Move Over Johnny Manziel; Baylor's Bryce Petty Is Coming for Your Heisman

Amy DaughtersFeatured ColumnistNovember 6, 2013

OK, seriously…who is Bryce Petty, and how in the world could he be a threat to the institution that is Johnny Football?

It’s one thing for a quarterback from Baylor (B-a-y-l-o-r) to sneak in and win the Heisman once, but twice in three years? That will never happen…right?

Well, according to Bet Vega, Petty has the fifth-best odds of anyone to win the Heisman Trophy. This puts him just two places behind last year’s winner and fellow Texan, Johnny Manziel.

The complete top five looks like this:

Current Heisman Odds
Marcus MariotaOregon-140
Jameis WinstonFlorida StateEven
Johnny ManzielTexas A&M+1000
AJ McCarronAlabama+1500
Bryce PettyBaylor+2500
Jordan LynchNorthern Illinois+2500
Braxton MillerOhio State+2500
Bet Vega

And don't look now, but Petty and his No. 6 Baylor Bears host No. 10 Oklahoma Thursday night.

If Petty is searching for that Heisman moment to leap Johnny Football and become a serious contender for college football's highest honor, the Sooners could provide that platform.

So, who is Petty, and what has he done in just seven games to make himself a viable contender for the most coveted individual award in college football?

The Story

Petty was born in Thomaston, Ga., and played high school ball at Midlothian High School in Texas, located a 30-minute drive southwest of Dallas.

A three-year starter at Midlothian, Petty earned All-District honors as a junior and a senior and was named the District 15-4A Offensive Sophomore of the Year in 2006.

Coming out of high school, Petty was earmarked as a 3-star recruit and was the No. 25-ranked pro-style quarterback in the class of 2009, according to

To see Petty in action in high school, check out the following highlight reel from his time at Midlothian.

Petty initially committed to Tennessee—along with Tajh Boyd—but was bumped by then-Volunteers coach Lane Kiffin, according to Holly Anderson of Grantland. 

Per a report by Local 8 Now of WVLT (Knoxville, Tenn.), via, Boyd eventually decommitted and landed at Clemson after “Kiffin told him his style of play didn’t fit Tennessee’s new offense.”

After opting for Baylor, Petty redshirted as a true freshman in 2010, participated in five games in 2011 and played in six games as a sophomore in 2012. His career stats coming into 2013 consisted of going 10-of-14 for 140 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions.

A high achiever as a student, Petty is a five-time member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll, and he received Academic All-Big 12 first team honors in 2012.

Petty’s first start came this season when the Bears clashed with FCS Wofford on Aug. 31. He has thrown for at least 300 yards and two touchdowns in all seven games as a starter.

Petty hung up 430 yards and three touchdowns on Kansas.
Petty hung up 430 yards and three touchdowns on Kansas.John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

At 6’3”, 230 pounds, Petty has the size to play at the next level. NFL Draft Scout ranks Petty as the No. 2 prospect among pro-style quarterbacks eligible for the 2015 NFL draft, even though he's played only seven games at the collegiate level.

Petty graduated from Baylor in May of 2013 with a degree in health science studies and is now in a graduate program.

Is He Legit in the Heisman Race?

If Petty stays on pace—and Baylor keeps winning—his Heisman odds should only improve.

Through seven games, Petty is 122-of-176 (69.3 percent) for 2,453 yards, 18 touchdowns and a single interception.

How this compares to the last five quarterbacks to win the Heisman is detailed in the table below. For the sake of comparison, Petty’s statistics are projected out to a full 13-game schedule based on his performance thus far in 2013.

Heisman Quarterback Passing Stats 2007-2012
College Football Statistics

The numbers make a clear case that if he stays on track, Petty’s numbers will be Heisman worthy.

To see Petty in action, take a look at the highlight reel from Baylor’s 71-7 win over Iowa State. Petty completed a season-high 74.2 percent of his passes in the game, threw two touchdowns and ran for a third.

Perhaps the most impressive stat Petty has posted in 2013 is that lone interception. If he can continue to keep mistakes to a minimum, he could become the most mistake-free Heisman winner in recent history.

To illustrate, Petty has thrown just one interception in 176 attempts. Comparing this to recent Heisman-winning quarterbacks: RGIII threw one interception in every 67 attempts, Bradford threw one every 60 throws, Tebow threw one in 58, Manziel threw one in 48 and Newton was at the bottom, with one pick thrown in every 40 attempts.

What’s Next?

For Petty to make it to the Heisman ceremony on Dec. 14 in New York City, Baylor will have to win at least three of its last five games and finish 10-2. Anything less than double-digit wins would likely kill Petty’s campaign, especially if the losses are ugly or come late.

A Big 12 title would also likely make Petty a top-three candidate. This is a task that will be made easier for the Bears given that the Big 12 is the only BCS conference without a championship game. This also means that Petty won’t have to risk losing to a quality opponent in an extra game—a task which fellow contenders Mariota, Winston, Miller and McCarron will all have to complete.

The last time Baylor won a conference championship was in 1994 when they were co-Southwest conference champs.
The last time Baylor won a conference championship was in 1994 when they were co-Southwest conference champs.Cooper Neill/Getty Images

That said, the final five games of Baylor’s schedule are precisely what make Petty’s Heisman chances so compelling.

The Bears' 2013 slate was front-loaded with easier opponents (FCS Wofford, Buffalo, Louisiana-Monroe, West Virginia, Kansas State, Iowa State and Kansas) and backloaded with difficult games. Baylor will finish its season with games versus Oklahoma, against Texas Tech in Arlington, at Oklahoma State, at TCU and then at home against Texas.

Yes sir, it’s time to find out how “for real” both Petty and the Bears are.

The other angle to consider is the quality of defensive opposition against which Baylor’s prolific offense (ranked No. 1 in the FBS) has squared off.

To illustrate, take a look at the FBS ranking in total defense for each team that Baylor has faced and then compare these numbers to the rankings of those teams it has left to play.

Total Defense Ranking (FBS) of Baylor's 2013 Opponents
West Virginia102
Kansas State30
Iowa State115
Texas Tech61
Oklahoma State44
College Football Statistics

Other than K-State, the Bears have earned their big-time stats against teams that combined for a No. 89 average rank in total defense. Baylor's five remaing opponents have an average rank of No. 40 in total defense.

So, the test for both the Bears as a team and Petty as a rising individual star is clear. Both must build on the early success that came against softer competition and prove themselves as “the real deal” against stiffer opposition.

To put a finer point on it, through seven games, Baylor has faced zero ranked opponents; to close out the season, it will clash with at least three. And these will come consecutively over the next three weeks.

Oct 19, 2013; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Bryce Petty (14) warms up before the game against the Iowa State Cyclones at Floyd Casey Stadium. The Bears defeated the Cyclones 71-7. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

And No. 12 Oklahoma is next up.

Could he be the next former 3-star recruit from the state of Texas to come out of nowhere and win the Heisman?

Biographical information courtesy of Baylor, statistics courtesy of ESPN and College Football Statistics. Recruiting data courtesy of Rivals.


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