After the graduation of another record setting quarterback in Baylor history, the Bears for just the first under Coach Briles are looking for a quarterback to step up that has no starting experience. In his first year, Briles has Kirby Freeman as the opening game starter. While he was in his first year with the Bears, he had starting experience at Miami. After that, we had four years of Robert Griffin III as the opening game starter. Last year, Nick Florence started, but he had some experience from when Griffin was out with injury. This year though, the Bears don't have a single quarterback on the roster that has a single start in his college career, at any level.
This year, the Bears have junior Bryce Petty as their starter. Petty has 14 career passes to his name, completing 10 of them for 140 yards. That is roughly a good quarter in some Baylor games. Behind him are two players without a single snap in college. Seth Russell, a redshirt freshman, came into the spring with some touting him as a guy that should start. However, he struggled with his accuracy and decision making all spring and was pretty much lapped by Petty for the starting role.
Another candidate for the backup spot is true freshman Chris Johnson. A physically gifted player with exceptional athleticism, Johnson needs some refinement in his mechanics and footwork. More than likely, he is headed for a redshirt role. My bet, even if he wins the backup role, they will try and redshirt him with Russell getting the mop-up action. This was the plan for Nick Florence before his appearance after then starter Robert Griffin III was knocked out of a must win game against Texas Tech.
So, with 3 young players on the depth chart, what does the future hold for the position? Honestly the potential is as great as it has ever been for the Bears. Petty has two years left, and brings an NFL body and arm to the position with good speed to go along with it. He is much more gifted athletically than Nick Florence. They key will be whether he has the mastery of the offense like his two predecessors.
|Seth Russell||RS FR||SO||JR||SR|
|Chris Johnson||RS||RS FR||SO||JR||SR|
With two years left of Bryce Petty, that would leave Russell with two years of eligibility and Chris Johnson three (assuming he gets a redshirt season). Both Russell and Johnson are excellent prospects for the future, and you could see either player taking the reins and being very successful. However, both appear to have a long way to go to get to that level.
But saying all of this, has anyone ever really had doubts about Art Briles' ability to get a quarterback ready? There were doubts when he first got to Houston, and he ended up with Kevin Kolb and Case Keenum. Then Robert Griffin III took him to another level, with Nick Florence following up by simply reinforcing the man's ability to develop and groom quarterbacks. I kept saying last year that QB is the least of our concerns, as Briles is a master at the position. When Case Keenum, a record setting quarterback in college, in the worst QB you have had as a college coach, you must be doing something right.
That leads me to the recruiting angle of this section. A lot of people are saying we have to get another big-time quarterback this year to keep the pipeline full. Personally, I don't see it. Petty has two more years, and we have 4 or 5 more years of Russell/Johnson. Our top target appears to be Randall Cunningham II, the son of the NFL star of the same name. Cunningham does not have much experience yet, but obviously has the blood lines and at over 6 foot 4 inches, has the size.
A much more recent offer has gone out to Brandon Harris, an intriguing Louisiana quarterback. Harris' recruitment has exploded the past few months picking up interest from Oregon, LSU, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma State along with Baylor. The Bears just offered on Tuesday, joining Nebraska, Arkansas, Arizona State, and Tennessee among other.
Outside of those two players, I think the Baylor staff is looking at Patrick Mahomes, who is probably the next guy on the list. The 6-2 Whitehouse, TX signal caller is more of a pro-style passer than Harris or Cunningham, with a more refined arm and less explosiveness in the running game.I think if the Bears get much lower down the list of recruits they like, we could see them not sign a quarterback this class, due to the young depth they have, and also due to Briles not wanting more than 3-4 scholarship quarterbacks at one time. If we take one this class, it pretty much means we won't take one next year.