With the lull of no football and basketball in full effect, quite honestly, I just needed to have something to distract myself from life itself. Yes, we have baseball, but it is hard to fully invest oneself in something that you rarely, if ever get to watch. It is tough to follow the Bears baseball program and their amazing run from Dallas. And I LOVE baseball. You will not meet many bigger Texas Rangers fan than me. I still have not spoken a word about Game 6 and a certain lack of an out here or there.
So what is one to do in this time of sports need? Let's distract ourselves with position previews! As all position previews are by law required to start with the quarterback position, we begin with the biggest question mark about the Baylor Bears, at least to people outside the program. I believe that the defense as a hole, and more specifically the safety position, is the biggest question mark facing the Bears. However, when you lose your programs first Heisman Trophy winner and the face of our program for the past 4 years, it can tend to leave a large hole.
As I like to say though, there is one thing Art Briles can do, and that is find a quarterback. Briles' three quarterbacks in college have been Kevin Kolb, Case Keenum, and Griffin III. That is not a bad pedigree for your first three attempts at filling the most important position on the field. Now, I am not saying that Nick Florence, or even Bryce Petty, are going to be what those previous three players were for Briles. Two of those players are starting quarterbacks in the NFL and the other is the all-time NCAA leader in passing yards, touchdowns and completions.
Currently, there are just two quarterbacks on scholarship for the Bears. 5th year Senior Nick Florence was the backup last year, and is the leader in the clubhouse for the starting position in 2012. He graduated high school in 2008 and was in the same class as Robert Griffin III, but was held back a semester to be a Grey Shirt candidate. Florence has been in a backup role his entire career, but has started several games for the Bears. Stepping in for Griffin in the 2009 season, he started 7 games, but only went 2-5. He threw for over 1700 yards but 9 interceptions to just 6 touchdowns. However, that was freshman year Florence. We are going to see Senior Nick Florence, now a man that has been in the offense for several years, and knows what Coach Briles wants his quarterbacks to do.
Florence's strength is his knowledge of the offense and his ability to lead. Few players have the leadership qualities that Robert Griffin II has, but it would be incorrect to say that Florence cannot pick up most of that slack. He is a confident young man that the players like and listen to. During the spring game, I saw him going over to his receivers and lineman and working with them, correcting them, and telling them what he needs them to do; during a scrimmage! While the non-scholarship quarterbacks got their shots, Florence would be talking with his backup and working with him. Florence is a leader who will be a game manager for this offense.
Behind Florence is Bryce Petty, the redshirt sophomore from Midlothian, TX. Petty saw some mop-up time last year in spurts backing up Griffin, racking up 43 yards passing on 4 attempts. To say he is inexperienced would be putting it lightly. What he lacks for in experience though, he makes up for in pure skills and abilities. Athletically, Petty has everything you need from a quarterback. He is a legitimate 6-3, 230 pounds. He has a very live arm with the ball exploding out of his hand. In the cross winds the team saw during the Spring Scrimmage, Petty threw some very strong deep throws. He also has very good speed and the ability to make defenders miss.
Behind Florence and Petty are a few walk-ons. However, reinforcements are on the way this fall. The Bears signed two quarterbacks in the 2012 recruiting class, Seth Russell and Terrence Singleton. Singleton comes in as a true dual threat quarterback, and possible even an athlete. He has been given the sometimes hollow promise of "you will get a chance at QB". Does that mean he will get an actual shot, or will he get a non-red jersey his 2nd practice? We will have to wait and see. Singleton brings a lot to the table though as a quarterback, but he is a little short for the position.
At just 6-0 (and that might be pushing it), he will have to overcome his lack of height to succeed at the position. However, his athleticism and speed is a major weapon in the backfield, and he has a good enough arm to make things happen in the passing game as well. The big question mark, as it is with all quarterbacks is, will they be able to learn the offense and will they have the accuracy to get the job done. Personally, I think he gets a good chance at the position and stays in the red jersey for his hole redshirt season at least.
Joining Singleton in the quarterbacks meeting is late commit Seth Russell. The Garland High School prospect is much more of a pocket passer than Singleton. At 6-3, Russell as the height you want to see from a quarterback. He is a lesser ranked prospect than Singleton (42nd compared to 70th), but the one time Kansas commit is a good enough athlete to run the zone/read aspects of the offense. Russell had over 500 yards rushing his senior campaign, to go along with 1500 yards passing. Russell is an above average athlete with good speed. In his highlight videos, I noticed a bit of a loopy delivery with some extra jiggles in his passing motion, but those can be fixed with good coaching. He also needs to heavy coaching in his footwork, as his steps a little choppy and he seemed flat-footed at times. Again, good coaching can correct these issues.
While these players are all on campus, or on their way, the big guy on the horizon for the Bears is going to be just a senior in high school next season. Baylor has already secured the commitment of 4-star quarterback Chris Johnson of Bryan HS. The 6-4, 212 pound single-caller is one of the best quarterback prospects in the nation. He is a tremendous athlete with elite speed and the ability to stretch the field with his arm. Some people are comparing him to Vince Young as a recruit, but I see a bit more of a Brad Smith in him. He is a little taller, and maybe not as shifty, but he is already a better deep ball passes than Smith and has a higher ceiling. With singing day still a long way away, the Bears will work hard to hold onto Johnson, and more than likely, get another commitment to build numbers at the position.
Current Depth Chart:
1. Nick Florence – 6-1, 205, Senior
2. Bryce Petty – 6-3, 230, Sophomore
1. Seth Russell – 6-3, 195, 3-star (70th ranked QB)
2. Terrance Singleton – 6-0, 175, 3-star (42nd ranked QB)
2013 Recruits Offered:
1. Chris Johnson (COMMIT) – 6-4, 212, 4-star (27th ranked QB)
2. Cord Sandberg – 6-3, 211, 3-star (44th ranked QB)