Big 12 Spotlight: Breaking down QB situations across the league
In the Big 12, you either have your QB1 etched in stone or you don't - and there's little wiggle room when it comes to that observation. Schools like Texas, Baylor, Iowa State and Kansas State know who'll be under center when the season begins. However, Oklahoma and West Virginia and TCU must make critical decisions about who'll be handed the reins. Here's a look at where the Big 12 quarterback battles stand after the spring.
Starter: Charlie Brewer
All signs point to the 2019 season as a breakout campaign for Brewer. A junior, Brewer started four games as a true freshman in 2017 and grabbed hold of the starting job over Jalan McClendon last year. He’s the seasoned veteran in a locker room loaded with young, promising signal-callers. Brewer finished the 2018 season with a bang, throwing for 384 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Bears’ Texas Bowl victory over Vanderbilt. He’ll look to build on that late-season success as the guy for Baylor this year.
Starter: Brock Purdy
Backups: Re-al Mitchell
Purdy was a late addition to the Cyclones’ 2018 recruiting class, but he quickly made his way to the field as a true freshman last fall. Now, the job unequivocally belongs to him as he prepares for his sophomore season. Purdy threw for 2,250 yards and 16 touchdowns to go with another 308 yards rushing and five scores in 10 games a year ago. The onus will now be on Purdy to help Iowa State rebound after losing wide receiver Hakeem Butler and running back David Montgomery to the NFL Draft.
Starter: Thomas MacVittie
Quarterback battles are nothing new for first-year Jayhawks coach Les Miles, but this is the first big test for the Mad Hatter now that he’s overseeing Kansas. MacVittie and Stanley battled for the starting job throughout the spring and MacVittie has the edge heading into fall camp. He was previously at Pitt for two seasons and then spent time at junior college, but his relationship with Miles dates back to the coach’s time at LSU. That experience could be the difference as Miles solidifies a decision before the opener.
Starter: Skylar Thompson
There’s no secret that Thompson is the starting quarterback in Manhattan. Word around campus is that Thompson is playing with a ton of confidence this spring, which should inspire the same sentiment from the fan base entering the 2019 season. He entered spring ball as the unquestioned No. 1 guy on the depth chart, which shows the personal growth from this time last year. The bigger battle lies with his back-ups, and it appears Holcombe is the favorite as the No. 2.
Since transferring to Oklahoma from Alabama, all eyes have been on Hurts this spring in Norman. The quarterback who lifted the Crimson Tide to the national championship as a true freshman in 2016 has generated quite the buzz as he looks to step in where Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield left off. In the spring game, Hurts completed 11-of-14 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown and let’s be honest -- showed why he’s the current favorite to start Week 1 vs. Houston. The real battle will begin next month when signee Spencer Rattler, a five-star, steps foot on campus.
Everyone is awaiting a verdict on the Oklahoma State quarterback competition, but the spring came and went and that question still remains. Sanders is the probable favorite - for now. He threw a touchdown to Tyrell Alexander in the Cowboys’ spring game last weekend. Meanwhile, Brown hurt his chances with a red-zone interception. The coaches complimented both quarterbacks and indicated they each had moments throughout spring practices, so the anticipation for Mike Gundy to name a starter will continue into fall camp.
TCU fans are still feeling the hangover of Shawn Robinson’s decision to transfer to Missouri. Horned Frogs fans were left without a spring game and a huge mystery hanging over the most important position on the field. Gary Patterson said the competition is down to three - Delton, Rogers and Duggan - who are all jockeying for the starting job and each bring a unique set of talents to the position. Rogers is finally healthy after suffering a serious knee injury as a senior in high school. Delton brings a veteran-like approach to the quarterback room. Duggan has flashed some promise as a true freshman as well. This may be the most fascinating race in the entire conference.
Starter: Sam Ehlinger
When it comes to Texas, it’s Ehlinger’s world and we’re all just living in it. The junior quarterback helped Texas to a 10-4 mark in 2018, which ended with a fantastic performance in the Sugar Bowl as the Longhorns easily handled Georgia. Ehlinger is the unquestioned starter heading into the 2019 season, which will come with plenty of pressure to capture a Big 12 championship.
Another quarterback competition in Texas resides in Lubbock, where it’s down to two. Bowman is the probable favorite here, but he’s not officially locked in as Texas Tech’s starter just yet. Duffey is in the mix and his odds increased after one-time stater McLane Carter announced he was entering the transfer portal last week. Carter started the 2018 season as the Red Raiders’ starter under center. Now, the decision on a starter falls to first-year coach Matt Wells, who watched Bowman throw for 220 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game, including two late scoring drives. Duffey accounted for 86 yards and the first scoring drive of the contest.
The competition to replace Will Grier is underway in Morgantown. Former Sooner Kendall is giving former Hurricane Allison a run for his money. Isn’t the transfer portal riveting? Allison has been at West Virginia waiting his turn for two seasons, but that won’t matter to first-year Mountaineers coach Neal Brown. Kendall and Allison split first-team reps throughout the spring, but all signs point to Kendall being the QB1 when West Virginia opens the season against James Madison. Kendall has seemingly won the favor of his teammates -- and done so in a short period of time. We’ll see how that comes into play when the competition resumes this summer.