Now that National Signing Day is behind us, and the transfer portal seems to have died down (although it doesn’t have a deadline like the signing day), there should be some familiar faces, and new ones, when the Big 12 Conference kicks off in 2022.
While the conference has been known for elite quarterback play in the past, the 2021 season proved to be the year of the defense. Will that be the case in 2022, or will the favor swing back to the signal callers?
Here are our predictions for who will start at each school when the 2022 football season starts next fall.
Oklahoma State – Spencer Sanders
Redshirt senior Spencer Sanders returns with accolades on his shoulders—coaches’ All-Big 12 first team, and MVP of last two bowl games the Cowboys have played. Sander has completed 62 percent of his passes in his three-year career for 6,283 yards with a TD/INT ratio of 46/27. He also had rushed for 1,407 yards and 10 TDs for the Pokes. OSU trailed Notre Dame 28-7 in the second quarter of this year’s Fiesta Bowl. Sanders orchestrated a comeback in the last 30.5 minutes to beat the Fighting Irish 37-35. He finished the game by completing 34 of 51 for 371 yards and 4 TDs. Sanders also picked up 125 yards on 17 carries in the game. OSU opens the season on Sept. 3 at home against Central Michigan.
Baylor – Gerry Bohanon
Gerry Bohanon, a junior this year, started the first 11 games last year for the Bears before being sidelined with a hamstring injury. He completed 64% of his passes for 2,165 yards with 17 TDs and 6 INTs. Blake Shapen, a redshirt sophomore this season, started the last two games for the Bears and turned in an MVP performance to lead Baylor to a victory over Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship Game. Shapen completed his first 17 passes with 3 touchdowns in the CCG. He finished the game with 23 of 28 for 180 yards and the 3 TDs.
Shapen suffered a shoulder injury in the CCG and did not play in the Sugar Bowl. Bohanon returned to the bowl game but was limited to 17 passes, completing 7 for 40 yards and a pick. Nevertheless, the Bears won 21-7 with a solid defensive performance.
Bohanon will be the starter when the Bears kickoff against Louisiana Tech on Sept. 3, but having Shapen come off the bench is a good thing for BU to defend its Big 12 title.
TCU – Max Duggan
Coach Sonny Dykes begins his first season to lead the Horned Frogs, and he must feel good that he’s got an experienced incumbent behind center for his initial campaign, which begins at Colorado on Sept. 2.
However, Dykes has said he’s going to have an open quarterback competition this offseason. Senior Max Duggan has completed 56% of his passes for 3,872 yards with a TD/INT ratio of 25/14 in his first 22 career starts for the Frogs. Last year, he improved by completing 64% for 2,048 yards and a 16/6 ratio in 10 starts. Meantime, Oklahoma transfer Chandler Morris had a great performance to lead TCU to an upset over Baylor late in the season as he threw for 461 yards and 2 touchdowns and ran for 70 yards and another score against the Bears. One week later, Morris struggled in a loss to Oklahoma State. He completed 11 of 20 for 125 yards with no touchdowns, and the Cowboys sacked him 5 times.
Morris may push Duggan, but we will see the experienced signal caller win out, at least at the start of the season.
Transfers Who Should Start
Oklahoma – Dillon Gabriel
The Sooners lost a pair of 5-star quarterbacks to the transfer portal. Both went to USC—Spencer Rattler to South Carolina and Caleb Williams to Southern California. In comes Dillon Gabriel from Central Florida through the portal. Gabriel will be reunited with Jeff Lebby, his quarterback coach at UCF, in Norman. Lebby was tabbed as OU’s offensive coordinator by new head coach Brent Venables.
Gabriel threw for 8,041 yards, 70 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions in 26 games for UCF. He suffered a broken collarbone in the final moments of the Knights’ third game of 2021 but is appears healthy for the 2022 season. Gabriel should have two years of eligibility remaining along with an NCAA-granted extra year of eligibility if he chooses to hang around Norman.
When Gabriel and Lebby were together for their lone season at UCF, the former threw for 3,653 yards and 29 TDs to 7 INTs. The Sooners open their 2022 campaign at home against Texas El Paso on Sept. 3.
Texas – Quinn Ewers
Casey Thompson took his act to Nebraska, so Quinn Ewers slides to Austin from Columbus, Ohio, where he redshirted at Ohio State last year. Ewers was the No. 1 national quarterback recruit out of Carroll High School in Southlake, Texas, in 2021. He completed 70% passing for 6,445 yards at Carroll High with 73 TDs and 8 INTs and rushed for 701 yards and 12 touchdowns in 22 career games.
Hudson Card, a redshirt sophomore this year, got the starting spot to begin the 2021 season, but he lost the job to Thompson after the first two games. Card had a good game throwing for 224 yards and a pair of scores against Louisiana but completed only 8 of 15 for 61 yards in a blowout loss to Arkansas.
Ewers gets the nod when the Longhorns host Louisiana Tech on Sept. 3.
Kansas State – Adrian Martinez
Adrian Martinez, a super senior this season, transferred from an old Big 12 rival—Nebraska. Not a prolific passer, he completed 64% of his passes in 39 career games for the Cornhuskers for 8,491 yards with 45 TDs and 30 INTs. Martinez has rushed for 2,301 yards and 35 touchdowns in that span.
A shoulder injury sidelined him for the final game of 2021.
Junior Will Howard, who was back up to Skylar Thompson the last two years, could challenge for the starting slot. He had played in 15 games and started in 10 of them when Thompson went down with an injury each of the last two seasons. Howard also has failed to take care of the pigskin tossing 11 interceptions in two seasons. He has completed 54% for 1,510 yards in 9 TDs.
Adryan Lara, a 3-star prospect from Goodyear, Ariz., signed with the Wildcats in February.
Martinez’s running capability will get him the starting job when KSU opens the 2022 season by hosting South Dakota on Sept. 3.
Texas Tech – Tyler Shough
Sophomore Donovan Smith and senior Tyler Shough will battle it out in coach Joey McGuire’s first year. Henry Colombi, who started in six games last year, was injured against Oklahoma in the 10th game of 2021. He has transferred to Marshall for 2022.
Shough got the starting role to open the 2021 season, and after four starts, he broke his collarbone against Texas. Colombi took over until he got injured, and then Smith took over under center in the final four games of the year.
Shough, who transferred to Lubbock from Oregon, completed 70% of his passes for 872 yards with a TD/INT ratio of 6/3. Smith completed 61% for 1,181 yards with a 7/2 ratio. He earned the MVP honor in a 34-7 win over Mississippi State in the Liberty Bowl. He threw for 252 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score in the game.
Jacob Rodriguez transferred to the Red Raiders after sitting on the bench for his freshman year at Virginia. The 3-star, pro-style QB might have to wait in the wings behind Shough and Smith.
Offensive coordinator Zach Kittley leads more toward the passing game, and Shough is more comfortable throwing the ball while Smith is more adept at running the pigskin. That said, Shough gets the position when Tech hosts Murray State on Sept. 3.
Kansas – Jalon Daniels
Redshirt senior Jason Bean and junior Jalon Daniels have starting experience, but Daniels got the starting nod the last three games last year. Bean started the first none game of 2021, and after a narrow victory over South Dakota, the Jayhawks lost their next seven games by an average of 28.6 points. With Daniels at the helm, KU stunned Texas in Austin by one point. Although the Hawks lost their last two games, it was by a combined 9 points. Daniels had the better passing efficiency (145.6 to 118.1). Kansas signed Ethan Vasko, a 2-star pro-style signal-caller from Chesapeake, Va. Daniels should be the starter when the Jayhawks host Tennessee Tech on Sept. 2.
Iowa State – Hunter Dekkers
Brock Purdy’s graduation leaves an open contest in Ames. Redshirt sophomore Hunter Dekkers played in four games last year, completing 56% of his passes for 193 yards, including 2 TDs and 1 INT. Dekkers, a 4-star dual threat from Hawarden, Iowa, led set the Iowa high school passing record with 10,628 yards and 126 TDs with only 22 INTs. He also led his high school, West Sioux, to two-state championships.
The Cyclones signed Rocco Becht, a 3-star pro-style QB from Wesley Chapel, Fla. Becht was named the Quarterback MVP at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge, which hosted some of the country’s best high school football players in the 2022 recruiting class last Summer. Other competition could come from Aidan Bouman (2020 signee), redshirt senior Blake Clark, Ashton Cook, and junior Nate Glantz.
Bouman was redshirted in 2020 and was a member of the practice squad in ’21. Clark has been a member of special teams for the last three years as the holder for FGs and PATs. Cook was an unranked signee who redshirted last year. Glantz was the 2020 national Offensive Player of the Year as a JUCO QB for Iowa Western.
Dekkers should get the nod when ISU hosts Southeast Missouri on Sept. 3.
West Virginia – Garrett Greene
The Mountaineers open the 2022 campaign against old rival Pittsburgh on the road Sept., so it’s vital for WVU coach Neal Brown to make the right choice for his starting QB. Jarrett Doege, who started the last 26 games for the ‘Eers, has transferred to Western Kentucky.
The contest for 2022 will be among redshirt freshman Will Crowder, redshirt sophomore Garrett Greene, and incoming freshman Nicco Marchiol. Crowder did not step onto the field last year. Greene saw some duty as Doege’s backup last year, completing 16 of 26 for 147 yards with no TDs nor INTs. A dual-threat signal-caller, Greene played in 11 games in 2021, picking up 306 rushing yards on 47 carries and 4 touchdowns. Marchiol is a 4-star, pro-style QB from Chandler, Ariz., and was named Arizona Player of the Year by several entities.
The nod here will go to Greene.