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Rivals QB Week: Ranking the Big 12

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Part of QB Week is a look at the QB situations at each program across the Power Five conferences. Today, we conclude our league-by-league breakdown with a look at the Big 12, ranked in order of which program has the best situations heading into the season.


1. Baker Mayfield – Oklahoma

Review: Despite putting up huge numbers at Austin (Texas) Lake Travis, Mayfield decided to walk on at Texas Tech after not landing many major offers. At the time, only FAU, Rice and Washington State had offered. He had a great freshman season with the Red Raiders but transferred after a “miscommunication” with the coaching staff. Last season at Oklahoma, he threw for 3,700 yards with 36 TDs and seven picks and also rushed for seven scores.

Farrell’s Take: With a gunslinger’s mentality, Mayfield had a great high school career but many felt he was a system kid and he didn’t get a ton of offers. Now that he’s settled into the OU spread offense and has been driving opponents crazy with his ability to extend the play and run when needed, he’s one of the top players in the country heading into the season and a Heisman candidate. I’m happy with his three-star ranking since we saw something none of the local schools did at least but he has clearly outplayed his ranking and his leaderships skills are off the chart.

2. Seth Russell – Baylor

Review: Russell was a three-star prospect out of Garland, Texas, who picked Baylor over offers from Kansas, North Texas and Wake Forest. Last season, Russell threw 29 touchdowns in only seven games before suffering a neck injury.

Farrell’s Take: Russell was a big, skinny kid who could run around and sling the rock but wasn’t polished and made some poor decisions with the ball, which led to his three-star ranking. The weapons he had at Baylor certainly helped him last season and he’s improved in every facet of the game from decision making to accuracy to knowing when to tuck and run and when to throw. But, how will he do this season? Coming off a serious injury and with fewer playmakers, he could fall off this list by mid-season.

3. Patrick Mahomes - Texas Tech

Review: Mahomes was a high three-star prospect in high school who also put up huge numbers and he picked Texas Tech over Houston, Rice and others. Last season, Mahomes threw for 4,653 yards with 36 touchdowns and 15 interceptions and he was second on the team with 456 rushing yards and 10 scores.

Farrell’s Take: Another three-star on the list who has excelled, Mahomes was a big, dual-threat who was in the national top 12 at his position and just shy of a fourth star. We don’t base rankings on offers, which is good for Mahomes who didn’t have many. We also don’t base them on stats and Mahomes' senior stats in high school were ridiculous. Perhaps we should have seen a bit more from him out of high school as he’s out-playing his ranking for sure.

4. Mason Rudolph - Oklahoma State

Review: Out of Rock Hill (S.C.) Northwestern, Rudolph picked Oklahoma State over LSU, Virginia Tech and others. He was rated as the ninth-best pro-style quarterback in the 2014 class. Last season, Rudolph threw for 3,770 yards with 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Farrell’s Take: Rudolph, a four-star coming out of high school, was a huge kid with a live arm who showed excellent accuracy for a signal-caller who could be tempted to just fire the ball on every throw. He chose the right offense because he’s a quick decision-maker who is made for a spread, throwing offense where he can put up huge numbers. He’s a name to keep an eye on for a breakout season.

5. Kenny Hill – TCU

Review: In the spring before his senior season, Hill committed to Texas A&M over Texas Tech, Missouri and Kansas State. Hill threw for 2,649 yards and 23 touchdowns in eight games two seasons ago at Texas A&M before deciding to transfer.

Farrell’s Take: Hill was the No. 4 dual-threat out of high school and a top 150 prospect and I loved his combination of arm strength and ability to run through tackles. Hill was more of a runner than an accomplished passer in high school but he put good spin on the ball and showed impressive touch in camp situations. His start at Texas A&M was a great one but trademarking his name Kenny Trill was a joke. Now he needs to re-focus and is working with some great coaches.

6. Skyler Howard - West Virginia

Review: Howard, who played at Riverside (Calif.) C.C., committed to West Virginia with his only other offers being New Mexico State and Northern Colorado. Utah and San Jose State were also interested in the three-star prospect. He threw for 3,145 yards with 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season and also rushed for six scores.

Farrell’s Take: The former three-star dual-threat from JUCO wasn’t heavily recruited and was lower on the three-star scale mainly because he lacked height and had to find throwing lanes. However, he was a good decision maker with an average arm but he could extend the play and gain yards on the ground. He needs to improve his accuracy but he has a chance to put up big numbers in this system again this year.

7. Shane Buechele OR Tyrone Swoopes – Texas

Review: Oklahoma seemed to be a frontrunner for Buechele because of family ties to the Sooners but he picked Texas in February of his junior year and didn’t look back. Buechele was rated as the fifth-best dual-threat QB in the 2016 class. Swoopes finished as a low four-star prospect and No. 13 among dual-threat QBs in the 2013 class.

Farrell’s Take: I think it’s clear the true freshman will get the nod and the thing I liked about Buechele is that nothing seemed to faze him at the high school level. He was mature for his age and showed good size, footwork and the ability to make plays passing or running. We had him just outside our Rivals100 but I have a feeling he could end up being a rankings regret. As for Swoopes, his junior film was simply amazing and he got worse every time I saw him since. From five-star to outside the Rivals250, that doesn’t happen that often.

8. Joel Lanning - Iowa State

Review: Lanning was a three-star dual-threat quarterback who was ranked fourth in the 2013 Iowa state rankings. He also had an offer from Nebraska.

Farrell’s Take: Lanning was a low-level three star in 2013 coming out of high school who had adequate size and could run the ball and made smart decisions but wasn’t great at any one thing. He was a system kid and could be a great fit for Iowa State’s offense. Last year he showed flashes of his ability in the passing game and on the ground. He was key in the win against Texas and played well against a few other Big 12 teams.

9. Jesse Ertz - Kansas State

Review: Ertz committed to Kansas State in the summer before his senior season. His only other offer at the time was from Western Illinois. He injured his knee on the first offensive snap last season and left a play later.

Farrell’s Take: Ertz was a little recruited two-star out of Iowa with a tall, skinny frame who put up big numbers but didn’t wow in any aspect when it came to being an FBS recruit. His arm strength was average despite his gaudy numbers but he has emerged as the starter for Kansas State, something we didn’t really see down the line.

10. Ryan Willis or Montell Cozart – Kansas

Review: Willis picked Kansas shortly after a trip to Kansas State, where his father played in the early 1980s. Illinois, Tulsa and Wyoming were also involved. Cozart was also a three-star and the two attended the same high school. He selected the Jayhawks over Indiana, Kansas State, Minnesota, Northern Illinois and West Virginia.

Farrell’s Take: Willis was a high three-star in the 2015 class that we liked quite a bit and a good in-state get. He showed off a strong arm, led his receivers very well and never wore down in camp settings. On film he was equally impressive although a bit raw in some areas. Cozart was a mid-range three-star and a dual threat who could drive you crazy at times with his run-pass deception. He’s at his best outside the pocket. Neither has shown the ability to avoid mistakes in college but they don’t have a ton of talent around them yet.