Race for Baylor football starting quarterback ‘still real early to tell’

Dequan Finn (12) was the 2023 MAC Player of the Year after leading the Toledo Rockets to an 11-2 record. Camie Jobe

By Zach Babajanof-Rustrian | Sports Writer

Baylor football wrapped up its second spring practice on Thursday, and there was an added emphasis on the quarterback battle which officially began on Tuesday.

The race for the starting quarterback job is currently between three athletes: fifth-year senior Toledo transfer Dequan Finn and redshirt juniors Sawyer Robertson and RJ Martinez. New offensive coordinator Jake Spavital sees promise in all three quarterbacks.

“[Sawyer’s] a big strong guy. He’s been in these air raid systems before, kind of getting back to used to throwing it around a little bit more, but the team loves him,” Spavital said. “RJ can spin it now. I’m really impressed with RJ right now. I like how that ball comes out of his hand. You can stretch the field vertically. He’s fun to watch. He has that gunslinger mentality.

“And then Dequan has a lot of experience under his belt right now. You can see how calm he is in the pocket. He’s really trying to work the ins and outs of our offense right now. … But it’s still real early to tell. But for the most part this entire unit is working; they’re doing a great job.”

As a transfer, Finn is stepping into a new environment. He’s looking to adapt on and off the field to show the team and the coaches that he’s accountable.

“Being at Toledo, a three-year starter, it’s different when you’ve gone from one place to another place,” Finn said. “That’s life, but just being able to adapt and to … be comfortable with the guys.”

While adapting, Finn said he has enjoyed getting to know the other quarterbacks.

“Great characters off the field — just smiling all the time and just really just connecting with those guys off the field and really picking their brains to see how they think about football,” Finn said.

While Finn is adjusting to the green and gold, Robertson is looking to build off last year and see what the future holds for him and the new offense.

“There’s a lot [to feel about the new offense],” Robertson said. “One is kind of the familiarity with what I’ve done in the past. Obviously, we didn’t really do it last year. It’s a little different than last year, so there’s kind of some growing pains there. But once we get it, it’s really fun to play in as a quarterback. It’s really hard to stop as a defense.”

Last season, Robertson had the opportunity to start after former starting quarterback Blake Shapen was injured before the Utah game. Looking back, Robertson said he is proud of his growth throughout the season.

“I’m looking to build off how the West Virginia game kind of went,” Robertson said. “I would say what I’m looking to improve the most is … with a bit of new offense. And you have to learn all the bells and whistles with that, how to operate that, making the 10 other guys around you the best players that they can be.

“I think it’s the most important quality that a quarterback can have. That’s what separates the great ones from the good ones and average ones.”

Martinez said he has been happy to see the quarterback room fill up with experienced players such as Robertson and Finn, and he’s excited to work with them as the season draws near.

“[Sawyer is] a really great guy to still be in the room for us. Having just been here with the guys, having been a leader for us, he’s really been a great addition and really glad that he stayed with us,” Martinez said. “And Dequan coming in has really pushed all of us to get better. He’s done a really good job just leading and being able to come into the new locker room.”

Martinez added that the competition for the starting quarterback spot has been helping the contenders improve, and he knows the spot will go to whoever the best football player is.

Even though the race for starting quarterback is still going on, Spavital aims to create an identity with the offense this spring. He said he’s looking for the consistency of everyone showing up every day and working to get ready for the fall.

“We’re still so far away from the season. We are only two practices in right now. We have 13 more. We have an entire summer. We have a fall camp,” Spavital said. “You’re not trying to win a Big 12 championship on the first snap. It’s going to be a lot of added reps, and we just talk about just showing up and being consistent every single day. Like, I don’t want different people, a different guy. I don’t want moody people. I just want guys that are here to get better and understand what we’re trying to accomplish.”