The start of fall camps is right around the corner and at several major programs the focus will be on the quarterback position as former elite recruits battle it out for the starting job. Last week, we took a look at some of the most high-profile battles and had National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell weigh in on how he sees them shaking out. This week, we took a conference by conference look at the remaining quarterback competitions. Today we conclude the series with the Big 12.
The frontrunner: Charlie Brewer
The longshots: Mike Everett, Preston Heard, Garrett McGuire, Zach Bennema
The situation: True freshman Brewer took over the starting job midway through the season last year and seems poised to be the starter again, although he’s not going to be handed the job without a fight. McClendon transferred to Baylor after graduating at N.C. State and clearly thinks there’s an opportunity to see the field after making the move. Bohanan is a true freshman with a very impressive skillset and will hope to repeat what Brewer did in earning playing time as a true freshman last year. While Brewer is expected to be pushed during camp, it would be a surprise if he isn’t under center to start the season.
Farrell’s take: Brewer has shown great maturity and he has the trust of the coaching staff so I look for him to be the guy. McClendon provides depth and Bohanan could be the future as the staff seems very excited about him, but Brewer is the man for now.
The frontrunner: Peyton Bender
The situation: While the Jayhawks return two very experienced quarterbacks in Bender and Stanley, after going 1-11 last season it’s clear the team is still looking for answers at the position. Bender won the job coming out of camp last season, but replaced midway through the year by Stanley before returning for the season finale. The battle is once again wide open and made even more intriguing by the arrival of junior college transfer Fallin, a 5-foot-10 playmaker who is also a threat on the ground. Bender remains the favorite to win the job but it will be interesting to see if Fallin is able to make enough plays to pull the upset and win the job over the more experiences duo.
Farrell’s Take: Bender and Stanley both have experience but Bender won the job last year and came back from injury and I expect him to be the starter. The question is, can either of them hold off some of the JUCO talent?
The frontrunner: Skylar Thompson
The contender: Alex Delton
The longshots: Ryan Henington, Hunter Hall, Nick Ast, Samuel Wheeler
The situation: Never one to tip his hand, K-State head coach Bill Snyder said this week that the battle for the starting job in Manhattan is still very much a competition and that it’s possible the team plays both from game one. While that might seem unlikely at other places, the two contenders for the job have very different skillsets, with Thompson the more accomplished passer and Delton an elite athlete at the position. Both saw time last season, with Thompson getting the starting nod down the stretch run of the season. Will he pick up where he left off and take control of the job in camp, or will Delton show enough improvement to be the No. 1? No matter what the choice one thing is certain, Snyder will keep fans, media and opponents guessing until the opening kickoff Week 1.
Farrell’s Take: Both Thompson and Delton have a lot of talent even though they are very different quarterbacks. I like Thompson in this battle because he’s the more natural passer and can still move around and extend the play but Delton will likely see the field in some situational packages.
The frontrunner: Kyler Murray
The contender: Austin Kendall
The situation: The Sooners are in the unenviable situation of trying to replace one of the great quarterbacks in school history in former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick Baker Mayfield. Luckily for them, they have a pair of former highly-ranked prospects who actually have game experience competing for the job. Most expect Murray to win, especially since he elected to come back to school to play football rather than get a jump on his MLB career after being selected in the first round by the Oakland A’s last month. But Lincoln Riley reiterated this week that the job is still up for grabs, especially after Kendall had an impressive spring. While Murray will likely be the guy, Kendall could be his successor so Oklahoma fans will be paying close attention to how things play out next month.
Farrell’s take: Riley likes to keep everyone guessing by saying this is a wide open job but we all know Murray will be the guy. He’s just too dangerous with his feet to keep off the field.
The frontrunner: Sam Ehlinger
The contender: Shane Buechele
The situation: This will mark the second straight year that the two battle it out for the No. 1 job after splitting time a year ago. Ehlinger seems like the choice to win the job, but as evidenced by Buchele’s multiple appearances last year and his performances as a freshman in 2016, he shouldn’t be counted out either. For coach Tom Herman, it could come down to which quarterback is the most consistent and makes the least mistakes. The Longhorns also bring in two highly-touted freshmen and it’s not totally out of the question that they enter the mix with a strong fall camp.
Farrell’s Take: Ehlinger and his mobility will be the choice here in a contested battle. He brings an extra element to the field and something Herman likes – the ability to make plays with his feet. The depth at quarterback is good for Texas so the Longhorns are in a good situation.
The frontrunner: McLane Carter
The situation: The Red Raiders are having an open competition for the second straight year and are faced with a number of quarterbacks who don’t have much experience at the FBS level. Carter starts as the frontrunner considering Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury thought enough of him to start him in a game late last season. Of course, he struggled and didn’t finish, so perhaps he was thrown into the fire a little too early. Either way, he has a head start on the competitions, which includes Duffey, a former Texas Mr. Football and a true dual-threat quarterback. Bowman enrolled early and jumped right into the mix for the job, but is still a true freshman. From the outside looking in, this is one of the toughest battles to forecast in the country.
Farrell’s Take: Carter is the best guess at this point but this will be interesting because none of these quarterbacks has much experience at all. All three have the ability to extend the play and put up big numbers in the offense so whoever wins it should be productive.