Big 12: Michael Vick

Big 12 QBs make their big debuts

September, 10, 2012
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There were an eye-popping five rookie quarterbacks starting in Week 1 across the NFL yesterday, setting a new league record.

Three were from the Big 12, joining former NC State and Wisconsin star Russell Wilson and Stanford's Andrew Luck, the No. 1 pick in April's draft.

Former Baylor standout and Heisman winner Robert Griffin III had the biggest debut of anyone, and arguably the best debut of any rookie quarterback in history. RG3 threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns on 19-of-26 passing, leading the Washington Redskins to an upset win against the New Orleans Saints in the Superdome.

RG3 became the first QB in NFL history to throw for at least 300 yards and two scores without an interception in his first NFL start.
"I've won a high school state championship and a bowl game in college, but to play in the NFL, the pinnacle of it all, and win your first game against a Hall of Famer in Drew Brees, it's at the top," Griffin said while cradling the game ball he had just been given. "After the game, (Brees) told me he was proud of me. That's big for him to say after he just lost the game."

Quite the entrance for the No. 2 pick in last year's draft, who also completed his first eight passes, including an 88-yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon. Griffin also ran for 42 yards on 10 carries.

The other Big 12 quarterbacks didn't have such fond debuts, combining to throw zero touchdown passes and seven interceptions.

Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill completed 20-of-36 passes for 219 yards and three interceptions in a 30-10 loss at Houston, but he didn't sound too discouraged after the loss.
"I felt like we hurt ourselves more than they really just stopped us," Tannehill said. "That's a good defense. So being able to move the ball on a good defense like that gives us some confidence. Obviously, we have to fix a lot of things and eliminate those turnovers. But I think it gives us a look at what we could be if we played to our full potential."

Former Oklahoma State star and current Cleveland Brown Brandon Weeden had the worst debut of the three, but nearly came away with a win over Michael Vick and the Eagles.

Vick, who threw four interceptions of his own, threw a game-winning touchdown pass with 1:18 to play in the win over the Browns. Weeden completed just 12-of-35 passes for 118 yards and four interceptions. His quarterback rating of 5.1 was the sixth-lowest in a season opener by any quarterback with at least 15 attempts since 1970, according to STATS, LLC.

His day even started poorly, when he got caught underneath an American flag in pregame warmups.
"I was expecting to get a little warning," Weeden said. "I was playing catch. I always stand on the 35- or 40-yard line. Next thing I know there's about a 100-yard flag over the top of me. I sat on my hands and knees and kind of waited -- me and one of the equipment managers. I looked at him and said, `this (stinks).' "

It's never easy being a rookie starter at any position in the NFL, but it's particularly hard at quarterback. It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out for these three.

Draft prank turns to dream for Watkins

April, 29, 2011
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There's plenty of tension to go around in the NFL Draft's green room. Baylor offensive lineman Danny Watkins sat in the middle of it on Thursday night, unsure of what to expect.

The only thing he could control? The location of his phone. And then it rang, just midway through the first round.

"I thought, 'Oh, it’s too early for a team to be calling,'" Watkins said in this video on the team's website.

It was. Former teammate J.D. Walton, who now plays for the Denver Broncos, was on the other line from a Colorado area code, hoping to give his fellow offensive lineman's heart a jolt.

"We were laughing, he was messing with me," said Watkins, projected by most to go late in the first round.

A few picks later, it was still too early, and Watkins' phone rang again.

"I was like, 'Ahhh, J.D., it was funny once. Come on, man.' And I look and I’m like, 'Hm, that’s a weird number,'" he said.

It was the Philadelphia Eagles telling Watkins they wanted to take him with the 23rd pick in the first round.

"I didn’t think anything of it, and I was like, 'Hello?' They were like, 'Is this Danny Watkins?'"

"And I was like, 'Ohhhh, boy. Here we go,'" he said.

The Canadian will go from blocking for Robert Griffin III, one of the most electrifying quarterbacks in the Big 12, to blocking for Michael Vick, one of the most electrifying quarterbacks in the history of the NFL.

But the first thing that came to mind for the former firefighter from British Columbia? Mark it down for a first in NFL draft history.

"I’m going to have to become a Flyers fan," he said.

Roundup: Gabbert's Wonderlic, OU depth

March, 14, 2011
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Hope you all enjoyed the weekend. I was up in Kansas City taking in some hoops in a great atmosphere at the Sprint Center to see the Jayhawks win their eighth title. And while we were all distracted by hoops and brackets, here's what happened in the world of Big 12 football.

Sooners unveil pre-spring depth chart

Oklahoma doesn't begin spring practice until next Monday, but Bob Stoops unveiled his pre-spring depth chart over the weekend, with plenty of changes.

The off-the-field shakeup in the secondary made the biggest impact. Jamell Fleming is not enrolled this semester, reportedly because of academic conduct. Sophomore Aaron Colvin, who impressed in spot duty last season, was expected to slide up to starting corner in Fleming's absence, but Colvin debuted on the depth chart as the starter at strong safety.

At corner, seldom-used sophomore Gabe Lynn is the starter across from last year's starter, Demontre Hurst. Lynn played in just seven games last year after redshirting in 2009, but he came to Oklahoma as the state's top prospect in the 2009 class and the No. 8 corner and No. 80 overall prospect in the 2009 class. He hadn't shown it in games, but coaches are infamous for lauding players who finally turn potential into production in valuable bowl practices. For Lynn, that might have been the case.

Now, at least until/if Fleming returns, Lynn will get his opportunity.

A stress fracture will keep running back Roy Finch off the field this spring, but check out who's at No. 2: Early-enrolling true freshman Brandon Williams, right behind Brennan Clay. The buzz around Williams when he signed is he could contribute right away, and it looks like that may end up being the case. He was the only early enroller to make the two-deep.

Fullback Trey Millard, who Bob Stoops couldn't find enough good things to say about as a freshman in 2010, is out for the spring for minor offseason surgery.

Gabbert says he scored 42 on Wonderlic

According to Bernie Miklasz at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Blaine Gabbert told Rich Eisen in an NFL.com podcast that he scored a 42 on the Wonderlic, a general aptitude test administered to draft prospects at the combine. A perfect score is 50, so Gabbert can take a little pride in the impressive mark. Gabbert recently moved to the No. 1 pick on Mel Kiper's mock draft, too. So he's got that going for him. A score of 26 is considering a passing grade.

A few notable Wonderlic scores, courtesy of Sports Illustrated:
  • Peyton Manning: 28
  • Eli Manning: 39
  • Drew Brees: 28
  • Ryan Leaf: 27
  • Michael Vick: 20
  • Vince Young: 16
  • Sam Bradford: 36
  • Colt McCoy: 25
  • Tim Tebow: 22

So what's the test ultimately mean? There's not a lot of correlation in score and success. It's just one piece of the puzzle. And for Gabbert, when it comes to intelligence, it's a piece that he won't have any NFL teams doubting.

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