In person, Brigham Young senior quarterback Brandon Doman doesn't look much like the hulking figure with the furrowed brow on the Gladiatoresque DOMANATOR poster that BYU has been circulating in a belated Heisman campaign. At 24, the 6'1", 205-pound Doman is polite and aw-shucks earnest, still very much the Eagle Scout he became in high school. "Off the field Brandon could be the poster child for the stereotypical BYU guy—the dull, stiff Mormon," says center Jason Scukanec, himself a Mormon from Vancouver, Wash. "He's got the braided belt and loafers, the old man's haircut and old man's body. He looks like my dad."
On the field, though, Doman is looking more and more like the heroic figure the poster suggests. Since becoming the Cougars' starter by default with two games left last season, he has thrown for 2,583 yards and 21 touchdowns and run for 399 yards and eight scores. More important, he hasn't lost a game. By throwing for 338 yards and four touchdowns and running for another score in leading the Cougars to a 63-33 victory over Air Force on Saturday, he ran BYU's record to 7-0 and his record as a starter to 9-0, the best beginning for a Cougars' quarterback since Robbie Bosco went 13-0 in 1984. This season he's ranked fourth in the nation in total offense (317.7 yards per game) and is largely responsible for BYU's nation-high 48.9 points a game.
Doman's success has been a long time coming. The 1994 Utah Gatorade Player of the Year as an option quarterback at Salt Lake City's Skyline High, Doman was wooed by Brigham Young, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Texas A&M, among others. He ruled out the Irish after watching Notre Dame lose to the Cougars during an unofficial recruiting visit to South Bend, and ultimately decided to follow his three older brothers into LaVell Edwards's program in Provo. After serving a two-year church mission in Argentina, he began his freshman season fourth on BYU's depth chart. Even though he saw little action that year, he resisted the coaching staff's attempt to move him to safety the next spring.
Following a sophomore year in which he played mostly receiver, catching nine passes for 83 yards, Doman tried to switch to defense but was told he was needed at quarterback. At the start of last season he found himself third string, this time behind two new quarterbacks. "I was so frustrated," says Doman. "I began a redshirt year, but when [first-stringer Bret] Engemann separated his shoulder in the sixth game, I had the coaches pull it. I couldn't leave them with one quarterback."
Doman finally got his chance when the other quarterback, Charlie Peterson, was slowed by a nagging shoulder injury while playing against Colorado State. After passing for 349 yards and rushing for 51 in his first start, against New Mexico, Doman gave the retiring Edwards a memorable farewell at Utah. Facing fourth-and-13 on his own 17 with 1:04 remaining and the Utes leading 27-26, Doman connected on 34-and 36-yard passes. Two plays later he rushed four yards for the winning touchdown. This year he has performed similar last-ditch heroics, in a 35-31 win at UNLV and a 24-20 victory over New Mexico.
Adding to Doman's heroic aura is the fact that he has played much of the season with a separated right (throwing arm) shoulder. "When I injured it in Game 2, it was a Grade I; later it became a Grade III," says Doman. "It hurt like crazy, but I wasn't going to let that take away my final season. I'm not going to let anything take it away. I've waited much too long for this."