long on ability, achievement and confidence. “Seeing a receiver down-field is a little tougher for me than it is for most other quarterbacks,” he admits, “but it’s never been a problem. I move half a foot to one side or half a foot to the other, and I can see between the defenders. Every time I get a ball knocked down, the papers mention my height. If I were a 6’4″ quarterback, they wouldn’t say things about my height when my passes were batted down.”
That doesn’t happen too often. Flutie, 21, has led the Boston College Eagles to a 3-0 start and a Top 10 ranking, and by season’s end he may become the first major college quarterback to surpass 10,000 yards passing in a career. Flutie finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting for outstanding college player last year. With injuries to running backs Napoleon McCallum of Navy and Bo Jackson of Auburn, he is the favorite to win it this year. “Winning the Heisman would be unbelievable,” says Doug, who threw six touchdown passes against North Carolina last month. “It would mean a lot to me, but I’m not going to worry about it week in and week out. I don’t even consider the Heisman a goal. If I don’t win it, fine. My No. 1 goal this season is going to a major bowl and winning.” Flutie’s girlfriend of five years, secretary Laurie Fortier, 21, is less nonchalant. “Winning the Heisman would be the most important thing to him,” she says. “It would mean he’s fulfilled every dream he’s had in football.”
Raised in Natick, Mass., the son of a computer engineer and the second of four children in a sports-minded family (brother Darren, 19, is a flanker for Boston College), Doug was a standout athlete in high school. He lettered in three sports but was not considered a hot college prospect in football. When Boston College offered him a scholarship, he grabbed it but, not surprisingly, rode the bench at the beginning of his freshman year. Then, later that season, Flutie was put in against powerful Penn State with B.C. losing 38-0 late in the fourth quarter. “He went into that game, and it was like someone threw a switch,” says Boston College head coach Jack Bicknell. “I could see that this kid had something special.” Doug passed for one touchdown and 135 yards and has been starting ever since.
Flutie has learned to live with his newfound celebrity, but he’s not altogether comfortable with it. Doug and Laurie plan to marry next year. Until then the communications major will continue to live in an apartment on campus and spend weekends with his family in Natick. “My way of living is being home with a pizza and cola and watching football on TV,” he says. “It’s not an ego trip for me, being an ail-American and a Heisman candidate. I play because I love the game. I don’t want to be a big shot.”
That may be unavoidable, especially if Flutie wants to turn pro. “We think Doug can play in the NFL,” New England Patriot scout Dick Steinberg has said, “but the team he goes to will have to build its offense around him. The thing about Doug is that he’s a small guy with a big guy’s arm.” So, would New England take him? “In the third round, if he’s still available,” according to Steinberg. “We’d take him in a minute and be happy about it.” Flutie’s long-range plans include broadcasting, but for now he is counting on playing in the pros. “I understand that they have their prototype quarterbacks,” says Flutie, “but you can’t put a price on winning and losing. I’m a winner. I deserve a shot.”