Ranking the Big 12's signal-callers for 2019
The Big 12 Conference has seen its share of talented quarterbacks in recent years, and the 2019 season features a couple of All-America candidates in Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts and Texas' Sam Ehlinger. The Sooners have produced back-to-back Heisman winners at the quarterback position, but Ehlinger gets a slight edge as Athlon's No. 1 quarterback in the conference. Iowa State's Brock Purdy, Texas Tech's Alan Bowman and Baylor's Charlie Brewer are three rising stars to watch in 2019.
Ranking the quarterbacks by conference or nationally is no easy task. To help compile the rankings, there was some projection involved for 2019. This was not a ranking of quarterbacks only based on accomplishments so far or pro potential. All factors - pure talent, supporting cast, having a clear hold on the No. 1 position, previous production, 2019 projection and scheme changes (just to name a few) - were considered and projected to rank the quarterbacks in the Big 12 for 2019.
Ranking the Big 12's Quarterbacks for 2019
10. Thomas MacVittie, Kansas
Kansas is the second stop at a Power 5 school in MacVittie’s career. The Ohio native started his career at Pitt but only played in three games on special teams as a redshirt freshman in 2017. He transferred to Mesa Community College for the 2018 campaign and passed for 1,064 yards and 16 touchdowns. MacVittie ranked as the No. 3 JUCO quarterback by the 247Sports Composite in the 2019 signing class and is the frontrunner to start for the Jayhawks this fall.
9. Alex Delton, TCU
Injuries forced TCU to start three quarterbacks in 2018, and coach Gary Patterson’s team enters the summer without a clear-cut starter. Delton – a graduate transfer from Kansas State – arrived in Fort Worth this spring after spending four years with the Wildcats. During his stint in Manhattan, Delton threw for 171 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 868 yards and 11 scores over 20 appearances. Ohio State transfer Matthew Baldwin joined the mix this spring but needs a waiver to play in 2019. If healthy, redshirt freshman Justin Rogers could be the right answer under center. Delton, Baldwin and Rogers will also face competition from incoming freshman Max Duggan and junior Max Collins.
8. Austin Kendall, West Virginia
Will Grier’s departure leaves a significant void under center for new coach Neal Brown. However, the Mountaineers did receive some good news at this position prior to spring practice. Kendall decided to transfer from Oklahoma and landed in Morgantown with an opportunity to start in 2019. The North Carolina native ranked as a four-star prospect in the 2016 signing class and played in eight contests during his career with the Sooners. In Kendall’s limited snaps, he completed 28 of 39 throws for 265 yards and three touchdowns. Miami transfer Jack Allison started the Camping World Bowl against Syracuse last season and is also in the mix for the starting nod.
7. Skylar Thompson, Kansas State
New coach Chris Klieman’s offense should be a good fit with Thompson’s skill set. And with the Wildcats dealing with the departure of running back Alex Barnes to the NFL, Klieman and coordinator Courtney Messingham certainly need a big season out of the junior. The Missouri native played in 11 contests in 2018, completing 58.7 percent of his throws for 1,391 yards and nine touchdowns to four picks. Thompson also added 373 yards and five scores on the ground last fall. The junior has made 14 starts over the last two seasons and has accumulated 2,080 passing yards in that span.
6. Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State
Quarterback play is usually a strength in Stillwater, so even though Taylor Cornelius is gone after tossing 3,978 yards and 32 touchdowns, it’s hard to envision Oklahoma State’s offense slipping too far on the stat sheet. Sanders is competing with freshman Brendan Costello and Hawaii transfer Dru Brown for the starting nod this offseason. The Texas native ranked as a four-star prospect in the 2018 signing class and used a redshirt year last fall. Sanders threw for 8,747 yards in his high school career but also rushed for over 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons (2016-17).
5. Alan Bowman, Texas Tech
The quarterback position is usually one that causes a lot of angst for any new coaching staff, but that’s not the case for Matt Wells. The former Utah State coach arrives in Lubbock with Bowman - one of the Big 12’s rising stars - entrenched as the team's starter. Injuries limited the Texas native to just eight games in his freshman campaign, but he still finished the year with 2,638 yards and 17 touchdowns to seven picks. Bowman torched Houston for 605 yards and five touchdowns in a 63-49 win for Texas Tech and passed for 408 against Iowa State. Due to only playing in eight contests, Bowman did not qualify for the Big 12 statistical leaders. However, his 69.4 completion percentage was higher than Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray (69.0) and Will Grier (67.0).
4. Charlie Brewer, Baylor
Brewer showed plenty of promise as a freshman, as he paced the Bears’ offense with 1,562 yards and 11 passing touchdowns in 2017. As expected, Brewer was better as a sophomore last season and should be primed for a push for All-Big 12 honors in 2019. The Texas native started 12 contests and connected on 61.5 percent of his throws for 3,019 yards and 19 touchdowns. Brewer tossed only nine picks over 390 attempts and ended the year with back-to-back 300-yard efforts versus Texas Tech and Vanderbilt. The Brewer-to-Denzel Mims connection should be a potent one for coach Matt Rhule in 2019.
3. Brock Purdy, Iowa State
After a breakout performance against Oklahoma State (318 yards and 4 TDs), Purdy assumed the starting job and never relinquished it the rest of the way. The Arizona native went 6-2 over his eight starts and finished the 2018 season with 2,250 yards and 16 touchdowns. Purdy tossed only seven picks over 220 attempts and added 308 yards and five scores on the ground. Additionally, his 66.4 completion percentage ranked third among qualified quarterbacks in the Big 12 last fall. Purdy won’t have No. 1 receiver Hakeem Butler to throw to in 2019, but he’s primed to take another step forward in his development.
2. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
With Tua Tagovailoa entrenched as the starter in Tuscaloosa, Hurts decided to transfer for his final year of eligibility. The Texas native landed in a perfect situation, as he will inherit the controls of Oklahoma’s high-powered attack – an offense that has produced back-to-back Heisman winners. Hurts played in 42 games at Alabama and completed 445 of 707 passes for 5,626 yards and 48 scores to just 12 picks. He also added 1,976 yards and 23 touchdowns on the ground. Hurts’ mobility and penchant for making plays with his legs is no secret. However, he also showed marked improvement as a passer from 2017 to ’18. Under the tutelage of coordinator Dan Enos, Hurts connected on 73 percent of his throws (up from 60 in 2017) and looked more comfortable with his reads and overall comfort level within the pocket. With an offseason to work under Lincoln Riley, look for Hurts to only get better in that department, combining with his rushing ability to have a huge senior year in Norman.
1. Sam Ehlinger, Texas
The Longhorns return only seven starters from last year’s 10-win team, so coach Tom Herman and his staff have some retooling to do on both sides of the ball. However, having an All-Big 12 quarterback like Ehlinger certainly eases a lot of concerns. As a freshman in 2017, Ehlinger made six starts (and nine overall appearances), completing 158 passes for 1,915 yards and 11 touchdowns to seven picks. He also added 385 yards and two scores on the ground that year. Ehlinger continued his development into one of the top quarterbacks in the nation last fall. He started all 14 games for the Longhorns, recording 482 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground and passing for 3,292 yards and 25 scores. Ehlinger has tossed just 12 picks over 700 career attempts. His 41 overall touchdowns in 2018 ranked as the second-most in a single season in school history. If Ehlinger stays healthy, Texas will once again make a run at the Big 12 title.