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Around the Big 12: Ranking the conference’s best quarterbacks

This year’s crop of quarterbacks leaves more questions than answers

NCAA Football: Iowa State at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

With football approaching, many teams in the Big 12 will look very different. Starting this week I will look at each position group across the Big 12, starting with the quarterbacks.

Four Big 12 starters from last year have graduated, with Baker Mayfield, Mason Rudolph, Kenny Hill, Nic Shimonek. Quarterback battles are going on for Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas, TCU, Kansas State, and Kansas. Each team will be listed in alphabetical order initially, with my team quarterback ranking at the end of the article.

Baylor: Charlie Brewer

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After winning the starting quarterback job in the final four games of last season Charlie Brewer was able to bring new life to the Baylor offense. The true freshman from Lake Travis threw for 1,562 yards and 11 touchdowns against only 4 interceptions while completing 68.1% of his passes. Brewer will have a decent cast of targets to throw to, and the 6’1 quarterback has a playing style similar to past Lake Travis products Michael Brewer (his brother) and Baker Mayfield. Brewer will make Baylor exciting to watch even if the results aren’t quite there.

Iowa State: Kyle Kempt

Kyle Kempt will return to Iowa State after being granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. Kempt will look to add onto an impressive 2017 campaign in which he managed to lead the team to a 6-3 record in games in which he started, including a massive win at then #3 Oklahoma, as he threw for 1,787 yards with 15 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions over the course of the season. He battled shoulder injuries down the stretch, however Iowa State fans should be optimistic about their chances if Kempt retains his 2017 form.

Kansas: Peyton Bender

Kansas v TCU Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Kansas will have a three way battle this fall camp for the starting QB job, however I’ll give the nod to the senior, Peyton Bender. After transferring from Washington State, Bender put up 1,608 yards in ten games, however he threw as many interceptions as touchdowns (10-10). Bender will have to fend off JUCO transfer Miles Kendrick and junior Carter Stanley (famous for beating Texas in 2016.) Whoever starts at quarterback will have a tough task to lead the Jayhawks.

Kansas State: Skylar Thompson

Both Alex Delton and Skylar Thompson will battle for the starting job for the Wildcats. Both Thompson and Delton combined to start seven games down the stretch, with both players throwing for 637 yards. Both are dual threat players, but Delton is the slightly more agile player, and he averaged 5.0 yards per carry compared to Thompson’s 3.9. Both quarterbacks showed good flashes, and will be fun to watch in 2018.

Oklahoma: Kyler Murray

Rose Bowl Game - Oklahoma v Georgia Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Kyler Murray will have big shoes to follow in succeeding Heisman winner Baker Mayfield, however the two-sport athlete will have the opportunity to have just as unique of a legacy after being selected 9th in the MLB draft by the Oakland Athletics. It will be fascinating to watch Murray in coach Lincoln Riley’s offense, as Murray’s dual threat ability should allow Riley to be creative in utilizing him. while Murray was only a special package quarterback last year, his time at Texas A&M showed glimpses of a top caliber player.

Oklahoma State: Spencer Sanders

Mike Gundy will have to decide on four players to start. Former walk-on and fifth year senior Taylor Cornelius led the team in the spring, however sophomore Keondre Wudtee was hurt. Incoming grad transfer Dru Brown from Hawaii should be in the mix as well, however if the past is any indication, incoming freshman Spencer Sanders should get the call to replace Mason Rudolph. After being Texas Gatorade player of the year in 2017 at Denton Ryan, Sanders will look to win the Oklahoma State starting quarterback role, which has been held previously by Mason Rudolph (who started three games as a freshman.) If Sanders wins the job, the dual threat quarterback will be fun to watch as he learns on the fly as a freshman.

TCU: Shawn Robinson

Shawn Robinson won his maiden start in Lubbock last year, and in that game he showed why he is viewed as the future of TCU football. Despite sitting behind Kenny Hill for most of the year, many people viewed Robinson as an instant star out of DeSoto last year, and there are TCU fans that think that with a year of preparation Robinson could be better than Hill was right away. While that may or may not be true, TCU will be able to build a dynamic offense around Robinson, as he has an extremely strong arm and is known for his mobility His play style is reminiscent of a young (2014 or 2015) version of Patrick Mahomes, while TCU fans view him as the next Trevone Boykin. One thing is certain: Robinson will have lots of eyes on him come September 1st vs. Southern.

Texas: Sam Ehlinger

Sam Ehlinger had a decent first year in Austin, however his year will be remembered for his mistakes that gave wins to Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. Ehlinger will battle junior Shane Buechele for the starting nod. Ehlinger is more of a dual threat, while Buechele looked more like a prototypical pocket passer during his freshman season in 2016. Ehlinger is the favorite to win the job, and he will need to improve in 2018 if Texas wants to be back to being relevant in the Big 12 title race.

Texas Tech: Jett Duffey

While McLane Carter may be the favorite pick to be the starting quarterback for the Red Raiders, it’s hard to imagine a world where Kliff Kingsbury doesn’t roll the dice on his extremely talented quarterback. Duffey was an elite 11 quarterback and state champion in 2015, however a major Title IX investigation and multiple crminal incidents and supposed suspensions over his tenure have led to some fans questioning why he is still on the team. He looked promising in the spring, and as long as he stays out of trouble he will have a good shot at leading the Red Raider offense on the field in NRG Stadium on September 1st.

West Virginia: Will Grier

NCAA Football: Iowa State at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

The only returning quarterback in the Big 12 that started at least ten games is Will Grier. The former Florida quarterback threw for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns in only ten games before suffering a gruesome finger injury early on in the 11th game against Texas. Grier has a strong arm, and also managed to complete 64% of his passes in 2017. Look for Grier to try and lead the high powered West Virginia offense to a first Big 12 title in 2018

Overall Rankings:

  1. Will Grier (WVU)
  2. Kyler Murray (OU)
  3. Shawn Robinson (TCU)
  4. Kyle Kempt (ISU)
  5. Charlie Brewer (Baylor)
  6. Skylar Thompson (KSU)
  7. Sam Ehlinger (Texas)
  8. Jett Duffey (Texas Tech)
  9. Peyton Bender (Kansas)
  10. Spencer Sanders (Oklahoma State)

How do you view the Big 12 Quarterbacks? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!