As its quarterback goes, so goes a college football program. That’s the case most seasons with most teams, but maybe moreso this fall in this league.
Mike Gundy predicted that the Big 12 could return to its gun-slinging form. He knows the league as good as anyone. Regardless, the team with the most prolific play behind center will probably be the one with the best chance to punch its ticket to Arlington come season’s end.
With so much turnover in the conference at the QB, let’s take a look at some of the top storylines for Big 12 passers.
Most to Prove: Spencer Sanders (Oklahoma State)
In terms of production, success and experience, Spencer Sanders is the league’s best returning passer. Now he just needs to prove he can be one of its most consistent.
Sanders followed up a zero-touchdown, four-interception outing in the Big 12 Championship with a four-TD, zero-pick heroic comeback in the Fiesta Bowl. He’s got the goods and the heart, and he was more consistent overall last season, that title game notwithstanding. In Year 4, he gets the chance to prove the doubters wrong (or right).
The Cowboys should still be stout on defense, but the turnover at DC and at linebacker narrows that margin for error. Sanders & Co. shouldn’t plan on the defense bailing it out as often as last year. If he can take the next step, sustain drives and put up points consistently — while decreasing those pesky turnovers — OSU should be in good shape to make another run at the Big 12.
Most Upside: Quinn Ewers (Texas)
Do the Longhorns finally have a franchise QB? Time will tell, but Quinn Ewers has as much upside as any passer to come through Austin in a long time.
After transferring in from Ohio State where he sat last season, Ewers becomes the highest-rated recruit to sign with the ‘Horns since Vince Young. Both QBs carried a 1.000 Composite ranking each as the top recruit in his class. Let’s see if UT can keep from messing this up.
Top Transfer: Dillon Gabriel (Oklahoma)
The portal taketh away and the portal giveth. Gone are Spencer Rattler and Caleb Williams. In is one of the more touted QB transfers in the country in former UCF passer Dillon Gabriel.
Before going down to injury last season, Gabriel was on his way to continue the big numbers he put up in his first two years (over 7,000 yards, 61 touchdowns to just 11 picks). Add to that the fact that he’ll be reunited with Jeff Lebby, UCF’s offensive coordinator his freshman year, and there’s plenty of reason for Sooner fans to be optimistic.
Best Fit: Adrian Martinez (Kansas State)
Kansas State is famous for being able to pull an unknown dual-threat quarterback off the bench and crushing Cowboys fans’ souls. Now we’ll see what the Wildcats can do adding a known commodity with wheels.
Former Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez comes to Manhattan having rushed for over 500 yards in each of four seasons in Lincoln. If he can hit the ground running in the Little Apple, K-State should be as tough to defend at QB as ever.
Darkhorse: JT Daniels (West Virginia)
We are not talking enough about JT Daniels. He was QB1 for Georgia before injury sidelined him and there were still plenty that expected him to supplant Stetson Bennett before the latter led the Bulldogs to a National Championship.
Daniels’ transfer pushed touted true freshman Nicco Marchiol to QB2, a top 20 passer in the class, meaning the Mountaineers have one of the more talented QB rooms in the conference.
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