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Big 12 Football: Early 2022 QB Preview and Rankings

Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State Football

College football's 2022 season is still months away, but spring practice is just around the corner. With the bulk of the transfer movement and National Signing Day in the books, most of the 131 programs at the FBS level have a good idea of how their roster is going to look this season. The quarterback position is always under the spotlight, but the transfer portal has added another avenue for teams to quickly improve a struggling signal-caller or find the right option.

The Big 12 is usually home to some of college football's best QB play, but the league had an up-and-down season under center last fall. The outlook for '22 is intriguing, especially if transfers Dillon Gabriel (Oklahoma), Quinn Ewers (Texas) and Adrian Martinez (Kansas State) deliver at their new schools. Also, promising youngsters in Donovan Smith (Texas Tech) and Jalon Daniels (Kansas) round out a solid bottom tier in the league.

With spring practice quickly approaching, Athlon Sports will examine the quarterback situations for the Power 5 conferences and how the outlook has changed from '21. Here's a look at the Big 12 for '22:

Big 12 Football: Early 2022 QB Preview and Rankings

Baylor

Projected 2022 Starter: Gerry Bohanon
Bohanon was steady in his first year as the full-time starter. He connected on 62.7 percent of his throws for 2,194 yards and 18 touchdowns to seven picks and ranked third on the team with 323 rushing yards. Bohanon’s nine rushing scores were second on the team to running back Abram Smith. The bulk of Bohanon’s completions (113 of 173) came from behind the line of scrimmage to nine yards downfield. However, seven of his touchdown connections came from 20-plus yards.
Key Spring Storylines: Can Bohanon take the next step in his development? Is backup Blake Shapen capable of making a push for the No. 1 spot?

Iowa State

Projected 2022 Starter: Hunter Dekkers
Dekkers has big shoes to fill this spring with Brock Purdy off to the NFL. The Iowa native ranked as a four-star prospect in the ’20 signing class and played in seven games over the last two years. Dekkers has rushed for 73 yards and two scores and connected on 25 of 43 throws for 311 yards and three touchdowns in those limited snaps.
Key Spring Storylines: Can anyone challenge Dekkers? Redshirt freshman Aidan Bouman and true freshman Rocco Becht appear to be the most likely candidates.

Kansas

Projected 2022 Starter: Jalon Daniels
Daniels closed the season on a high note, throwing for three touchdowns and 202 yards in an upset win over Texas, tossing two more scores in a near-upset of TCU, and passing for 249 yards in a six-point defeat to West Virginia. Inconsistent quarterback play has plagued the Jayhawks in recent years. Daniels might be the answer.
Key Spring Storylines: Is Daniels ready to make a big leap? If not, Jason Bean should get the call again under center.

Kansas State

Projected 2022 Starter: Adrian Martinez
After a prolific, but up-and-down career at Nebraska, Martinez is getting a fresh start in Manhattan for his final season of eligibility. The California native ran for 2,301 yards and 35 scores and threw for 1,055 yards and 45 touchdowns (to 30 picks) in his career with the Cornhuskers.
Key Spring Storylines: Martinez’s acclimation to the offense is key, but K-State also needs to continue developing backups Jake Rubley, Jaren Lewis and Will Howard.

Oklahoma

Projected 2022 Starter: Dillon Gabriel
The transfers of Spencer Rattler (South Carolina) and Caleb Williams (USC) depleted Oklahoma’s quarterback room. However, the news isn’t all bad here for the Sooners. Although Williams will be missed, Gabriel arriving as a transfer from UCF softens concerns about this position. Also, Gabriel worked under offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby at UCF in ‘19, so the transition in scheme should be minimal.
Key Spring Storylines: There’s a lot of new around Gabriel this offseason, so spring practice is all about acclimation and getting everyone comfortable in the new scheme. Developing depth behind Gabriel is a must.

Oklahoma State

Projected 2022 Starter: Spencer Sanders
Sanders finished the ’21 season with arguably the best performance in his Oklahoma State career, accounting for 496 yards (7.3 per play) and four scores in the Fiesta Bowl victory over Notre Dame. Sanders’ passing yards (2,839) and touchdowns (20) from last year were tops for a single season in his career. Cutting down on interceptions (31) is a must.
Key Spring Storylines: With Oklahoma State’s losses on defense, Sanders and the offense may have to carry this team more in ’22. Depth behind him is a concern after Shane Illingworth transferred to Nevada.

TCU

Projected 2022 Starter: Max Duggan
New coach Sonny Dykes inherits two capable options in Duggan and Chandler Morris. Injuries hindered Duggan’s ’21 season, but he still threw for 2,048 yards and 16 touchdowns and added 352 yards and three scores on the ground. Also, his 8.9 yards per attempt mark in Big 12-only games ranked second among conference signal-callers. Morris threw for 461 yards and two scores in TCU’s upset of Baylor last November.
Key Spring Storylines: Is there any clarity to the QB battle this spring?

Texas

Projected 2022 Starter: Quinn Ewers
If Ewers is as good as his high school tape shows, it would go a long ways towards helping coach Steve Sarkisian to get Texas back on track. Ewers departed high school a year early to play at Ohio State but opted to transfer back to his home state in December. The touted freshman will have to hold off Hudson Card and ’22 recruit Maalik Murphy.
Key Spring Storylines: Does Ewers take a clear hold on the starting job?

Texas Tech

Projected 2022 Starter: Donovan Smith
Intrigue surrounds Texas Tech’s quarterback room and offense going into ’22. New play-caller Zach Kittley produced high-powered offenses at FCS Houston Baptist and WKU recently, and his arrival in Lubbock is good news for a unit that averaged 26.7 points in Big 12 games last year. Smith shined in his first opportunity for snaps for the Red Raiders, throwing for 1,188 yards and seven touchdowns and rushing for 155 yards and three scores. Smith’s close to the ’21 season should put him at the top of the list to start, but redshirt freshman Behren Morton and former Oregon transfer Tyler Shough are also in the mix.
Key Spring Storylines: Can Smith build off his solid finish to last season? Or will a healthy Shough unseat him for the job? Will Morton factor prominently into the mix?

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West Virginia

Projected 2022 Starter: Nicco Marchiol
Jarret Doege’s transfer to WKU leaves a wide-open competition in Morgantown. True freshman Nicco Marchiol (No. 19 overall QB by the 247Sports Composite) might be the favorite to take the first snap. Garrett Greene has played in 13 games the last two seasons but is a better runner (337 yards) than passer (5.7 YPA) in a limited sample size. Redshirt freshman Will Crowder is also in the mix.
Key Spring Storylines: Will West Virginia pursue a transfer? Marchiol enrolled in time for spring practice, so the talented freshman has a chance to make a quick impression.

Pre-Spring, Way-too-Early Big 12 QB Rankings for 2022

1. Dillon Gabriel, Oklahoma
Sooners need to rebuild up front, but Gabriel’s familiarity in the offense should show right away.

2. Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State
Can Sanders pick up where he left off in the Fiesta Bowl?

3. Quinn Ewers, Texas
The talent is there to be No. 1 by the end of ’22.

4. Gerry Bohanon, Baylor
Baylor needs to reload at receiver, but the offensive line returns intact, and Bohanon will benefit from another offseason under coordinator Jeff Grimes.

5. Adrian Martinez, Kansas State
The combination of Martinez and running back Deuce Vaughn is going to be a nightmare for Big 12 defenses.

6. Max Duggan, TCU
If Duggan can stay healthy and hold off Chandler Morris for the starting nod, there’s a good chance he finishes ’22 much higher on this list.

7. Donovan Smith, Texas Tech
If Smith wins the job, he’s going to post monster numbers under new coordinator Zach Kittley.

8. Jalon Daniels, Kansas
Daniels’ promising finish to the 2021 season could mean coach Lance Leipold has found his QB.

9. Hunter Dekkers, Iowa State
Losing running back Breece Hall and tight end Charlie Kolar to the NFL won’t make Dekkers’ transition into the starting lineup any easier.

10. Nicco Marchiol, West Virginia
Promising freshman, but will the Mountaineers explore a transfer?

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