One of the biggest questions circling the Texas Tech football program this off-season is who will lead the Red Raider onto the field this fall? As many know the 2022 roster features three quarterbacks, Tyler Shough, Donavan Smith, and Behren Morton, all of which show tremendous promise at quarterback.
Tyler Shough, pronounced “Shuck”, transferred into the program in the 2020 off-season after leading the Oregon Ducks to a PAC-12 Championship and an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. In his career with the Ducks Shough had a passing completion rate of just under 65%. He through for 1,703 yards and 16 touchdowns. In his first three years in college football, he threw only 6 interceptions.
Shough arrived in Lubbock under previous head coach Matt Wells and was named the starting quarterback coming out of preseason camp in 2021 after the departure of Alan Bowman to Michigan. However, in Tech’s 70-35 loss to the University of Texas, Shough would suffer a broken collar bone and be sidelined for the majority of the 2021 season. Thus far in his career with the Red Raiders, Shough has started 4 games, thrown for 872 yards, and recorded 6 touchdowns.
Sophomore Donovan Smith could be well on his way to cementing a legacy as at least one of the Red Raider greats. Smith Graduated from Frenship high school after his father Deandre joined Matt Wells staff as a running backs coach, the older Smith has accepted a position as running backs coach for the New York Giants for the 2022 NFL season.
At Frenship, Smith threw for 3,123 yards and 25 touchdowns. Smith earned District 2-6A Co-offensive Player of the Year, after leading Frenship to its first winning season since 2015.
Smith earned the starting role on October 30, when he played the entire second half of the 21-52 loss to the Oklahoma Sooners. Despite the loss, Smith recorded 17 completions on 22 attempts for 192 yards. His first career touchdown came on a 17-yard completion to J.J. Sparkman at the end of the third quarter.
The following week he led the Red Raiders to a 41-38 win over the Iowa State Cyclones. After dropping the final two games of the season, Smith played a big role in the 34-7 upset of Mississippi State in the Liberty Bowl on December 28th.
Behren Morton is another athlete with potential to set himself apart with some of the Red Raider greats and Morton is a Red Raider through and through. Morton was born in Lubbock during his Father James’s 11-year tenure as head coach at Monterey high school. The redshirt freshman was touted as one of the top quarterbacks in the country.
Morton was one of 11 quarterbacks nominated for the 2020 National High School Quarterback of the Year Award. He wrapped up his senior year in high school throwing for 3,613 yards and 37 touchdowns. Also, recording 893 yards with his legs and another 19 touchdowns. Over his entire high school career Morton recorded 8,800 yards.
In 2021 Morton appeared in two games, the first was the October 16th contest against Kansas, and the November 20th game against Oklahoma state where he recorded 15 yards rushing.
Tyler Shough is undoubtedly a very talented quarterback and could be a strong piece of the Tech offense, unfortunately due to his injury he has not been on the field enough to solidify that role. Donovan Smith has shown us a lot and already enjoyed some great success; however, the program has undergone some pivotal changes this off season, it will be essential for him to adjust to the new system early to remain a contender.
Behren Morton not yet been given the opportunity to prove himself but has tremendous potential and can only get better learning from the veterans.
Needless to say, it is still too early to say for certain who Coach McGuire might tap as the starter. Based on what we know right now I would argue Donovan Smith as the safest bet, but I would not count Shough or Morton out at all.
All three quarterbacks will have to battle it out every day as the Red Raider prepare for game day this fall and I have complete faith in Coach McGuire to make the right decision.