There is no position more important on the football field than quarterback, and probably no league in the country that depends more heavily on that position than the Big 12. So by my deductive, yet slightly biased reasoning, this is the most important list in college football. No pressure, Kyle.
Let’s take a gander at the quarterback situations for each of the league’s teams as they head into the summer, and rank them from least ideal to most. I’m weighing heavily in favor of teams with established starters while accounting for overall talent and depth.
Projected QB1: Thomas MacVittie
Les Miles welcomes junior college transfer, and former Pitt QB, Thomas MacVittie. He was the No. 2 pro-style passer among the juco ranks last year, according to 247Sports, after throwing for 1,064 yards and 16 scores for Mesa Community College. He previously spent two seasons at Pittsburgh but did not record any passing stats.
Backups: Carter Stanley, Miles Kendrick, Torry Locklin, Miles Fallin, Billy Maples
The supporting cast are all holdovers from the David Beaty era. Carter Stanley and Miles Kendrick each saw the field behind outgoing senior Peyton Bender, but totaled just 404 yards combined last season. Former three-star passer Torry Locklin redshirted last year.
It’s probably MacVittie’s job to lose, which isn’t a bad place to be with your QB heading into the dog days. The overall talent level just isn’t there to get KU out of the basement of the Big 12 in terms of quarterback situations — and probably otherwise — but that just shows how strong this league is in terms of arm talent.
9. Kansas State
Projected QB1: Skylar Thompson
A lot has changed in the Little Apple since the Cowboys’ forgettable trip north last October. The Bill Snyder era has given way to the Chris Klieman regime. Expect a more Big 12-centric passing attack than the one we’re used to seeing out of the Wildcats.
Also gone is Alex Delton, who transferred to TCU this offseason. Fortunately for Skylar Thompson, not a lot has changed up front. The Wildcats return three senior starters from one of the better blocking OL units in the Big 12 last year.
Backups: John Holcombe II, Jaren Lewis, Nick Ast, Ryan Henington
John Holcombe II redshirted last year and boasts a year’s worth of experience, albeit in a completely different offense. Three-star QB Jaren Lewis headlined the Wildcats’ 2019 class. He’s a dual-threat passer who could push for reps as well.
Thompson has looked like a world-beater at times — like when he’s faced Oklahoma State — but has struggled with inconsistency over his two-year tenure. He’ll need to make the most of the switch in playbooks to keep a couple of up-and-comers off his heels.
Projected QB1: Your guess is as good as mine.
The Horned Frogs may have the most questions marks of any team on the board, but they aren’t without talent in the QB room.
Backups Candidates: Alex Delton, Justin Rogers, Max Duggan, Matthew Baldwin (pending eligibility), Mike Collins, Matthew Downing, Grant Beucler
With Shawn Robinson’s transfer to Missouri, the most experienced member of Gary Patterson’s quarterback group is newcomer Alex Delton, who comes to Ft. Worth as a graduate transfer from K-State.
But the highest upside belongs to Justin Rogers, the former four-star prospect rated as the No. 3 dual-threat passer in the 2018 class. Injury issues have kept him from carving out a role thus far, but he did appear, briefly, in TCU’s bowl game.
The Frogs also added four-star high school quarterback Max Duggan as part of their 2019 class as well as former four-star Matthew Baldwin, who transferred in from Ohio State. Baldwin’s eligibility is unclear as his appeal is currently pending with the NCAA. If it were to go favorably for Baldwin and TCU, that adds even more talent to an already compelling QB race come fall camp.
7. West Virginia
Projected QB1: Austin Kendall or Jack Allison
First-year head coach Neal Brown has a pair of transfers to choose from when he pencils in his opening week depth chart, but apparently the two are in a dead heat heading into the summer.
Kendall was thought to be in the mix at OU coming into 2019 after sitting behind two Heisman winners in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. That is, until Jalen Hurts dropped his anchor in Norman.
Allison saw snaps as Will Grier’s backup last year before earning his first career start in the Camping World Bowl. The former Miami (Fl.) transfer’s performance was somewhat blasé, throwing for 277 yards and an interception on just 48.6 completion percentage.
Heading into the spring, conventional wisdom gave Kendall the edge (which is where I think I sit), but those in the know seem ambivalent with even redshirt frosh Trey Lowe’s name getting mentioned as a possible contender for reps.
Backups: Kendall or Allison, Trey Lowe III, Trent Jackson, Jarrett Doege (not eligible)
Tabbed for future reference: Former Bowling Green State record-setter Jarrett Doege. He started 12 games last season, leading the Mid-American in passing yards and touchdowns. He could make a splash in the Big 12, but not just yet. He’s required to sit out the 2019 season but has two years of eligibility and an unused redshirt year at his disposal starting in 2020.
Overall, there are as many questions as talented passers in Morgantown, and add to that a rebuilding offensive line in Year 1 of a new regime, and I’m in wait-and-see mode. The lack of a sure-fire starter drops the Mountaineers to No. 7 on my list.
Projected QB1: Charlie Brewer
Brewer returns as the favorite to start following a productive sophomore season in which he tossed the rock for over 3,000 yards at a completion percentage of 61.5 percent. He was hampered by a concussion and then struggled late in the year including a head-scratching performance in a loss to TCU. But Brewer finished strong amassing nearly 700 yards and five TDs to just two interceptions over his final two games, both wins over Texas Tech and Vanderbilt in the Texas Bowl.
Backups: Gerry Bohanon, Jacob Zeno, Peyton Powell, Preston Weeks, Garret McGuire, Brandon Bass
Gerry Bohanon is the only returning Baylor QB besides Brewer with any on-field experience. That experience consists of one pass attempt in the bowl game as a true frosh. (He also rushed it twice for 5 yards against OSU.) But Peyton Powell, who is listed as QB/WR on the roster, and Jacob Zeno are both incoming four-star prospects who boost the overall talent of the group.
Stay tuned for Part 2, where we look at the cream of the crop of Big 12 passers.