Ranking the Big 12 quarterback situations entering the 2018 college football season

Dr. Saturday

With spring practice in the books and preseason camp still weeks away, we’re really in the doldrums of the college football offseason.

But it’s never too early to look ahead to next season, don’t you think? Quarterback is the most important position on the field, so let’s see how things are stacking up at the position across the country.

We’ll continue with the quarterback situations for each Big 12 team.

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Previously: ACC, Big Ten

10. Kansas – Peyton Bender, Carter Stanley

Kansas has two returning quarterbacks with pretty similar statistics. Bender, who started his college career at Washington State, threw the most passes of any KU QB in 2017. He was 148-273 for 1,609 yards with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Stanley was 101-185 passing for 1,108 yards and four touchdowns and seven picks. Their completion percentages were separated by just 0.4 percent and each averaged approximately six yards per attempt. The lack of separation and the lack of talent on the Kansas roster keeps the Jayhawks’ signal-callers at the bottom of this list.

9. Texas Tech – McLane Carter

Carter’s first start of his career came in an odd circumstance. As Tech was searching for bowl eligibility against Texas, Carter got the start over Nic Shimonek. Carter was 16-37 for 237 yards and two interceptions before making way for Shimonek, who was 4-8 for 96 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns. With Shimonek gone, Carter has the starting job all to himself. Tech always has a productive quarterback, but there could be a few learning moments for Carter.

8. Kansas State – Alex Delton, Skylar Thompson

We were all aboard the Jesse Ertz bandwagon entering 2017 and it ended up being Delton and Thompson that carried Kansas State across the finish line thanks to Ertz’s knee injury. Delton is the running threat of the two, averaging five yards a carry and scoring eight touchdowns on the ground. Thompson completed 61 percent of his passes and threw for more yards, touchdowns and averaged more yards per pass than Delton. It’s easy to envision a timeshare of sorts between the two throughout the season.

7. TCU – Shawn Robinson, Grayson Muehlstein

TCU will be starting a relative unknown at quarterback for the first time in years. Robinson served as Kenny Hill’s primary backup and threw just 27 passes in 2017 after getting a start at Texas Tech when Hill was injured. Three of them went for touchdowns. He’ll likely be competing with Muehlstein a redshirt senior who hasn’t thrown a pass in his four seasons with the team. Robinson would give TCU a strong running option at the quarterback position as well. He averaged nearly seven yards a carry on 23 attempts a season ago.

Baylor’s Charlie Brewer played well in 2017. (Jerry Larson/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP)
Baylor’s Charlie Brewer played well in 2017. (Jerry Larson/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP)

6. Baylor – Charlie Brewer

Brewer’s got the job to himself in 2018 after Zach Smith’s transfer to Tulane, for now at least. Brewer was far better than Smith anyway in 2017 and would have been the leader for the starting job. Brewer completed 68 percent of his passes, averaged 7.7 yards an attempt and threw 11 touchdowns to four interceptions. He undoubtedly has a leg up entering preseason camp, though NC State grad transfer Jalan McClendon could make things interesting once he arrives on campus. Baylor should make a jump in Matt Rhule’s second season. It may not be a jump to bowl eligibility, but there’s no way the Bears are going 1-11 for a second-straight season, right?

5. Oklahoma State – Dru Brown, Taylor Cornelius, Keondre Wudtee

Cornelius was Mason Rudolph’s backup a year ago. Wudtee played in two games as a freshman in 2017. Brown is a graduate transfer from Hawaii. Coach Mike Gundy certainly has some options. Let’s start with Brown, who has the deepest resume of the three. Brown was Hawaii’s starter in 2017 and was 254-412 passing for 2,785 yards, 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions. It’s reasonable to think he didn’t transfer to OSU without the belief he was going to start. Cornelius is entering his last season of eligibility as well and has thrown just 24 career passes. He also ran for 75 yards in 2017. Wudtee was a three-star recruit in the class of 2017.

4. Texas – Shane Buechele, Sam Ehlinger

How will the second year of Tom Herman’s tenure in Austin go? He’s got the same quarterback decision to make that he did in his first season. Both played in nine games a year ago and somehow, Ehlinger ended up as Texas’ leading rusher with 381 yards. That speaks more to the Longhorns’ inability to run the ball, but it’s still a striking statistic. Ehlinger took over as the team’s primary quarterback at the end of the season and is probably the favorite to keep the job heading into 2018 despite Buechele’s better completion percentage. No matter who wins the job, the backup will become the favorite son of fans if the starter struggles early.

Iowa State quarterback Kyle Kempt (17) got a sixth-year of eligibility to play in 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Iowa State quarterback Kyle Kempt (17) got a sixth-year of eligibility to play in 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

3. Iowa State – Kyle Kempt

We’re bullish on Kempt after his emergence in 2017. We thought he’d be a senior a year ago but was granted an extra year of eligibility in 2018 and Iowa State has to be thrilled. Kempt emerged as the team’s starter over Georgia transfer Jacob Park and was exceptionally efficient. Kempt completed 66 percent of his passes and threw for 15 touchdowns to just three interceptions. A low interception total is always ripe for an increase, so don’t expect Kempt to repeat that feat in 2018. But he should help ensure that Iowa State wasn’t a one-year wonder.

2. Oklahoma – Kyler Murray

We’re admittedly placing Murray here because of the offensive system he’s in. But there’s no reason to think he won’t be one of the most productive quarterbacks in the Big 12. We’re excited to see what Lincoln Riley draws up for Murray, who got the start against West Virginia while Baker Mayfield was briefly suspended for his actions against Kansas. All Murray did was break a big run at the beginning of the game and throw a 46-yard touchdown pass in garbage time.

Will Grier is the best returning quarterback in the Big 12 and perhaps the country. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson, File)
Will Grier is the best returning quarterback in the Big 12 and perhaps the country. (AP Photo/Jerry Larson, File)

1. West Virginia – Will Grier

Grier’s clearly the best returning quarterback in the Big 12 and may be the best returning quarterback in college football. West Virginia missed him dearly in 2017 after he suffered a gnarly broken finger while diving for a touchdown against Texas. The Mountaineers were 7-3 entering that Texas game and finished the season 7-6.

Grier completed nearly 65 percent of his passes in 2017, a rate more remarkable when you consider he averaged nine yards an attempt. He was also eighth in the country in passing touchdowns with 34. West Virginia should have one of the most explosive offenses in the country with Grier at quarterback. A 10-win season may not be probable, but it’s possible.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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