As we gear up for the 2018 season, it’s time to dive head first into the position rankings across the Big 12 Conference. And what better place to start than the position that drives every football team and every level: the quarterback. By Big 12 standards, it’s a bit of a down year for the conference at this position, but they still have an early Heisman contender and plenty of young and upcoming talent under center (or is out of the shotgun a more appropriate phrase for the conference).
So without further ado, here we go with the Heartland College Sports quarterback rankings.
Plus, if you missed our other position group rankings in the Big 12 Conference, here they are:
1. West Virginia Mountaineers
Will Grier has a chance to be the best quarterback in the country this season. He’s a veteran who, prior to his nasty thumb injury, had thrown 34 touchdowns to 12 interceptions, while racking up 3,490 yards. He can sling it with the best of ’em in the conference, but also has the ideal mobility for the position, and when he needs to, he can use his legs to his advantage. The problem is that behind Grier, the Mountaineers are very, very inexperienced. Jack Allison is a redshirt sophomore who sat out last season after transferring from Miami, but he was a four-star prospect coming out of a high school. Then, there’s two freshmen Trey Lowe III and Trent Jackson. But Grier is head and shoulders above all others in the conference, giving WVU the nod for the top spot.
2. Kansas State Wildcats
Remember, this is not a ranking of the top quarterbacks in the Big 12 Conference, but a ranking of the entire position group. Kansas State is one of only two teams in the Big 12 with two starters who have proven they can win games in the conference. Alex Delton and Skylar Thompson were both invited to Big 12 Media Days by Bill Snyder, showing that even the head coach has complete confidence in both young men as players and leaders. Having seen both at the Kansas State spring game, I came away very impressed by each one. Snyder has himself two fantastic options on his hands as the Wildcats enter 2018. It’s an inexperienced crop behind these two, but considering either could be starting quarterbacks in the Big 12, the Wildcats receive the No. 2 spot in our rankings.
3. Texas Longhorns
Once again, do the Longhorns have the third-best quarterback in the conference? Nope. But between Sam Ehlinger and Shane Buechele, there are two players who have proven they can win Big 12 games. That’s invaluable. Ehlinger had a solid freshman season with 1,915 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, seven interceptions, plus 385 rushing yards. Buechele lost the starting job last season, but for his career has tossed 28 touchdowns to 15 interceptions and is a very capable player. After these two is a very talented group of freshman in All-American Cameron Rising and the fifth-ranked player in Oklahoma in Casey Thompson. There’s no shortage of talent for Texas at this position, but of course we’ve said that before.
4. Iowa State Cyclones
The Cyclones received a gift when the NCAA gave Kyle Kempt a sixth year of eligibility. Kempt burst onto the scene last season when he replaced Jacob Park, stunned the Oklahoma Sooners, and helped the Cyclones finished 8-5 with a bowl win. He was an Honorable Mention All-Big 12 QB and broke ISU’s single-season mark in completion percentage at 66.3% with 15 touchdowns to just three interceptions. Behind Kempt is Zeb Noland, who the Cyclones still have lots of confidence in after filling in for the injured Kempt late last season. Then there’s a pair of highly-touted freshmen in Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year Brock Purdy, who was the 24th-ranked pro-style QB and Re-al Mitchell, who was a three-star recruit and ranked the 27th-best dual-threat QB this past recruiting cycle. Great potential and depth for Iowa State.
5. Baylor Bears
The Baylor Bears may have the most upside of any young quarterbacks in the Big 12. Come season’s end, don’t be shocked if Charlie Brewer is the second-best quarterback in the conference. The former Lake Travis, TX standout gained invaluable experience his freshman season, completing 68.1% of his passes, which was second best mark among all-time Big 12 freshmen QBs and second best mark in Baylor history. Behind Brewer is the top-ranked player in the state of Arkansas, in dual-threat QB Gerry Bohanon, one of the best recruits of Matt Rhule’s two-year tenure. Baylor beat out Alabama, Louisville, LSU, Georgia and Auburn for Bohanon’s services. It’s light behind these two, but there’s plenty of reason to believe Baylor is in good shape at the position moving forward.
6. Oklahoma Sooners
Well, Kyler Murray put on hold a multi-million dollar baseball career to come back and player quarterback for OU. Murray was one of the top prospects in the nation coming out of high school. He attended Texas A&M before transferring to Oklahoma. He did play in seven games last season going 18-21 for 359 yards and also had 142 rushing yards. Austin Kendall is second in line, as the former four-star prospect from North Carolina hasn’t seen much time since arriving in Norman. But Lincoln Riley sang Kendall’s praises and claimed Murray was still in a QB battle. Kendall was ranked as the No. 4 pro-style QB coming out of high school. Four-star prospect Tanner Mordecai is the new freshman in town and was touted as a top-20 dual-threat QB, while small school Canadian, Texas native Tanner Schafer (shout out, Wildcats!) adds nice depth.
7. TCU Horned Frogs
The Horned Frogs are moving on from Kenny Hill and it looks like it’ll be Shawn Robinson getting the first shot. Robinson played sparingly last season, getting his most action against Texas Tech, when Hill was injured, and as solid as he was running the ball (10 carries, 84 yards), he was less impressive throwing, finishing 6/17 for 84 yards. Granted it was a windy afternoon, but it remains to be seen how effective Robinson will be passing. Expectations are high for the former four-star recruit as Gary Patterson took the true sophomore to Big 12 Media Days. One of Coach P’s best-ever prospects is true freshman QB Justin Rogers, who is dealing with a knee injury, but he was the No. 2 dual-threat QB in the country out of Louisiana. Grayson Muelstein is now a senior and has seen limited action during his time, but considering he was once the No. 4 QB prospect in Texas, that’s a pretty darn good second or third-string option.
8. Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Cowboys are incredibly unproven at the position. Dru Brown coming to Stillwater from Hawaii was a nice veteran addition for Mike Gundy and is the current frontrunner to be the starter in Week One. Brown threw for 2,800 yards, 18 touchdowns and 8 interceptions during the 2017 season. Then there’s the true freshman stud Spencer Sanders, the Texas 2017-18 Gatorade State Player of the Year and also Mr. Texas Football by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine. The four-star prospect has a high ceiling, but was not in spring camp and if he can compete with Brown for the starting job, he will have to work through some freshman kinks. Keodre Wudtee is a redshirt sophomore who the program hasn’t show much confidence in and Taylor Cornelius is fine to be your third stringer at a major program, but not much more. Mike Gundy still has to find answers after 3+ years of Mason Rudolph.
9. Texas Tech Red Raiders
After names like Davis Webb, Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech now has some searching to do at quarterback. Nic Shimonek was “OK” and now it appears to be a race between McLane Carter and Jett Duffey. Carter received some playing time last season, but had to be bailed out by Shimonek in the Texas game where the Red Raiders came from behind and may have saved Kliff Kingsbury’s job. Duffey was a former three-star prospect and a top 40 dual-threat QB coming out of high school, but he hasn’t played much and has also found himself in some legal trouble since coming to Lubbock. One of the more intriguing quarterbacks on the roster is true freshman Alan Bowman from Grapevine, Texas, who was a three-star prospect and a top 30 quarterback in the country. But if the Red Raiders are going to have a big season, it might be the defense that has to carry them.
10. Kansas Jayhawks
How good are Peyton Bender and Carter Stanley? Are they as bad as they appear to be? Or is it a product of the players around them? I’m not sure. But based on what we saw this group has to be in last place. Both struggled mightily last season. But a very intriguing name is in Lawrence and he’s Miles Kendrick, the JUCO transfer who threw for 1,800 yards and 18 touchdowns, while rushing for over 400 yards and five touchdowns. His mobility, which Carter and Bender don’t possess, may be a real asset operating behind a make shift offensive line. We’ll see how this plays out heading into the fall, but the Jayhawks have plenty to try and figure out at the quarterback position before the season kicks off in less than a month.