Baylor received some tough news on Monday, as junior QB Seth Russell will be lost for the season as he undergoes surgery to repair a fracture sustained to the cervical vertebrae in his neck.
The 4th year junior suffered the injury during the 4th quarter of Baylor's 45-27 win over Iowa State.
On Monday, Russell met with a specialist who recommended season-ending surgery. Russell's injury is tough news for Baylor, who had playoff and national championship aspirations. The surgery recommended will keep the injured QB out for six months, but the injury is not expected to end his career.
Many know the path of the junior QB. Russell has sat behind the likes of Nick Florence and Bryce Petty. After being committed to the Kansas Jayhawks, Russell signed with Baylor. Russell was the nation's leading QB, and had been completing around 60% of his passes, and led the country with 29 TDs and over 2100 yards passing.
Baylor will now look towards it's prized 2015 QB recruit, in Jarrett Stidham, to pick up where Russell left off and lead the Bears to a third Big 12 championship and possibly a national championship.
Stidham was the #3 ranked QB in the country for the class of 2015, and was the #1 ranked QB in Texas.
Stidham is a 6'3, 205 lb freshman from Stephenville (TX) HS. Stidham was a prolific passer and runner at Stephenville, and had over 3000 yds passing and 1000 yds rushing in his senior season. Stidham contains several intangibles that could help him perform at a high level in what is going to be a high-pressure situation. Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst, Greg Powers, said this about Stidham:
"He is big and strong and has the exact frame you envision. He has a strong arm and a good overall skill set combo. He throws well working outside of the pocket. He is athletic and has the ability to run, which his time at receiver as a sophomore will back up. Has come in to his own as a junior and grown with each game. He is not afraid to take chances with the ball and press the action, shows confidence in decision making. Has a quick release."
If there is a silver lining, it is that the Bears will have a by week to prepare Stidham for the Bears Thursday night tilt at Kansas State. During Mondays Big 12 Conference Coaches teleconference, Coach Art Briles mentioned the importance of having this by week to prepare:
“It will be very critical this week. He will have more time with our center (Kyle Fuller). He can develop cohesiveness with our running backs and get the timing down with our receivers. He primarily has been throwing to the twos and now he’ll be throwing to the other guys.”
Many will wonder if this situation will be too big to overcome for the talented freshman, but Stidham will have one of the best supporting casts in the country. Baylor ranks #1 in total offense and boasts one of the top offensive lines in the country.
It will be important for Stidham to learn that he doesn't have to win games himself. Stidham just needs to manage the game.
Baylor's new era starts next Thursday night, with a tough matchup against the Kansas State Wildcats. And although many didn't feel the Jarrett Stidham era would start this early, there is excitement in the air, as Stidham possess the intangibles that will thrive in the Art Briles offense.