Petty rises up to lead Bears to first BCS bowl

Bryce Petty leads the Baylor Bears to first Big 12 Title and BCS Bowl. Matt Hellman | Lariat Multimedia Editor
Bryce Petty leads the Baylor Bears to first Big 12 Title and BCS Bowl.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Multimedia Editor

By Parmida Schahhosseini
Sports Writer

Good things come to those who wait. It couldn’t have been scripted any better for junior quarterback Bryce Petty. After waiting behind former quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Nick Florence, Petty relished his opportunity, leading the Baylor Bears to its first Big 12 Title.

“I kind of just started crying uncontrollably and I don’t really do that much, but it’s just been a process and it’s the fact that when you put your trust in God and he’s faithful, things work out and it’s a great feeling.” Petty said.

Petty came into this season with big shoes to fill, but he believed in himself. Last season, Baylor’s offense was ranked second with Florence setting the mark for most passing yards in a season at 4,309. While Petty didn’t eclipse that record, he did lead the No. 1 offense in the country, averaging 624.5 yards per game. Since the beginning of the season, Petty has made it known that Baylor had a chance to win the Big 12 and backed up his talk with his play on the field.

Petty averaged 320.3 yards per game, throwing for 30 touchdowns and only two interceptions. At 61.8 percent completion, he surpassed Florence’s percentage at 61.6. Petty’s ability to throw the deep ball has kept defenses honest. Petty leads the nation with 9.5 yards per play this season.

“[Petty’s play] is just phenomenal,“ head coach Art Briles said. “You would like to expect that, but to see it be a reality is really good. The numbers are good, but the thing I’m so impressed with is just his leadership ability. The guys is a natural leader and he’s got so much compassion, poise, maturity inside of him for the limited amount of reps he’s had prior to this year. It’s pretty remarkable quite honestly.”

Petty’s road to being a quarterback wasn’t easy. Prior to Baylor, Petty committed to Tennessee, but destiny had other plans for him. Petty ended up coming to Baylor, but saw no action. In his first year, he was on the practice squad, but redshirted to retain eligibility. In 2012, he saw a little bit of game action, playing in six games, finishing 7-for-10 with a touchdown. After Florence finished his eligibility, it was Petty’s time to rise up.

“I have waited a long time for this,” Petty said. “I think some of those fans were crying more than I was and that’s what it’s all about. It’s not just a family in the locker room. It’s a family outside. Baylor Nation came together in a big way, not just in this season, but also in past seasons. There have been rough times, which is what makes being on top here so great.“

Petty started out the season strong, leading his team to three straight games scoring 70 points or more. He even led the Baylor Bears to their first road win over Kanas State in Manhattan, Kan. Petty threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Petty finished the season passing for more than 200 yards and two touchdowns in all of 12 games.

Despite the adversity late in the season, Petty’s teammates were confident that he could finish the job. Junior wide receiver Antwan Goodley thrived as his chemistry with Petty propelled him for a 1,000-yard season.

“Don’t you see what he’s doing?” junior running back Lache Seastrunk said. “If there wasn’t a feature back, he could run it, throw it, shovel it. I don’t know he could probably shoot a pass to somebody. Bryce is the whole quarterback in one. That’s what people would drool and dream about.”

This season, Petty has given Baylor Nation what it wanted. With a chance to play in Baylor’s first BCS bowl, Petty is able to cement his spot in Baylor history as one of the program’s best quarterbacks.