2010 Big 12 Preview: Ranking the Quarterbacks
Remember a couple of years ago, when it seemed like every high-profile quarterback in the country resided in the Big 12?
Gunslingers like Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford, Graham Harrell, Chase Daniel, Zac Robinson, and Todd Reesing helped transform the conference into the ultimate hotbed for quarterbacks and spread passing schemes.
Now, with the vacancy of the aforementioned stars come opportunities for young signal callers to show what they can do in the pocket. The Big 12 might not be as deep at quarterback as it has been in the past two or three years, but talent is sure to find its way to the attention of fans and spectators.
With that being said, here's a ranking of the predicted starting Big 12 quarterbacks for the 2010 season.
12. Carson Coffman, Kansas State
Weight: 212 lbs.
2009 Stats: 863 yards, 2 touchdowns, 4 int., 60% comp.; 64 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns
Coffman returns under center for the Wildcats after a disappointing season in which he was benched in favor of fifth-year senior Grant Gregory.
He struggled at finding the end zone early on and failed to move the ball through the air effectively. Luckily for Kansas State, star running back Daniel Thomas was somewhat able to pick up the slack.
While Coffman did impress in the spring game (440 yards and seven touchdowns), he'll need to greatly improve on his 2009 statistics and his consistency if Kansas State hopes to score against Nebraska-like defenses.
11. Kale Pick, Kansas
Weight: 200 lbs
2009 Stats: 22 passing yards, 0 touchdowns, 80% comp.; 147 rushing yards, 0 touchdowns
A new era has begun in Lawrence, where new coach Turner Gill looks to rebuild after key departures, including record-setting quarterback Todd Reesin.
Kale Pick will most likely take the reigns as signal caller, which won't be easy given the losses of wide receivers Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier.
Pick was an early commit to Arkansas before signing with the Jayhawks, and brings an intriguing dual-threat style to this Kansas offense. A third-year sophomore, he'll need to work on getting rid of the ball if the offense is going to find success.
The Jayhawks need a playmaker to step up and take control of the offense. Pick has the athleticism, but does he have the decision making ability?
Let's just hope his name's not an indication.
10. Tyler Hansen, Colorado
Weight: 205 lbs.
2009 Stats: 1440 passing yards, 8 touchdowns, 7 int., 55.8% comp.; 68 rushing yards, 1 touchdown
Hansen should be Colorado's first undisputed quarterback in three years.
After taking the job away from Cody Hawkins, the junior helped the Buffalo offense improve, even if only by a little bit. His ability to run played a huge part in that improvement, as he was constantly under pressure behind an offensive line that gave up a league-worst 44 sacks.
Unless Colorado reaches a bowl game, this will likely be Coach Dan Hawkins' last year in Boulder. However, with some stability finally in the offense, Hansen should improve by a considerable margin.
I still wouldn't count on Hawkins coming back though.
9. Zac Lee, Nebraska
Weight: 215 lbs.
2009 Stats: 2143 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, 10 int., 58.6% comp.
Inconsistent play from Lee put huge limitations on Nebraska last season, who boasted one of the best defenses in the country.
He failed to step up in big games, such as the Big 12 Championship, where he went 6-for-19, throwing for 39 yards and tossing three interceptions. He also struggled in a disappointing 9-7 loss against underdog Iowa State.
Roy Helu Jr. returns as a very capable running back, Lee has to be more consistent if the Huskers are going to win a conference championship.
Defenses do win championships, but only if the offense scores points.
8. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
Weight: 215 lbs.
2009 Stats: 248 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 int., 62.5% comp.
Oklahoma State is a mystery team heading into the 2010 season.
Mike Gundy brought in former Houston offensive coordinator and Texas Tech assistant coach Dana Holgorsen to run Mike Leach's Air Raid passing attack, so a capable signal caller is a must for the Pokes.
Brandon Weeden will likely replace Zac Robinson, and appears to have all the tools necessary to get the job done.
The 26-year-old former professional baseball player has a big-time arm, and given Holgorsen's track record, will likely emerge as a 4,000-yard-per-season quarterback.
7. Austen Arnaud, Iowa State
2009 Stats: 2,015 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, 13 int., 58.7% comp.; 561 rushing yards, 8 touchdowns
Arnaud was very good in 2008, and took a small step back in 2009.
The Ames native has tremendous athletic abilities, which should be showcased during his senior season. However, he'll have to make better decisions if Iowa state wants to stay competitive in conference play.
He'll look to cut down on interceptions this season, which should be easy enough given his progress this Spring. If he can manage the offense and become a reliable passer, this offense will take off in 2010.
The always emotional Paul Rhoades reportedly likes what he sees in Arnaud going into the fall, which should help instill confidence in his play.
6. Garrett Gilbert, Texas
2009 Stats: 310 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 4 int., 45.5% comp.
Gilbert might have the most hype of any Longhorn in the past decade.
Vince Young and Colt McCoy turned the Texas quarterback position into a type of symbolic figure. And, after the departure of McCoy, Mack Brown could have done a lot worse than to snag Garrett Gilbert.
Longhorn fans are labeling him as the the next Davey O'Brien, encouraged by his brave performance in the national championship against Alabama.
While he undoubtedly has upside, Gilbert will have adapt to some offensive changes in Mack Brown's system, as he'll be more of a pro-style quarterback than Young or McCoy.
His abilities are still unproven, but Gilbert should find his groove around the middle of the 2010 season.
5. Steven Sheffield, Texas Tech
2009 Stats: 1,219 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, 4 int., 74.3% comp.
Had it not been for a broken bone in his foot, Sheffield might have made the top of this list.
The skinny quarterback was unbelievable in his limited playing time, and has battled Taylor Potts for the starting job. Sheffield should get the nod, given his fanbase and performances against Nebraska on the road and Kansas State at home.
His ability to get out of the pocket and run around should also give him an edge, as Neal Brown's version of the Air Raid gives the quarterback more freedom than previously allowed under Mike Leach.
If, and it's a big if, Sheffield can stay healthy, he'll be among the league's best passers in 2010.
4. Robert Griffin III, Baylor
2009 Stats: 481 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 int., 65.2% comp.; 77 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns
Griffin's another player who might have been higher had it not been for injuries.
The electrifying scrambler dazzled audiences in 2008, and nearly took Baylor to their first bowl game since 1994. This season, expect Griffin to pick up right where he left off in Art Briles' spread offense.
Griffin is by far the biggest weapon for the Bears, and will have defenses on their toes with his ability to throw and run effectively.
This kid has it all. Period.
3. Landry Jones, Oklahoma
2009 Stats: 3,198 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, 14 int., 58.1% comp.
Stepping in for Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford, Jones was a pleasant surprise.
He kept the Sooner offense moving in a down-and-out year, amassing over 3,000 yards through the air as a freshman. This year, he'll try to build on that success, and will have a solid running game and the conference's best receiver in Ryan Broyles.
Jones wasn't talked about much last year, mainly because of Oklahoma's early woes and Colt McCoy, but he has Oklahoma in the talks for a national championship run, and are many people's favorite to win the Big 12.
If he can improve on his consistency, Jones will become the Big 12's most talked about quarterbacks for the next few years.
2. Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M
2009 Stats: 3,579 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, 8 int., 59.6% comp.; 506 rushing yards, 8 touchdowns
Aggie fans are raving about Johnson, claiming he's finally ready to take Texas A&M where they once were.
They have good reason, as Johnson is a 6-5 man-child with a rocket of an arm and very good speed. He has the tools to make it to the next level, but needs to make better decisions and improve on his accuracy in the upcoming season.
Johnson leads one of the most explosive offenses in the country, and has made the Aggies a dark horse contender in the Big 12 south.
Assuming nothing happens to the senior quarterback, he should have no trouble posting some terrifying numbers this fall. Both through the air and on the ground.
1. Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
2009 Stats: 3,593 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, 9 int., 58.9% comp.; 204 rushing yards, 3 touchdowns
Gabbert returns as the most complete all-around quarterback in the conference, and will look to lead the Tigers to a Big 12 championship appearance.
The sophomore had a huge task in replacing Chase Daniel, and responded better than anybody would have guessed. With a year under his belt, he'll have Missouri in the position of a legitimate contender, which should make the increasingly interesting Mizzou-Nebraska showdown fun to watch.
He showed tremendous poise as a freshman, which surprised both fans and opposing defenses around the Big 12.
With his sturdy frame, big arm, and natural skill at finding the open receiver, Gabbert will be an NFL lottery pick in no time. In 2010, he'll run Gary Pinkel's offense so well that people will begin to forget the name Chase Daniel.