New Big 12 QBs Could Be League's Next Big Stars
By Steve Pipps
The quarterback situation in the Big 12 is always known to be somewhat of a revolving door. Oklahoma started last year with a two-quarterback system, unsure of who should or could handle the job. Oklahoma State has a quarterback who started the season as third stringer, but played well against a strong Missouri team in the Cotton Bowl.
This year looks to be another wild year for quarterbacks, but there is a long time before the season starts and that means a lot of field time for quarterbacks to make their case. Let’s take a look at four teams that have issues at the quarterback position and see what their options are. If they have any chops, they’ll take my advice.
Texas: Last year Texas had its starter, David Ash, ready to go. This was before anyone knew Mack Brown would be gone and everyone had a shot at the crystal football. Ash started strong, but was knocked out of the second game of the season with a concussion. He saw little play after that and he was ruled out for the season in November. He has finally been cleared to play, but Tyrone Swoopes is looking to take his place. Swoopes saw spot play throughout the latter half of the season compiling inconclusive numbers behind a less than stellar Case McCoy. The Longhorns are also bringing Jerrod Heard, a four-star dual-threat quarterback out of Denton, into the fold, and Max Wittek may transfer from USC.
Who Will Start: Come Aug. 30 you’ll see Ash under center. Sure he has problems with staying healthy, but what do you have behind him? Swoopes, with work, will be a solid backup, but he hasn’t shown enough in his few chances on the field to get the start. Heard who will make a great backup and eventual starter, but right now he is too young and inexperienced. He has all the potential and with the new quarterback coach Shawn Watson, all of Texas’ QBs could be something special this year. Wittek is the wild card if he decides to transfer.
Who Should Start: Ash. Barring any setbacks I think he will hold down the starter position for most of the season with both backups getting some snaps. Let’s just hope he doesn’t have a repeat affair with BYU in the second game of the season.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys are in a difficult situation this year losing their end-of-the-season starter Clint Chelf, who took over for a struggling J.W. Walsh during the team's Oct. 19 game against TCU. Walsh studied hard and didn’t let the switch get to him. The Cowboys are also bringing in some talent in Mason Rudolph, a four-star recruit with a big arm. He developed a reputation at Northwestern High School and should fit in well with the pass-heavy Cowboys offense.
Who Will Start: Walsh. I think this is going to be a good offseason battle, but I can’t see Walsh losing the top spot again when they face Florida State the first game of the season. He faced his benching and it couldn’t have felt good. He wants the ball in his hands and has last season to remember the sting. This season he wants the glory.
Who Should Start: Rudolph. Rudolph enrolled early at OSU so he will be a part of spring ball this offseason and will get a chance to become accustomed to the offensive schemes early. As I said, I think it’s going to be a tough battle and regardless of who they choose, they will have a solid backup. Gundy isn’t afraid to go with a true freshman and I think Rudolph will find he fits into the offensive scheme easily. In his senior year he threw for more than 4,300 yards and 64 TDs. It is safe to say Rudolph is comfortable with airing it out.
TCU: Last season TCU had Casey Pachall as its starter. They also had the versatile Trevone Boykin, who started the season at wide receiver, but moved to quarterback for his next six starts after Pachall got injured. Boykin was the star in an anemic offense. They ranked out of the Top 100 in yards per play and total yards. Boykin found big numbers at quarterback, receiver and put up solid rushing numbers. This season TCU has incoming freshman Foster Sawyer, a four-star pro-style quarterback out of Fort Worth, Texas, and three-star Grayson Muehlstein out of Decatur, Texas. Both have big upsides.
Who Will Start: At this point it seems Boykin is the obvious choice. The problem is he has a big upside at receiver and seems comfortable there. The Horned Frogs lack depth at the position. It would help TCU’s offense if they could settle him in at receiver and still have a strong arm under center to find him in the end zone, but that means someone has to step up, which leads me to ...
Who Should Start: It’s a tough call, but Sawyer should be under center. TCU, for as poor as its offense played last season, has enough weapons to compete. Sawyer has a strong pocket presence with good downfield vision. B.J. Catalon will be in the backfield to lead the running game and if they can hold onto the ball this team should contend.
West Virginia: WVU only won four games in 2013 and currently is in serious quarterback trouble. Clint Trickett had surgery for a torn labrum in mid-January and will probably miss spring football. Ford Childress, hyped as a contender to start, left school and looks to be enrolling in a junior college with hopes of transferring closer to home in Texas. That leaves Paul Millard as the only healthy quarterback who knows the offense. However, WVU does have two other options in junior college quarterback Skyler Howard and William Crest, a four-star dual-threat quarterback who can thrive in WVU’s offense, which has featured mobile QBs in the past.
Who Will Start: Millard. Last year Millard was less than stellar. He posted a completion percentage of less than 56 percent with six touchdowns and six interceptions. These aren’t starter numbers, but WVU doesn’t have many other options. Millard has the offseason to get better and prove that he can be a factor
Who Should Start: Millard at the moment is the viable start with two incoming quarterbacks who need to learn the offense, but it’s not definite. I could see Howard winning the job. At Riverside Community College, he threw for more than 3,000 yards and completed 67 percent of his passes. He also threw for 33 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He has a shot to win the starting job outright.
Rudolph is going to be a success story for the Cowboys this season and in future seasons. He’s on campus for spring football and he already understands the type of offense the Cowboys like to run. He had a 72 percent completion percentage and, as I said, threw for more than 4,300 yards last year. He has a big arm and can make big plays. He might not get the start against defending champion Florida State, but he will see game play this season and could be starting by mid-season.