Do you remember around this time last year when everyone was talking about the quarterback talent in the Big 12? There was Landry Jones at Oklahoma, Collin Klein at Kansas State, Nick Florence at Baylor, Seth Doege at Oklahoma State, Casey Pachall
at TCU, and, of course, Geno Smith at West Virginia.
Well, for 10 extra credit points, name the top three returning quarterbacks in the Big 12 for this year.
Not an easy task, is it?
They are Texas’ David Ash
, TCU’s Trevone Boykin
and Oklahoma State’s J.W. Walsh
Of the three, Ash probably has the biggest upside, but there are some in Texas who consider him to be only the third-best starting quarterback in the Lone Star State behind Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Boykin.
Ash passed for 2,699 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2012, including 241 yards and two touchdowns in the Longhorns’ 31-27, come-from-behind win over Oregon State in last year’s Alamo Bowl. He is clearly THE guy in Austin this year after spending the last two seasons fighting off Case McCoy, who is still in the program and will the No. 2 guy this fall. Ash could be primed for a breakout campaign in 2013, but will that be big enough for Texas fans eager to get back to the big game? Texas is clearly one of the most talented teams in the Big 12, and it could be in the national title discussion if Ash has the season everyone in Austin is hoping for.
Up north in Forth Worth, Boykin will probably get the starting nod at TCU, although the Horned Frogs did list Boykin and Pachall as co-No. 1s on their post-spring depth chart. Boykin took over the TCU offense midway through 2012 when Pachall was suspended and completed 167-of-292 passes for 2,054 yards and 15 touchdowns. The freshman led the Horned Frogs to four comeback triumphs, including a 39-38 double overtime win at West Virginia.
Pachall threw for 948 yards and 10 touchdowns before his suspension following a sophomore campaign in 2011 when he passed for nearly 3,000 yards and 25 scores. If Pachall can make good on his prior transgressions, veteran TCU coach Gary Patterson could have the best pair of QBs in the country this fall, and picking just one will not be an easy decision to make.
Baylor coach Art Briles will look to junior Bryce Petty
to take over where Robert Griffin III and Nick Florence have left off in one of the most dynamic offensive attacks in the country. RG3 won the Heisman Trophy two years ago, and last year Florence finished second in the nation in total offense, which is probably why no one outside of Texas is that familiar with Petty. It might also be because Petty attempted only 10 passes last season, but Briles is known for developing quarterbacks and Petty is the next guy in line.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy had his group of three 1,000-yard passers whittled to two this spring when Wes Lunt decided to transfer - most likely to Illinois, according to a Monday report filed by ESPN’s Joe Schad. That leaves J.W. Walsh
and senior Clint Chelf
to battle it out this fall. Walsh finished 2012 ranked eighth in the Big 12 in passing with an average of 156.4 yards per game, completing 67 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns, while Chelf burned West Virginia’s secondary for 292 yards and four touchdowns in a 55-34 Cowboy victory. The unpredictable Gundy could go with Chelf, or he may go with Walsh – or both - you just never know for sure with him.
As for the rest of the Big 12, there are questions, questions and even more questions that will have to be answered.
At Iowa State, it looks like sophomore Sam Richardson
could be the No. 1 guy for Coach Paul Rhoads in 2013. Richardson passed for 541 yards and eight touchdowns in only three games while splitting time in 2012 with Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett – by no means an extensive body of work.
At Kansas, Charlie Weis will likely go with BYU transfer Jake Heaps
as his starter under center. Heaps passed for 1,452 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore for the Cougars in 2011 before sitting out last season at KU.
At Oklahoma, junior Blake Bell
will get the first crack at replacing record-setting quarterback Landry Jones. Bell, at 6-feet-6, 263 pounds, has been used primarily as a short yardage QB and as a result has attempted just 20 career passes, but he was once a five-star recruit who played in the Under Armour All-American game.
"He’s always been able to throw the football well, we’ve just chosen his role to this point has been short yardage and goal line, getting the extra blocker when you’re running your quarterback," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops told ESPN’s David Ubben earlier this spring. "Plus, he’s a big strong guy to fall forward and get a yard when there isn’t one there. He throws a great deep ball."
However, Bell could get some competition this fall from redshirt freshman Trevor Knight
, who reportedly looked good running the Sooner scout team.
Speaking of competition, it’s now a three-horse race to see who will replace record-setting quarterback Geno Smith at West Virginia. In the spring, junior Paul Millard
and redshirt freshman Ford Childress
shared the reps equally, but now Florida State transfer Clint Trickett
has been added to the equation, which should make things even more interesting when fall camp opens in August.
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said after the Mountaineers’ spring game that he wasn’t close to naming a starter, and he clearly meant it.
The view is also mostly cloudy at Kansas State, where senior Daniel Sams
will be battling top junior college transfer Jake Waters
for the starting job. Sams attempted only eight passes last year as Klein’s backup, while Waters was the national junior college player of the year after leading Iowa Wesleyan to a national championship. Don’t rule out Waters, considering the success Bill Snyder has enjoyed through the years with JC transfers.
At Texas Tech, new Red Raider coach Kliff Kingsbury has a reputation for churning out record-setting quarterbacks and sophomore Michael Brewer
hopes to be his next prodigy. Kingsbury won’t have much to work off of, though, because Brewer attempted only 48 passes last year as Seth Doege’s backup.
“He’s done a good job in our system,” said Kingsbury earlier this spring. “He’s a kid that, once he gets out in 11-on-11, he seems to settle down almost, sees the field and is real good in a team setting.”