The Big 12 is known for it’s high scoring shootouts, and it has made a name for itself when it comes to quarterbacks. The 2019 AFC MVP was Patrick Mahomes, from Texas Tech. Pair that feat with the last two Heisman Trophy winners and first overall picks coming from the Oklahoma University quarterback room, and you have got a nice little bit of NFL success for Big 12 gunslingers.
The past is the past however, and this year has a wide open battle for the title of conferences best QB. If your school didn’t make the list, well, it’s probably not by accident.
Oklahoma – Jalen Hurts
Obviously, when your last two quarterbacks were Heisman Trophy winners and you bring in a talent like Jalen Hurts, well people start talking about three-peat.
Filling shoes is something Hurts is not new to. Last season, he had to come into the SEC Championship game facing a heavy deficit. This was after the elite QB lost his job to another quarterback, but Hurts came in and led the Crimson Tide to an historical comeback.
If anything unforeseen happens, there is also the number one pro style quarterback of the 2019 class enrolling in Norman. Spencer Rattler is just a freshman but could step in if needed.
Hurts is the man though, and has been there for it all. He can definitely take Oklahoma to the promised land. He’ll need some big victories to get there though, and none may be bigger than a huge Red River Showdown this year.
Texas – Sam Ehlinger
Hurts’ counterpart under center in the Red River Showdown is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country.
Ehlinger also has shown a desire about him. He will win at all costs and he showed off that will to win in instant classics last season against Oklahoma and West Virginia.
He threw for 3,292 yards while completing over 64 percent of his passes, and ran for another 482 yards on the ground for a total of 41 touchdowns last season. And now he’s motivated by the heartbreaking loss against the Mountaineers at home, and the Sooners in the conference championship game. Expect big things from the All-Big 12’s pre-season quarterback in 2019.
West Virginia – Three Contenders
The Mountaineers have one of the best all-around quarterback rooms in the conference. That’s crazy to say after losing Will Grier, but while West Virginia has a mountain of questions to answer in 2019, they should be pretty good under center.
The starter is still to be determined, and Neal Brown has a tough first major decision to make as the new head coach. Miami transfer Jack Allison started West Virginia’s bowl game, and it wasn’t that pretty, but the consensus on him is he still can throw the ball very well. Trey Lowe is a darkhorse to possibly win the job. It was projected to be a two-man battle, until Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall shook the whole situation up. Now the three-headed race will continue into August practices.
Oh, and Jarret Doege from Bowling Green also joined the quarterback room, but his 2019 eligibility is still in question.
Iowa State – Brock Purdy
Purdy was just a freshman last year and took over about halfway through the season. In his limited amount of games, he threw the football as well as anyone in the country by completing over 66 percent of his passes, and was named to ESPN’s all-freshman team.
He is expected to be even better in 2019 and can very well be the conference’s best.
Texas Tech – Alan Bowman
Another freshman phenom is Alan Bowman from Texas Tech. However, his freshman year was cut short as he dealt with a collapsed lung. He led Texas Tech back from a 0-1 start all the way into the top 25 before the injury. Who knows what could have been had he stayed healthy. Kingsbury could very well still be in Lubbock.
You cannot change the past though, and while Bowman was electric in his freshmen campaign, he will have to adapt to a new offense this year. That could hold him back a bit.
Bowman does however have a ridiculously skilled offense, and if all the pieces gel together he could improve on his 69 percent completion percentage while leading this dark horse Red Raiders squad to a winning season.
Baylor – Charlie Brewer
While all these young guys are succeeding, in Waco, Charlie Brewer is another quarterback who had success as a freshman, but now as a junior, has the experience of a veteran.
Brewer had his ups and downs last season, struggling at times while looking like a NFL-caliber quarterback at others. We might argue that when Brewer is on, he may be the best quarterback in the conference.
Consistency is what Matt Rhule will want out of his year three QB, but he will easily be one of the conferences better gunslingers this season.
Oklahoma State – Sanders, Brown, or Both
Oklahoma state will also look for consistency at the quarterback position. Entering August practices the starting spot is up for grabs. Dru Brown and Spencer Sanders both could very well be the week one starter.
Dru Brown, the Hawaii transfer, and the veteran in this situation, has bounced around. The redshirt senior started his college career at the College of San Mateo, a JUCO in California. He than started 22 games his next two years at Hawaii and was a team captain his junior season. And last season he was a member of the Cowboys roster as a redshirt. He has the experience.
But Spencer Saunders has the athletic edge. The redshirt freshman was the Texas 2017-2018 Gatorade state player of the year. He is a dangerous dual threat quarterback who put up 70 combined touchdowns and a stretch of 30 consecutive wins his senior year at Ryan high school.
This battle comes down to experience vs talent. It’s a redshirt senior vs a redshirt freshman, and for Oklahoma State it seems like a good problem to have.
TCU – Someone, Anyone…
A six-man quarterback race has been the major story line for the Horned Frogs heading into fall camp. For good reason; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a quarterback battle this large in numbers before.
Alex Delton (yes, that Alex Delton) seems to have the early lead as he got time in the offense this spring. He would be my guess as to who would get the call to start.
If not Delton, TCU still has Mike Collins, Max Duggan, Justin Rogers, Matthew Downing, and Matthew Baldwin who all should not be ruled out from seeing the field this season.
Max Duggan comes into the program with a lot of hype. He was the Iowa State Gatorade player of the year last year and a four star recruit. If Delton is to be passed on the depth chart, Duggan is a heavy favorite to do it.
Justin Rodgers threw only one pass last year, but has potential. The redshirt freshman was also a four star recruit and was ranked the number two dual threat quarterback in his class, but is coming off a weird injury and probably won’t see the field until his nerve wakes up. That could be tomorrow or in six weeks. No one really knows.
As for the others… Michael Collins started four games for the Frogs last year and tallied 10 touchdowns versus two interceptions. Matthew Downing was at Georgia last season where he appeared in four games. He’ll be a redshirt freshman this year. Ohio State transfer Matthew Baldwin has a couple of hurdles to overcome to see the field. The first, his eligibility is still in question. The second, he is recovering from an off-season surgery, but he should be ready for the practice field by somewhere around the end of fall camp.
Those are the candidates and there really isn’t much separation between any of them. Gary Patterson definitely has his hands full with this choice, and it’s a choice he said during Media Days that he wants to narrow down to three fairly quickly.
And the winner is…
When it comes to the quarterback room, TCU and West Virginia might be the deepest, while Oklahoma and Oklahoma State might have the best one-two punch. However, this title doesn’t go to the team with the most depth, it goes to the team with the best quarterback.
Of the many key traits to a elite college QB is being a winner, and putting everything on the line. Someone who will take a hit to make a play and of course, throwing the football pretty well. When thinking about who fits those attributes, there is one key answer:
Sam Ehlinger, Texas
He has all the intangibles to be the conference’s best. It’s a close race, especially with Hurts going to Oklahoma and guys like Purdy, Bowman and Brewer returning, but right now, Ehlinger has the edge. That winner’s edge.