As part of Rivals.com Quarterback Week, we take a look at the Big 12 and rank the quarterback talent during the Rivals.com era, from 2002-present.
Jason White was establishing himself as one of the top quarterbacks in college football when the Rivals Era began. Since then, the Sooners have had to kiss plenty of frogs while searching for princes, but they also have had a pretty good quarterback in Baker Mayfield for the past few seasons that came to them as a walk-on from a previous stop at Texas Tech. The only five-star quarterback ever signed by Oklahoma was Rhett Bomar, who didn’t pan out.
Bridging the gap between White and Mayfield, however, were former four-star Landry Jones and a three-star that went on to be the first overall selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, Sam Bradford. With a banner 2010 season, Jones finished his Sooners career with more than 16,500 yards passing and nearly 125 touchdowns. Former OU quarterback Trevor Knight had some better days once he caught on with Texas A&M, and even with the recent departure of Chris Robison, former Rivals100 quarterbacks Austin Kendall and Kyler Murray are both still on the roster.
In the years leading up to 2002, Texas had solid quarterback play from Chris Simms, but it wasn’t long after that until it became the Vince Young show. Young proved to be the better of the Longhorns’ two all-time five-star quarterback signings, as Garrett Gilbert struggled through three seasons before transferring to SMU. In Texas’ 2005 championship season, Young completed 65 percent of his passes for more than 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns and finished as the Heisman runner-up.
After not hitting on guys like Connor Wood, Connor Brewer or Tyrone Swoopes, 2016 four-star signee Shane Buechele showed that he is a capable starting quarterback last season. Even after his strong freshman seasons, he is still having to prove himself better than 2017 Rivals250 signee Sam Ehlinger in camp. Otherwise, Colt McCoy’s four seasons buoy the case for Texas. Just a three-star prospect in the 2005 class, McCoy went on to complete 70 percent of his career passes for 23,253 yards and 112 touchdowns.
The case for Baylor could be a moot point after this season, as the coaching staff that had so much success getting the most out of its quarterbacks has been disbanded. What was even more impressive was the ratio of which signed quarterbacks became very productive passers at some point in their career for the better part of the last decade.
Robert Griffin III will be the name most associated with Baylor’s rise to prominence from a performance perspective. The Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback finished his four seasons at Baylor with over 10,300 yards passing, and 78 touchdowns to just 17 interceptions. In 25 games, former three-star Bryce Petty threw for nearly 8,500 yards and 61 touchdowns. Seth Russell was another three-star quarterback that threw for 49 touchdowns from 2015-16. After an efficient 2015 season, Jarrett Stidham transferred out of the program and was recently named Auburn’s starting quarterback for the upcoming season. Meanwhile, the hope is that former four-star quarterback Zach Smith can build upon the potential he showed last season.
4. KANSAS STATE
Kansas State, like Baylor, gets credit for the high percentage of guys that it hit on, rather than getting the big-name commitments every season. Josh Freeman is the most notable name to come out of the Wildcats program in the Rivals era. Even though he didn’t finish his career with record-breaking performances, he was a big, athletic player that could chuck the ball. Even though his success in the NFL was brief, he was a first-round pick and stuck around for the better part of seven seasons.
Former three-star quarterbacks Collin Klein and Jake Waters both had productive careers, with Klein even being mentioned as a possible Heisman contender at one point. In 2013-14, Waters threw for nearly 6,000 yards and had 40 touchdowns. Although his numbers weren’t necessarily pretty last season, what Jesse Ertz became for last year’s team and heading into this season as a former two-star prospect has been impressive. If 2016 four-star quarterback signee Skylar Thompson is the real deal, then that will have kept Kansas State as a sneaky-successful quarterback school for the last decade.
5. TEXAS TECH
If we’re going to give Oklahoma any credit for having Baker Mayfield, we should give Texas Tech a nod for producing him. Even though he was a walk-on at Tech before going on to find success at Oklahoma, he showed moments of brilliance as a Red Raider before eventually giving way to Davis Webb.
Webb was given a lot of attention this past season as the quarterback of the high-powered California offense after a pretty good start to his career in his freshman and sophomore seasons in Lubbock. The bigger names that helped make Tech’s offensive reputation what it is were 2004 four-star Graham Harrell, spent one year with the Green Bay Packers after completing 70 percent of his passes for close to 15,800 yards and 134 touchdowns at Tech. Harrell finished fourth in the 2008 Heisman voting. Given one more season, 2014 three-star quarterback Patrick Mahomes might have bested those numbers, but he finished his career at Tech and was drafted in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft to the Kansas City Chiefs.