Big 12 Spotlight: Five spring position battles to track
Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.
Spring football has started for some, is on the horizon for many others, so this week we will take a look at some key position battles in each Power Five conference. Today we look at the Big 12 with five interesting quarterback battles.
TEXAS - SAM EHLINGER VS. SHANE BUECHELE
The skinny: Don’t look for a quick answer regarding the future quarterback from Tom Herman in Austin, so be prepared for plenty of back-and-forth between Sam Ehlinger and Shane Buechele during the spring and summer. Both started six games in 2017 and bring different strengths to the table, but Ehlinger may be the dual-threat that Herman likes to use in his offense. Whatever the outcome is during the spring, look for this competition to drag out until at least the end of August.
Farrell’s take: Both have experience so there’s no reason to include any newcomers here, and both have the talent to lead this team to very good things. Both prospects were four-stars out of high school and had different skillsets with Ehlinger being the more mobile of the two and Buechele being more technically advanced as a passer. Whoever wins the job, and it will go into the fall for sure, Texas looks to be in good shape.
OKLAHOMA - KYLER MURRAY VS. AUSTIN KENDALL
The skinny: Most projections have Kyler Murray as the replacement for Baker Mayfield, but is that decision certain? Murray is splitting time this spring between football and baseball, which should give Austin Kendall more experience and confidence. Lincoln Riley does not seem to be in any rush to make a final decision so a big spring by Kendall could make this competition a little closer than people are assuming in March.
Farrell’s take: Both were four-stars out of high school and both are very different quarterbacks. I think Murray’s elite ability to escape and run makes him the favorite for the job although Kendall is the more natural pocket passer. Many feel this is Murray’s job to lose as he tries to replace Mayfield, an impossible job, and I tend to agree.
KANSAS STATE - SKYLAR THOMPSON VS. ALEX DELTON
The skinny: This could turn out to be one of the more intriguing quarterback battles in the country during the spring. Alex Delton passed for 637 yards and rushed for 575 yards in 2017, while Skylar Thompson passed for 689 yards and rushed for 324 yards. Thompson has the stronger arm, while Delton is more athletic and is the better dual-threat of the two. While both have different strengths, consistency is something that will need to improve if the Wildcats hope to have a successful season in 2018. If not, look for both to play this fall.
Farrell’s take: Both players can move and extend the play although Delton is the more dangerous runner. I was a big fan of Thompson coming out of high school as he seemed to have that “it factor” but Dalton was exciting to watch, especially as a runner. Whoever emerges as the starter will be pushed constantly by the other because both have a lot of upside.
OKLA. STATE - TAYLOR CORNELIUS VS. KEONDRE WUDTEE VS. DRU BROWN
The skinny: The quarterback competition in Stillwater should be an interesting one in the coming months. The Cowboys do bring back Taylor Cornelius, who has 24 career pass attempts, and Keondre Wudtee, but it is graduate transfer Dru Brown who may create the most buzz. Mike Gundy brought in Brown for a reason, and with 5,273 yards and 37 touchdowns during his two seasons at Hawaii, he may be the answer that Gundy is looking for. And while he won’t be a factor during the spring, incoming freshman Spencer Sanders is someone worth keeping an eye on when he arrives during the summer.
Farrell’s take: Replacing Mason Rudolph is quite the challenge but there are some good fits to choose from. Incoming freshman Sanders has the best upside, but he’s not ready for prime time yet. Brown was brought in to play early. Only Sanders was heavily recruited out of high school.
TEXAS TECH - MCCLANE CARTER VS. JETT DUFFEY VS. ALAN BOWMAN
The skinny: The Red Raiders never really seem to have a problem finding a quarterback to run their prolific offense, so while Nic Shimonek’s 3,963 yards and 33 touchdown passes will be missed, there are a trio of candidates to replace him. Junior McClane Carter did start one game last season, although he only completed 43 percent of his passes during that opportunity. Jett Duffey is more of a dual-threat than Carter, and will likely get an equal amount of reps this spring, while early enrollee Alan Bowman has plenty of potential but should be eased into the offense. As mentioned, Kliff Kingsbury has a good reputation of finding the next quarterback, but this time the process may take a little longer.
Farrell’s take: All three are former three-star prospects who could be stat stuffers in the Texas Tech offense. I like Bowman’s upside quite a bit but I’m not sure he’ll be ready to take over right away so this could be a Carter vs. Duffey battle. I know one thing, whoever wins the job will throw the ball a ton of put up some serious numbers unless Kingsbury decides to go with a dual-quarterback system for a year.