The Big 12 historically produces the nation’s most explosive offensives. And it’s the field generals of these offenses that lead their teams near the top of the polls.
Quarterbacks like Vince Young, Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy among others had record-breaking careers at their Big 12 schools.
This year’s crop of Big 12 quarterbacks are a hodgepodge of some of the best, experienced gunslingers in the country and young mobile signal-callers getting their first crack at starting jobs.
Kansas is a team with some serious quarterback issues.
Jordan Webb certainly had his ups and downs in his redshirt freshman season as a Jayhawk. He started in a little more than half the games for Kansas tossing for 1,195 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.
The team had a miserable 3-9 season and it was largely due to an ineffective offense. Webb will likely get the nod over the slower, less talented Quinn Meachem, but the team doesn’t have much to work with.
With a year under his belt, there’s a chance that Webb will improve next fall. But he’s still at the bottom of the conference and Webb will need to make some very big strides to make his Jayhawk team relevant in 2011.
Kansas St. has struggled to find great quarterback play since the Josh Freeman days. Their quarterback for 2011 will another big junior, 6’5'' 233-pound Collin Klein.
Klein saw time at the end of last season as the team reverted to a two-quarterback system. This is deceiving because Klein was used almost exclusively has an option and running option.
He’s a converted receiver, so he moves very well for a player of his size (six rushing touchdowns in 2010). He may prove to be suspect as a passer, but Kansas St. welcomes former high school player of the year, running back Bryce Brown, into the fold in 2011.
Klein’s ability to pass will make or break the team’s offense.
Jerome Tiller takes over for the long tenured Austen Arnaud in Ames, Iowa.
Tiller has played fairly well in spot duty the last two seasons winning a 2009 start against Nebraska. Tiller is a little inaccurate and Iowa St. lacks major firepower on the offensive side of the ball.
Tiller’s job is not entirely safe either as junior college transfer Steele Jantz was the talk of spring camp. My guess is that he will start the season opener and the Cyclones take a wait-and-see approach.
The Cyclones surprised a lot of people last season with some upset wins so maybe Jerome Tiller can follow suit in 2011.
It’s been a rough experience for Seth Doege at Texas Tech. The redshirt junior has battled through major knee injuries and depth at the quarterback position to try to get his way onto the field for the Red Raiders.
He only attempted four passes in 2010, so this is his first real shot at the starting job. He is injury prone and inexperienced (one career start), but the team brings back their entire offensive line and Doege will benefit from the endless opportunities to throw the football in the Red Raider offense.
He has potential, but he’s fighting three freshman recruits for the starting job.
If he can stay healthy, he will put up some big passing numbers.
What a difference a year makes. Garrett Gilbert, a former 5-star recruit, went from stepping in well for Colt McCoy in the 2010 national championship game to being booed out of his own stadium in his sophomore campaign.
Gilbert may be the most talented quarterback in the conference, but too many turnovers and an inability to grasp the offense plagued Gilbert’s season. Now he has to win back his job from the upstart Case McCoy.
Texas was historically bad in 2010 for Texas standards. Despite Gilbert’s obvious talent, he doesn’t have the offensive playmakers around him like his conference counterparts do.
If Texas can rebound in 2011 behind their talented quarterback, Gilbert will rise quickly up the Big 12 rankings.
It may be premature to put sophomore James Franklin ahead of Garrett Gilbert in the rankings, but he is in a much better position to succeed than the aforementioned Gilbert.
The 4-star recruit out of Texas saw playing time during Mizzou’s 10-3 season. He scored a rushing touchdown in the team’s signature victory over then No. 1 Oklahoma. Franklin is a big-bodied (6’2'', 230 pounds), very mobile quarterback with good touch on his passes.
Mizzou welcomes back every offensive starter outside of him in 2011. He is surrounded by excellent experience, All-Conference and All-American players like T.J. Moe and Michael Egnew catching passes and a dual-threat style of play.
He’s an unknown commodity right now, but before 2011 is over, the Big 12 will know who James Franklin is.
Baylor is a program on the rise, fueled by the recent success of the past few seasons. This is largely thanks junior quarterback Robert Griffin III and his jaw-dropping highlights.
He missed his 2009 season to an ACL tear, making his career totals of 6,073 passing yards, 1,155 rushing yards and 64 total touchdowns in two and a quarter seasons all the more impressive. Griffin is the glue holding the Baylor Bears together.
He had an All-Conference season for the 7-6 Bears and willed his team to victory in many of the team’s wins. He’s without a doubt one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the country.
If it weren’t for his team’s Swiss cheese-like defense, Baylor would be near the top of the conference with Griffin leading the charge.
Who would’ve thought that Ryan Tannehill would be on a quarterback ranking list in 2011?
Following Jerrod Johnson’s monumental collapse last season, Tannehill’s switch from receiver to quarterback saved the Aggies season as the team rattled off six wins to close the regular season and earned a bid to the Cotton Bowl.
He completed 65 percent of his passes and, more importantly, won games in clutch situations. He’s got a lot to work with in the receiving corps with guys like Jeff Fuller and Cyrus Gray catching passes.
Tannehill is a solid season away from being a potential high round NFL draft pick. Everybody is pegging A&M as a dark horse to make a Big 12 title run in 2011, and with Tannehill at the helm, they have a proven winner and clutch performer.
Brandon Weeden may be the oldest player in college football (28 years old in October), but you can also put him up there as one of the best.
Weeden exploded onto the scene in 2010, amassing 4,277 yards passing and 34 touchdowns. The Cowboys lost the Bedlam shootout to Oklahoma in 2010 and finished a game shy of playing for the Big 12 championship.
Weeden is an efficient and prolific passer leading one of the nation’s most talented offenses. He hit it off with Justin Blackmon last season and the pair reunite in 2011 for what could be a record-breaking season for the two.
The sky is the limit for the 2011 Oklahoma St. and Brandon Weeden could be the nation’s top passer before it’s all said and done.
Oklahoma replaced Heisman Trophy winning Sam Bradford with a player who could win one of his own in 2011, Landry Jones.
Jones handled his first full season as the starter with ease, finishing as the nation’s No. 2 passer with 4,718 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The Sooners will likely be the favorite to win the national championship in 2011.
He runs their high-tempo spread offense to perfection and proved he can take over any football game he’s involved in. Jones was three yards short of Sam Bradford's school passing record and he's only getting better.
He's the best quarterback in the Big 12 and could end up being the best quarterback in college football from a statistical standpoint.