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Thursday, April 19, 2012
Updating the Big 12's QB competitions

By David Ubben

The spring is nearing its end with just a little over a week remaining for some.

Oklahoma State and West Virginia will wrap up their spring practices this weekend. Until then, it's time to break down where we stand in the quarterback competitions around the league.

Baylor: Bears coach Art Briles said it was Nick Florence's job to lose entering the spring, and Florence did nothing to let Briles down. Instead, he seized the job ahead of talented backup Bryce Petty, who has a bright future ahead of himself. Florence gave up his redshirt last season by playing the second half against Texas Tech, but he'll try to make his senior season count. For now, this is his team.

Iowa State: Nothing's been settled after Iowa State's spring game last Saturday. Steele Jantz got back into the race when Jared Barnett struggled in the bowl game, and the competition was too close to call at the end of spring. ISU coach Paul Rhoads even said redshirt freshman Sam Richardson isn't out of the race. Former QB Jerome Tiller is, though. He was in the four-man competition last spring, which Jantz eventually won, but missed the season because of academic issues. He's a receiver now, and doing well at the position.

Kansas: Charlie Weis brought in his guy, Dayne Crist, from Notre Dame, and last year's starter, Jordan Webb, transferred. Crist has entrenched himself as the starter midway through spring practice, which ends with the spring game on April 28. BYU transfer Jake Heaps is taking reps with the second team now, but he'll be phased out in the fall while he sits out his NCAA-mandated redshirt season after transferring.

Kansas State: Collin Klein is still developing as a passer, but he is K-State's offense. Moving on ...

Oklahoma: Landry Jones returned for his senior season, but with a healthy set of running backs, the Belldozer, a power formation named after big-bodied backup Blake Bell, may be phased out this season. Bell, though, showcased his arm in the spring game and outperformed the older Drew Allen. The backup QB race should be interesting to watch this fall.

Oklahoma State: Coach Mike Gundy really wanted to name a starter by the end of spring, but it doesn't look likely to happen. No quarterback has established any distance, but they'll have a huge chance in Saturday's spring game. For now, true freshman Wes Lunt is still in the race, though dual-threat man J.W. Walsh may be the favorite ahead of junior Clint Chelf, who has some game experience the past two seasons. This is the league's best race, but also its most difficult to predict. Just about anything could happen.

Texas: Coach Mack Brown isn't making anything official, but sophomore David Ash was getting nearly all the first-team reps in the spring, ahead of Case McCoy. There's no official title yet, but there would be major shock if anyone but Ash starts the season opener. Now, if Ash struggles...

TCU: Casey Pachall had a great first year, and brings back his top three targets in Josh Boyce, Skye Dawson and Brandon Carter. The sky is the limit for Pachall.

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders' staff liked what Seth Doege did as a first-year starter, but the defense and injuries to his offense put too much strain on him in 2011. He'll look a lot better if his receivers and running backs can stay healthy.

West Virginia: Geno Smith may be the league's best quarterback, and coach Dana Holgorsen can't quit calling him "special." That's not to say he should. It could be a special season for him and the Mountaineers as they join the Big 12.