Spring Big 12 QB battles heavy on intrigue

February, 19, 2013
2/19/13
9:00
AM CT

Play a word-association game with the average college football fan, and if you start talking Big 12, "quarterbacks" will be making an appearance before too long. Talk quarterbacks, and "Big 12" will get a mention in minutes. The two have become synonymous, setting the standard for quarterback play. Just go back to 2007 and 2008 when Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Chase Daniel, Graham Harrell, Zac Robinson and Todd Reesing cemented the league's reputation as the conference of quarterbacks.

Half a decade later, the Big 12 is still crazy for quarterbacks, but the feel will be much different this spring. For almost everyone in the conference, developing (or for some, finding) their new quarterback in the spring will decide how the fall looks.

Only three Big 12 teams bring back their starting quarterback from the end of the season, and don't be at all surprised if Wes Lunt at Oklahoma State and Casey Pachall at TCU make Texas' David Ash the league's only returning starting quarterback in 2013.

There's not a Big 12 team likely to start the fall in the top 10, so the conference is within reach for a whole lot of teams. Talent alone won't carry any Big 12 team to a title, or eliminate any others.

This fall, it's about the quarterbacks again, but this time, it's all about development. That begins when they get on campus but takes center stage this spring with big talents like West Virginia's Geno Smith, Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Baylor's Nick Florence leaving their team's quarterback spot unoccupied. Finding and developing replacements might have never been more important on such a large scale. Watching those races during the spring will decide who totes the league trophy back to campus in December. Just ask Nebraska from 2009 and 2010 and check the list of Big 12 title winners over the better part of the decade. If you don't have excellent quarterback play, you can safely consider yourself a championship afterthought.

[+] EnlargeBryce Petty
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsBaylor QB Bryce Petty has the tools and the talent around him to potentially become a Heisman candidate in 2013.
Junior Bryce Petty will try to be the third consecutive Baylor quarterback to break the school record for passing yards, and Art Briles' track record with quarterbacks suggests that even if Petty doesn't break it, he'll be solid. Kevin Kolb, Case Keenum and Robert Griffin III can attest to that. Iowa State hasn't had any true consistency at quarterback under Paul Rhoads, but sophomore Floridian Sam B. Richardson would like to change that, and there's no Plan B after Jared Barnett transferred.

The Dayne Crist experiment met an early end at Kansas when he was benched for freshman Michael Cummings last season, but BYU transfer Jake Heaps is up off the bench and will try to end KU's 21-game Big 12 losing streak this fall. Collin Klein wasn't a traditional quarterback. Neither is his possible heir, Daniel Sams. Junior college transfer Jake Waters is a traditional passer who broke Cam Newton's completion percentage record last season, and will face off against Sams to help K-State find some more magic next fall after winning the Big 12 title.

The Belldozer, Blake Bell, looks like a suitable replacement for four-year starter Jones, but he'll have to prove it in Norman this spring. Oklahoma's hopes for a third Big 12 title in four years depend on it, and if he's not ready, Trevor Knight may be there to provide the Sooners a second option.

One quarterback cliche says if you've got two passers, you don't have one. Oklahoma State has three. What does that mean? It'll find out for sure this fall, but J.W. Walsh, Clint Chelf and Lunt all won games, lost games and started about a third of the season for the Pokes. New offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich has to sort out that mess first, but anyone at Oklahoma State will tell you that having those three is a problem plenty of other OCs would love to have.

Can Michael Brewer mature into the star his high school career and spot duty behind Seth Doege last season suggest he'll be? There might be a comparison or two to that Johnny guy in College Station, Texas, this spring, but can new coach Kliff Kingsbury mature Brewer into a star? Dana Holgorsen has to find Smith's replacement at West Virginia among a pair of Texans -- the more experienced Paul Millard versus understudy Ford Childress.

There will be plenty of intrigue at quarterback this spring to go around the Big 12. The circumstances and challenges have changed. The bar's height and the importance of developing the position has not.

Let the games begin.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?

103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS

Fitzsimmons and Durrett: OSU scandal

Part 2 of the articles on OSU's involvment in academic fraud was released. Some claim the expose is unfounded. Ian and Richard warn that there are two sides to all stories.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Longhorns talk

Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mack Brown, Manny Diaz and all the latest with the Texas Longhorns.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Barkley on Manziel

Fitzsimmons and Durrett give you the latest on the Johnny Manziel story and Charles Barkley weighs in. You won't believe who the outspoken NBA Hall of Famer is disappointed in and what he thinks about the autograph allegations.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Kirk Herbstreit

Kirk Herbstreit joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett for his weekly visit to preview the 2013 college football season.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Andy Dalton

Former TCU and current Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the expectations for the Bengals this season, give a prediction for the TCU-LSU game and talk about what it's like having the Hard Knocks cameras follow him.

Galloway and Company: Manziel talk

Randy Galloway, Matt Mosley, and Mark Friedman react to Dez Bryant's comments regarding the NCAA's ongoing investigation of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Fitzsimmons and Durrett: Dez Bryant sounds off

Richard Durrett, Ian Fitzsimmons and Glenn "Stretch" Smith react to Dez Bryant sounding off yesterday after practice about Johnny Manziel and the shadiness of the NCAA.

Fitzsimmons and Durrett: Dan Beebe

Former NCAA investigator and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to weigh in on the Johnny Manziel drama and give some insight as to what goes on during an NCAA investigation.