As we gear up for the 2019 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, there may be a handful of unknowns at the position, but there are still two quarterbacks who show up in the Heisman odds preseason list.
So without further ado, here we go with the Heartland College Sports quarterback rankings for the 2019 Big 12 football season.
1. Texas Longhorns
Remember, this is a list for ranking the quarterback position as a unit, not simply the best quarterback for each team in the conference. Texas beats out Oklahoma, but it’s by a razor thin margin. Sam Ehlinger is the quarterback in the conference I’d take if I had to win one game today. Sure, Jalen Hurts at OU has the better offensive coach and may put up bigger numbers, but that’s not what this list is about. Ehlinger threw 25 touchdowns to just five interceptions last season, along with 16 rushing touchdowns. Tom Herman does need to lessen the rushing load on his QB this fall, but that’s a conversation for another day.
Behind Ehlinger is Casey Thompson, who was an ESPN Top 300 player and the No. 11 dual-threat QB in the Class of 2018. He did not play last season, but the upside remains very high. However, Tom Herman will hope he doesn’t need to call upon Thompson in a big spot this season. Then, there’s true freshman Roschon Johnson, who was an All-American in high school and was ranked as a Top 10 dual threat QB by Rivals.
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2. Oklahoma Sooners
Jalen Hurts is our Preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. But, once again, that’s more of a decision based off of the offense he’s playing in and the coach he’s playing for. Hurts helped Alabama win the SEC Championship Game last season, replacing the injured Tua Tagovailoa, going 7 of 9 for 82 yards and a touchdown. Can Lincoln Riley take him to the next level? Meantime, there’s Spencer Rattler, the No. 1 quarterback in the Class of 2019. He was a top 10 prospect in the entire 2019 class who picked OU over Alabama, Texas, Notre Dame and USC. And as has been pointed out recently, don’t overlook Tanner Mordecai, who redshirted last season, but was a highly-touted four-star prospect out of Waco, who chose the Sooners over Georgia, Oklahoma State and Ole Miss. OU may have the edge on overall depth in the QB room, but the Ehlinger factor at the top is what slipped Texas into the top spot.
3. Baylor Bears
There’s Charlie Brewer, who if he had been playing behind a decent offensive line the past two years, would be getting much more attention. He has good dual-threat ability, with 19 touchdowns to nine interceptions, eclipsing 300 passing yards seven times last season, and rushing for 375 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s got plenty of experience as he enters his third year in Waco, starting 16 of the past 17 games. Meantime, maybe one of the most interesting quarterbacks who has yet to get significant playing time is Gerry Bohanon. Bohanon was a huge get for Matt Rhule’s staff in the Class of 2018. He was a four-star prospect and the top player in the state of Arkansas, along with being a top 10 dual-threat QB in the country. But there’s another four-star prospect on the roster with true freshman Jared Zeno from San Antonio. The depth in the QB room is impressive for Matt Rhule and his staff.
4. Iowa State Cyclones
Brock freakin’ Purdy. Total stud. Baylor gets the edge here for the No. 3 spot because the Bears have a bit more depth and Brewer has the experience factor over Purdy. He was an Honorable Mention All-Big 12 selection last season with a 6-1 record as starter vs. conference opponents as a true freshman, tossing 16 touchdown passes to seven interceptions. Going into 2020 he may be a national household name and one of the top quarterbacks in the Big 12.
Also in Ames is Re-al Mitchell, who redshirted last season after coming in as a three-star prospect and picking ISU over Arizona, Illinois, Kansas State and South Carolina. He was a top 30 dual-threat QB in the class. Local boy Blake Clark also redshirted last season after leading his West Des Moines team to a 4A State Title in 2017. Easton Dean (is there a better name for a QB?) is a three-star prospect from Oswego, Kansas and picked Iowa State over Iowa, Kansas State and Kansas.
5. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Tech could be higher on the list because Alan Bowman is a stud, but there isn’t much depth behind him to be confident in. Bowman completed 69.4% of his passes, which was the highest for a Tech QB since Seth Doege in 2012, along with 17 touchdown passes. Tech is in very good hands for the next three seasons. It’ll also be interesting to see how Bowman handles the transition from Kliff Kingsbury’s playbook to Matt Wells’. Behind Bowman is Jett Duffey, who was far from an impressive and steady hand in games he started and played last season. Duffey is a much better runner than he is a passer. He’s a fine back up, but he’s not an elite Big 12 quarterback. Also on the roster is freshman Maverick McIvor, who was a three-star prospect and top 20 dual-threat QB in the Class of 2019, picking Texas Tech over Arizona State, Iowa, Miami, Washington State and others. Jackson Tyner is a Rice transfer who spent most of his time in a back up role.
6. TCU Horned Frogs
The old saying is when you have six quarterbacks you have none. That’s where TCU stands. However there is a lot of talent, it’s just mostly unknown. Gary Patterson has been very coy about his quarterback battle, but he has a lot of options. There is Justin Rogers, who was a very good four-star prospect who has been injured since his senior year of high school in 2017. There are questions as to whether or not his explosiveness will ever come back, since he was the No. 2 dual-threat QB in the country, but that remains to be seen. Mike Collins is the UPenn transfer who started four games last season, completing 56% of his passes, with 1,059 passing yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. Max Duggan may have the highest upside. He’s a true freshman and a four-star prospect who was the No. 3 dual-threat QB in America in the Class of 2019. And let’s not forget about Alex Delton, the Kansas State transfer, who has the most playing experience in the Big 12, but was limited as a passer during his time in Manhattan. There are lots of options, but who is going to take the reins?
7. Kansas State Wildcats
If things click for Skylar Thompson under Chris Klieman, he could be one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12 this season. But he’s yet to be a consistent starter in the league. He’s shown moments and games of brilliance. I’ll never forget his performance in 2017 against Oklahoma State. But the consistency has not always been there for him. However he’s now the starter and isn’t being jerked around by the staff like he was last season and no one seems happier about that than Thompson himself. He has good dual-threat ability with nearly 1,400 passing yards, nine touchdown passes, and 373 rushing yards, plus five rushing touchdowns. Meantime, John Holcombe has a very high ceiling as a Class of 2018 prospect who was the No. 13 dual-threat QB last year and has great size at 6’4”, 250. But he didn’t play at all last season, so he’s an unknown at this level. Chris Herron is probably next in line as a true freshman who was an ESPN Top 300 player and the No. 8 dual-threat QB in America by ESPN.
8. Oklahoma State Cowboys
It’s still unclear who is going to be this season’s starter in Stillwater, with redshirt freshman Spencer Sanders and senior Dru Brown, a Hawaii transfer, battling out for the top job. Sanders was the 2017-18 Gatorade State Player of the Year in Texas and was a top 10 dual-threat QB in the Class of 2018. But Sanders didn’t see any action last season, despite the new redshirt rule that would have allowed Sanders to play in up to four games. Brown is a former Hawaii quarterback who finished the 2017 season with 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions, but the staff obviously did not think he was ready last season since he redshirted. Brendan Costello is a three-star true freshman prospect from California with dual-threat ability.
9. West Virginia Mountaineers
There are lots of options, but they’re all unproven. Austin Kendall may have the most potential as the former four-star prospect who spent the past couple of seasons learning from Lincoln Riley and watching Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. But he hasn’t played meaningful football since high school in the Carolinas. Jack Allison played in seven games last season, starting one, and was serviceable against Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl, completing 27 of 35 passes for 277 yards. But after transferring from Miami, it’s also been four years since he’s played meaningful ball. Trey Lowe is an interesting prospect as a dual-threat player who redshirted last year as well. But there are too many questions for the entire position to have them higher than No. 9 at this point.
10. Kansas Jayhawks
There is admittedly a big drop off from the top 9 down to No. 10. Carter Stanley and Thomas MacVittie are apparently in a quarterback battle, but based on what I saw in the spring game, neither was overly impressive. We’ve seen plenty of Stanley in the Big 12, and while he is playing at KU, so he might be better than he appears at times, he has never lit things up. He’s played in 16 games and started six the past two seasons, but has never consistently held onto the starting QB job. MacVittie was at one time a big prospect as the No. 8 pro-style QB coming out of high school in the Class of 2016, but then went to Pitt, transferred to Mesa CC and is now at KU, where he came out as the No. 2 pro-style JUCO QB in this last recruiting cycle. I’d probably give MacVittie the nod since we seemingly know what Stanley is at this point, but neither options appears to be overly compelling right now.
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