We’ve already run through Nos 6-10 of our ranking of Big 12 teams based on their quarterback situations. Now let’s take a look at the class of the league, starting with the Pokes.
5. Oklahoma State
Projected QB1: Spencer Sanders
Mike Gundy hasn’t revealed his hand just yet but I, like most, consider the former Mr. Texas Football to be in the catbird seat to take the reins in 2019. That’s not to say we won’t see Dru Brown involved in the game plan. New OC Sean Gleeson has a history of playing multiple QBs on the field at the same time, and this could be a perfection situation, with both passers’ pass/run threat, to flex his playcalling muscles in Year 1.
Backups: Dru Brown, Brendan Costello, Shaun Taylor
Costello adds to the strength of the group/situation as a touted early enrollee. Before I draw the ire of the comment section, the Cowboys get into the top 5 ahead of teams like Baylor and K-State who have returning starters, by way of upside with a sprinkle of bias.
4. Iowa State
Projected QB1: Brock Purdy
The Cyclones became a different team when then-true freshman Brock Purdy took over (unfortunately in Stillwater) and finished 7-2 after a 1-3 start. Purdy can hurt you with his arm and his feet, and he showed uncharacteristic poise and efficiency for a rookie thrown into the fire.
Purdy enters his sophomore season with as much promise as any passer in the league. Despite losing a pair of dominant weapons in David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler, the Cyclones seem to be headed in the right direction under Matt Campbell, who spurned some offseason advances and re-upped for five years in Ames.
Backups: Re-al Mitchell, Easton Dean, John Kolar, Blake Clark, Devin Larsen
Behind Purdy, there is a decent amount of talent in the Cyclones QB room. Re-al Mitchell should be slotted for No. 2 reps after a redshirt year, and incoming frosh Easton Dean is an intriguing dual-threat talent out of Kansas. Former OSU quarterback John Kolar transferred in as graduate transfer as is eligible this season, as well.
3. Texas Tech
Projected Starter: Alan Bowman
First-year head coach Matt Wells has his work cut out for trying to turn around Texas Tech’s maligned defense, but on offense he’s earns an early reprieve with an established starter returning, and now healthy, in Alan Bowman.
Bowman was on a tear before a pair of collapsed lungs derailed his season late. In just eight games he totaled 2,638 yards, 17 TDs to seven picks and logged an impressive 69.4 percent completion percentage.
If he can keep that going under Matt Wells’ new system, the Red Raiders offense should thrive. Just because Kliff Kingsbury is gone, don’t expect Tech to take a huge step back offensively. Wells, and incoming OC David Yost, captained a dynamic offense at Utah State that was second to only Oklahoma in points per game (47.5), was eighth in offensive points per drive (3.21) and 10th in offensive efficiency.
Backups: Jett Duffey, Maverick McIvor, Xavier Martin
Jett Duffey is a legit dual-threat option who spelled Bowman throughout the season in 2018. Maverick McIvor, in addition to having the coolest name on the roster, is an incoming freshman who also held offers from the likes of USC, Washington State and Boise State.
Projected QB1: Sam Ehlinger
A case could be made for either Texas Tech or Iowa State to be in this spot based on overall upside residing at the top of their QB depth chart, but I had to go with the proven winner in Sam Ehlinger.
Ehlinger, fresh off of a 3,296-yard season when he threw 25 scores to only five INTs, is the Big 12’s leading returning passer. His 41 total TDs came in behind only Colt McCoy’s record-setting 2008 campaign in UT history. Somehow Ehlinger is still only a junior. The offense is his until he relinquishes it.
Backups: Casey Thompson, Roschon Johnson, Tremayne Prudhomme
Texas’ QB room has gotten a little thinner over the offseason with former starter Shane Buechele transferring to SMU and former four-star prospect Cam Rising transferring to Utah, but it still includes plenty of talent.
The No. 6 dual-threat quarterback for 2019, Roschon Johnson, enrolled early and took part in the spring, and Oklahoma product Casey Thompson decided to stick around after previously entering the transfer portal. He’ll likely be slotted at QB2.
Projected QB1: Jalen Hurts
Lincoln Riley molded two somewhat under-the-radar quarterback transfers into back-to-back Heisman winners turned back-to-back No. 1 over picks in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. What can he do with the most-accomplished and sought-after QB transfer, maybe ever?
There are still plenty of questions to be answered like how Jalen Hurts fits into OU’s offense. Spoiler alert: Riley will mold OU’s offense to fit Hurts’ skillset. But the biggest question for me is how Oklahoma looks up front after bidding farewell to four starters from the best O-line in the country.
My gut tells me they’ll probably be just fine behind the tutelage of Bill Bedenbaugh and the snap of Creed Humphrey, but expecting neither a learning curve nor a dip in production would be downright unreasonable. (So, par for the course in Sooner land.)
Backups: Tanner Mordecai, Spencer Rattler, Tanner Schafer, Connor McGinnis, Colt Adkinson
Even after saying goodbye (somewhat begrudgingly) to Austin Kendall, the Sooners still have former four-star talent Tanner Mordecai in the QB room and incoming five-star talent, Spencer Rattler, further boosting their overall ranking.
The recent trend of Norman as a destination for high-end free agent passers begs the question as to whether Riley will be able to keep any of his high-end, young arm talent in-house, but you can’t argue with his results.