Big 12 quarterbacks maintain their reputation

Charlie Brewer scouts the field for a pass as his teammates protect him from ACU defenders last September. Lariat File Photo

By Ahfaaz Merchant | Sports Writer

The Big 12 conference is known for producing elite quarterbacks such as Robert Griffin III, Patrick Mahomes and Vince Young. The QB battle between the conference has always been something to look forward to, but in recent years the Oklahoma Sooners, led by head coach Lincoln Riley, have been dominating the conference and proving their talent.

In the 2018 season, former Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray threw for just over 4,000 yards with 40 touchdowns, ultimately leading his Sooners to a 12-1 record and the Heisman trophy.

Murray was the latest in a list of big-name OU signal callers, immediately following Baker Mayfield, the quarterback who turned around the Cleveland Brown’s streak of losses with a 7-8-1 overall season. Oklahoma is coming off back-to-back Heisman winners and No. 1 overall NFL draft picks,but this season they are not the only ones with the threatening quarterbacks.

Once again, the Big 12 is stacked with big names under center. But there are three who are making a name for themselves in the conference, according to 247sports. Baylor’s Charlie Brewer, Texas’ Sam Ehlinger and Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts, who recently transferred from the University of Alabama, are several of them mentioned.

The Baylor Bears have proved their place in the Big 12 behind the arm of Austin junior Charlie Brewer. Brewer led the Bears to a 7-6 record and a 45-38 victory against the Vanderbilt Commodores in the Academy Sports and Outdoors Texas Bowl. Brewer threw for 3,019 yards with 19 touchdowns in 2018.

The junior from Austin isn’t only a force statistically; he is also a leader, according to head coach Matt Rhule.

“I think Charlie’s an elite competitor. He’s a winner. He’s tough,” Rhule said. “I think he’s going to be one of the great players in the conference.”

Just a little over 100 miles away from McLane Stadium is another player whose talent is not only taking the conference but the nation by storm. Junior Sam Ehlinger, the young talent out of Austin Westlake High School, is taking Texas football by the horns and making the most of it. The junior playing for Coach Tom Herman threw for 3,292 yards with 25 touchdowns in the 2018 season. He also led the Longhorns to a huge 48-45 victory over the conference-leading Sooners in the final seconds of their 2018 rivalry game last October.

Despite all of his efforts to push Texas football to new heights, there are still doubts in some minds in light of comments made about his quarterback, according to Herman.

“Sam [Ehlinger] loves to play with a chip on his shoulder, and I’m sure he will use this to crank it up a notch. It is, again, it’s pretty irrelevant in terms of how it affects our program. We’re worried about our program,” Herman said.

The biggest threat in the conference, though, comes from the Heisman producing workhorses, the Oklahoma Sooners and transfer Jalen Hurts. With Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray’s shoes to fill, the Sooners got good news this off season with the transfer announcement of Jalen Hurts. His arrival to Norman, Okla. adds a bit of spice to the Big 12, as the Sooners have been making an appearance in the college football playoffs for two consecutive seasons but keep coming up short of the National Championship.

The transfer quarterback lost his starting position to Alabama junior Tua Tagovailoa in the 2018 national championship game and sat out the following season. He put up a fight during his time as starter, though, with 5,626 throwing yards and 48 touchdowns. These numbers are much higher than that of the young quarterbacks at Baylor and Texas, since Hurts has a year of experience on the two of them.

Although the Big 12 is filled with quarterback talent, several teams are still trying to find a standout within their roster. In the case of West Virginia, Will Grier’s departure into the NFL as the third-round draft pick to the Carolina Panthers will leave new head coach, Neal Brown, with the task of developing more depth in the quarterback position. In contrast, Texas Christian University is abundant with options to fill the quarterback position, but head coach Gary Patterson has one name in mind.

“Alex Delton: you’ve got a guy that was a team captain, handled himself well,” Patterson said. “We didn’t seek out Alex. He sought us out.”

Big 12 football will be back in motion on Saturday, and conference play will begin Sept. 21.