Big 12 faces quarterback quandary with many new faces

MANHATTAN, KS - NOVEMBER 11: Quarterback Will Grier #7 of the West Virginia Mountaineers throws a pass against the Kansas State Wildcats during the first half on November 11, 2017 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, KS - NOVEMBER 11: Quarterback Will Grier #7 of the West Virginia Mountaineers throws a pass against the Kansas State Wildcats during the first half on November 11, 2017 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images) /

There will quite a few fresh faces in the Big 12 at quarterback this fall, she of which could well be playing on Sunday.

Last season, the Big 12 Conference was a factory for quarterbacks. Heisman Trophy-winner Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, TCU’s Kenny Hill and Texas Tech’s Nic Shimonek provided entertainment for the college football world every Saturday and are now looking to make their mark on the professional stage.

Now going into 2018, only one Big 12 team is retaining their full-time starter from last season in West Virginia’s Will Grier. The Florida transfer threw for 3,490 yards, 34 touchdowns and led the Mountaineers to an 8-4 record before falling in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Grier is the incumbent starter and undoubtedly the best quarterback in the conference.

Texas is retaining Shane Buechele and Sam Ehlinger from last season. Both split time for the majority of the year as the Longhorns went 6-6 and finished with a Texas Bowl win over Missouri. Neither could gain an edge as the two combined for only 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. It remains to be seen if head coach Tom Herman will have both signal-callers split time again or if one will win the job by the end of fall camp.

Baylor’s Charile Brewer is returning after appearing in eight games as a true freshman last season. He threw for 1,562 yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions, and led the Bears to their only win against Kansas in Matt Rhule’s first season. Behind him is little known Mike Everett, Preston Heard, Zack Bennema, Garret McGuire and Gerry Bohanon. While fall camp could bring some surprises, Brewer is expected by many to be the opening day starter.

For TCU, they enter 2018 with Shawn Robinson as the projected starter. Robinson started one game last season as a true freshman against Texas Tech with Kenny Hill out due to concussion protocol. He struggled against the improved Red Raider defense, throwing for only 85 yards and completing six passes. Robinson is a dual threat and that could be his best asset as he prepares to take the reins from Hill.

In Stillwater, Mike Gundy in heading into an unknown quarterback situation. Taylor Cornelius and Keondre Wallace battled during spring football, but the arrival of Dru Brown, a graduate transfer from Hawaii, will shake things up. Brown threw for over 5,000 yards and 37 touchdowns last year. While his arrival helps the Cowboys’ quarterback situation, it may take fall camp for Gundy to make a decision.

Kyler Murray is expected to take over at Oklahoma despite being taken ninth overall in the MLB Draft by the Oakland Athletics and signing to play with them. Murray’s athleticism is unique, but will it be enough to keep the Sooners on top of the Big 12? The former Aggie appeared in seven game last season and passed for 359 yards while rushing for 142. He also threw three touchdowns.

Peyton Bender, a transfer from Washington State, and Carter Stanley both split time last season, but neither could lift the Jayhawks out of the conference basement. Bender threw 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while Stanley threw four with seven interceptions. Head coach David Beaty is in need of a spark at the most important position this fall and is still unsure who his signal-caller will be.

Iowa State was the Cinderella team of the conference last year, going 7-5 and winning the Liberty Bowl against No. 18 Memphis. After Jacob Park took a leave of absence from the team, Matt Campbell turned to Kyle Kempt, who started the year at third on the depth chart. He never looked back, throwing for 1,787 yards and 15 touchdowns in nine games. Kept’s return gives the Cyclones stability at the position, something the program has been lacking for a while.

Skylar Thompson and Alex Delton are expected to compete in fall camp for Kansas State’s quarterback job as neither gained an edge in the spring. Both have great mobility and fit Bill Snyder’s offense. Thompson passed for 689 yards, threw five touchdowns and rushed for 267 yards while adding three scores.

Delton threw for 637 with three touchdowns while rushing for 500 accumulating eight on the ground. It would not be surprising for the Wildcats to go with a quarterback-by-committee approach for 2018 as it has worked before.

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Kliff Kingsbury is facing a dilemma at quarterback for the first time since entering 2015. That year he was deciding between Davis Webb and Patrick Mahomes, both of whom went on to play in the NFL. Now it is between Jett Duffey and McLane Carter as the Red Raiders are preparing to move on from Nic Shimonek. Carter is the only quarterback on the roster who has played meaningful snaps.

Against Texas, Carter got the nod and threw for 237 yards while adding a rushing touchdown. However, two interceptions led Kingsbury to bench him for Shimonek. Duffey appeared in the opening game against Eastern Washington towards the end and completed two passes for 16 yards. At the end of spring football, Kingsbury was still unsure who would be the favorite heading into fall camp.

Fans of the Big 12 will see many unfamiliar faces come September. With several quarterback battles set to commence this fall, all eyes will be on the conference to see who gains the edge for each team.