After having some of the most consistent and high level quarterbacks in the country, the Big 12 will be full of new faces behind center all over the conference this season.
Several quarterbacks transferred into the Big 12 this offseason such as Texas’ Quinn Ewers, West Virginia’s J.T. Daniels, Oklahoma’s Dillon Gabriel and Kansas State’s Adrian Martinez, which in itself proves there will be many new faces under center this year.
There were also a few departures from players looking for more playing time elsewhere via the transfer portal, such as Texas’ Casey Thompson or Baylor’s Gerry Bohanon.
Schools like Texas, Texas Tech and TCU are still in the middle of quarterback battles, but there are inklings of who will win those, therefore it seems like an appropriate time to do a preseason ranking of the best quarterbacks in the conference.
Here are my Big 12 quarterback rankings based on who is viewed as the favorite to start. These rankings are not set in stone, and could easily be impacted by certain quarterbacks winning the job.
Hunter Dekkers, Iowa State
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The heir to Brock Purdy, Hunter Decker’s is inheriting a team that lost its best tight end and running back to the NFL. He was inserted multiple times to replace a struggling Purdy in 2021, but now that is his team, the former-four star has a chance to ascend to the middle tier or maybe even top tier of this list.
Jalon Daniels, Kansas
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Daniels was electric in Kansas’ final few games of the season, and will likely get a chance to build on that during year two of the Lance Leipold experience.
Blake Shapen, Baylor
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After an impressive performance during the Big 12 Championship, Blake Shapen was able to parlay that into beating out former starter Gerry Bohanon this spring. Bohanon has now entered the portal, meaning it is Shapen’s time to shine in what will likely be a more impressive arsenal attack with him at quarterback.
Donovan Smith, Texas Tech
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This quarterback battle is still heating up as Donovan Smith who took over Tyler Shough after his injury is looking to fend him off to be the full-time starter. Whoever wins this job will likely put up astronomical numbers with new offensive coordinator Zach Kittley.
Max Duggan, TCU
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Duggan is here with hesitancy, as with Sonny Cumbie’s offense being installed, his throwing ability is concerning. He completed 58% of his passes during his career, and with Chandler Morris nipping at his heel’s for his job, Duggan may not be a member of the list come August. He is however one of the more proven and experienced players, so for that he earns the sixth spot.
Adrian Martinez, Kansas State
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Injuries have held Adrian Martinez back, but there have been plenty of flashes that have shown why he is in the upper echelon of the Big 12. He was at point considered a Heisman dark horse, but will need to stay healthy and be more consistent in the little apple.
Quinn Ewers, Texas
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While he only has a few career handoffs under his belt, Ewers’ raw potential alone is why he is so high on the list. We got a taste of his arm talent during Texas’ spring game, and although Sarkisian has not announced the winner of the job yet, many experts believe that Ewers is a lock to win it. Based on what his expectations are and the glimpse we have seen of him so far, Ewers has a chance to be atop the list by the end of the season and many would be disappointed if he wasn’t.
Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State
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After an increase in passing attempts last season, Sanders’ passing touchdowns increased, but unfortunately so did his interceptions. He also saw a dip in his completion percentage as well. We have seen enough Spencer Sanders to know that he will likely never be the best quarterback in the conference, and we have likely seen his ceiling. He makes questionable decisions, and was carried by a stellar running game and defense last season. There is a chance he can take that next step and be the talent we once thought he was a lock to be, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
J.T. Daniels, West Virginia
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One of the newer additions to the conference, Daniels has been unable to avoid the injury bug at either of his previous destinations thus leading to his backup becoming a star in his absence. He and Gabriel could easily be switched, but Daniels cannot stay on the field. He provides a major upgrade to West Virginia, and may make them a dark horse contender for the Big 12.
Dillon Gabriel, Oklahoma
Gabriel is arguably the most proven quarterback, and now that he is reunited with his former offensive coordinator in Jeff Lebby, there is an expectation that he will explode again. With improved weapons around him, the sky is the limit for the UCF transfer.