The best Quarterbacks in the Big XII

When it came to looking at some of the best running backs, you had to include a lot of players that weren't necessarily the main men at the helms a season before. Well, with the quarterback position, there's experience galore. That means there's going to be a battle this year to find out who the best signal caller will be. Well, here's where we give you a head start.

10 – Adam Barmann (Kansas) – 6-4, 210, Jr. – Last year was probably not what you call a spectacular debut for the then sophomore quarterback. It was bad enough he didn't get to finish the year, but when he did play, it wasn't necessarily pretty. Completing over 53 percent of your passes is good as is throwing more touchdown than interceptions (12 TDs to 9 INTs).


The problem is Barman's timing on when he was at his best and against who.


Out of his 1,427 yards passing on the season, almost half of that came before Barmann hit conference play. And once conference play started, Barmann only topped 200 yards passing twice, once against Texas Tech, who isn't renowned for their defense and Nebraska, whose pass defense was at times, almost non existent.


What he's got going for him this year, though, is one of the better receivers in the conference in senior wideout Mark Simmons, along with a decent line that brings back every starter but one.


Combine that with a decent, if not spectacular running game, Barmann could have his chance to shine.


Player analysis - Barmann is a prototypical type passer with a fair to decent arm; not bad moving around in the pocket, but head coach Mark Mangino won't be running the option with him anytime soon.


9 – Shawn Bell (Baylor) – 6-1, 203, Jr. – Playing or even coaching for Baylor is probably considered to be one of the more pressure-free environments around. Nobody expects you to win, especially those that root for the team.


With that in mind, though, the players and coaches are doing everything they can to do just that.


Yeah, it's probably not going to help, but if there is one guy that could make them at least respectable on the offensive side, it's going to have to be Bell.


The good news for Bell is that he comes into the season, off of a season where he didn't throw one ball to the other team. Also, Bell threw over 60 percent of his passes complete.


Granted, that was in limited duty, Bell sharing time with cohort, sophomore Terrence Parks, who is a threat for the job this fall.


But it was a good start and with the help of the hulking and hearty Paul Mosley at running back along with some experience and size on the O-line and experience and skill at wideout, Bell's table is set for success.


Well, in a Baylor sort of way.


Analysis - Bell is a mid-range passer in terms of arm strength, but throws a good ball up to 20 yards. Moves around well in the pocket, but isn't a real running threat. He's efficient, not excellent.


8 – Donovan Woods (Oklahoma State) – 6-2, 205, So. – When the younger brother of Rashaun Woods took the field, you knew you were going to see athleticism, but OSU needed more than a guy that could run.


We've seen enough of that over the years, quarterbacks in the conference showing ability in being fleet of foot, but when it came to passing, there's an old saying about not being able to hit water from a boat. 


Woods in his debut as a true frosh dispelled a lot of the doubters, throwing better than two to one, touchdowns to interceptions (13 TDs to 5 INTs), along with completing over 50 percent of his passes and he even ranked second in the conference in pass efficiency.


The problem is, amongst all starting quarterbacks having played a full year, Woods is considerably down the charts in total attempts.


The good news for Donovan, though, is that another member of the family, wide receiver D'Shaun Woods returns along with wideout Prentiss Elliot, who's just going into his sophomore year.


That kind of familiarity will help Woods a ton this year as he'll have to increase the amount of throws, especially with stud running back Vernand Morency ready to play in the NFL.


Analysis - Woods has athleticism to be sure and with his size, he's a potent weapon on the run. Defenses will try more "contain" on him than they will flat out blitzing, because this kid can kill you in the open field. Again, though, he'll have to prove that he can up his passing attempts considerably and still maintain the kind of consistency and poise he had his initial season.




7 - Cody Hodges (Texas Tech) – 6-0, 210, Sr. – Only Texas Tech could have a quarterback ranked from last year, when that particular quarterback threw the ball exactly 9 times all season.


But, the formula stays as is with the Red Raiders, Hodges being just another senior that should come in, throw for a trillion yards and leave with a top five passer ranking in the country.


The problem is those nine passes he threw last year, despite the fact that more than half were complete and almost half of those went for touchdowns.


The big question is, can he run this very unique type of system?


I know, I know. You Raider fans are saying that he can run it, because that question has been raised of everyone since head coach Mike Leach arrived and all he does is slot another guy in that does just as good a job as the guy before him.


Or better


That's why Hodges made the top ten, but he'll still have to prove that he can work within a system that demands a quarterback to be both smart and savvy at the same time.


The good thing for Cody is that he's got a good running game, but everyone knows that at Tech, it's the pass that sets up the run.


To that end, Hodges will have the usual gaggle of wideouts to choose from, junior Jarrett Hicks being the big dog of the group this year. There will be speed, size and all that, so having guys to catch the ball isn't an issue here.


What could be an issue is protection while trying to get the ball in their hands, some key starters gone from the offensive line and depth is a definite problem right now.


If Hodges acclimates quickly enough, a three step and deliver kind of offense can offset much of the pressure coming in. If he doesn't, the growing pains could be considerable.


You can still expect a trillion yards when it's over, though. For this offense, it's just a matter of when Hodges gets it kicked into gear.


Analysis - Cody is a typical Texas Tech quarterback, though not the prototypical 6-3 type of signal caller that you might be used to seeing under center. He can chuck it, but in this offense, the deep ball only does you so much good. Not a real threat to run, but he is at the very least as mobile as those that have preceded him in the last few years.


6 - Joel Klatt (Colorado) – 6-1, 210, Sr. – When he was good, he was pretty darn good and at times, great, but not always against the best competition. I guess for Klatt, you could say that he had a feast or famine kind of year.


Against Texas A&M, Klatt was unconscious, throwing for 346 yards, completing two for scores. Against Kansas and Missouri, he was at times performing as if he WASN'T conscious, throwing to each team three interceptions.


That's kind of the nutshell description of Klatt as he can give you something really good, because he's got the ability or he can end your day pretty fast, because his judgment seems to need a little help at times. That's why he finished the season throwing more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (11).


Yes, there is a chance that Klatt won't even be the starter, but sophomore Brian White seems like the only other viable option and with a fairly untested group of wideouts and still mysterious make up on the offensive line, I don't know that they will risk early on starting a season that needs to go off without a hitch.


They open with Colorado State, but have the "wonderful" fortune of having to actually go on the road to face Miami and then head to Oklahoma State to open up play in the conference.


If it is Klatt, he'll have a mainstay to throw to in standout tight end, senior Klopfenstein and there is at least speed at receiver with sophomore Dusty Sprague and junior Blake Mackey.


The running game took a hit, though, Purify graduating and Brian Calhoun opting out as one of the many off-season transfers CU has endured over the last two years.


It won't take long before CU fans figure out what this team can and can't do. They got enough weapons on offense that if things go well with Klatt, things could go very well indeed. If they don't, though, and CU has to throw someone else into the mix, especially early on, it could be a long year for the Buffs.


Analysis – Good at a lot of things, not great at any one thing. Nice arm, fair to decent mobility and has shown at times to have very good poise in the pocket. Pretty inconsistent in his play overall, CU either getting great or horrible performances. Tough, but sometimes a little too tough mentally.



5 – Bret Meyer (Iowa State) – 6-3, 205, So. – Last year seemed to be the year for freshman quarterbacks across the country.


With that being said, Meyer probably won't be confused anytime soon with the likes of Chad Henne, Brian Brohm or Erik Ainge.


That doesn't take away from his debut with ISU, though, Meyer proving that over time, he could end up having a pretty solid career in Ames.


The good part about last year for Meyer was that he completed over 51 percent of his passes. And he threw more touchdowns (10) than he did interceptions (6).


And thanks to Nebraska, Meyer was able to notch at least one 300 yard performance on the year. That's more good news as Meyer's main weapon in that game and many others was then freshman wide receiver Todd Blythe is back, but there's a catch.


He's not exactly healthy.


A torn ACL in the off-season could make a comeback pretty iffy, but if he does, Meyer has a definite threat. If he doesn't, there are still other guys around, but suffice it to say that head coach Dan McCarney would probably like to have Blythe back as it is.


Bret will have some help from Nebraska native Stevie Hicks at running back, but this team can't run to set up the pass. Not consistently. First, they need Blythe back and if they can get him back, Meyer won't have to worry so much about the dreaded sophomore jinx.


Analysis - Meyer has a good combination of size, strength and speed in being able to move around and run if he has to. He's got a pretty good arm, though his consistency varies from game-to-game. A solid overall threat that you can't just leave in the pocket, but can't get crazy with on the blitz, because he's a good enough runner to make you pay.


4 – Dylan Meier (Kansas State) – 6-4, 210, Jr. – There's enough good things to say about Meier's potential that you might wonder at why he's ranked no higher than this.


Yes, he  completed almost 58 percent of his passes last year and yes, he threw for almost 1,500 yards, and all just in his sophomore year. Much of his potential, though, resides on his opportunities and a whole lot on his supporting cast.


First, Meier isn't your typical dual-threat QB, though he's had some decent success running the ball. It would seem that when running takes precedence head coach Bill Snyder looks more than willing to use fellow QB Adam Web. Webb is definitely the best running quarterback on the team, but he's been very suspect in the passing game, something Kansas State desperately needs this year as Darren Sproles no longer is there to bolster the load for the ground game.


Oh, and the offensive line is going to be a little green.


I like Meier as the best overall threat, though redshirt freshman Allan Evridge could be a threat down the road. What Meier gives the Wildcats right now in balance and experience, however, makes him the man for the job.


If KSU had an experied line and Sproles was back, Meier could have had a hell of a year. He's got all the tools to be good down the line. And, if he can stay healthy, he still might be one of the better all around prospects in the conference. But, he's going to need a lot of help along the way.


Kansas State should have a fair to good running game with Carlos Alsup and Thomas Clayton, but something has to give with the wildcats. There's not a lot of experience in the backfield. There's not a lot of experience on the line and there's not a lot of consistent experience at quarterback.


Defenses are going to be teeing off on whatever they think Kansas State can't do, so Meier needs to find out quickly what they can.


It's either going to be a very good year for Meier or very, very bad. We'll just have to see which one.


Analysis - Meier has a good arm and shows lots of promise in being able to deliver the ball deep and on timing patterns. Inconsistent, but a shoulder issue is a hell of a thing for a QB to deal with almost all year. Fair to decent mobility, ok speed and seems to be pretty adept in and outside of the pocket for someone of his experience. 


3 – Vince Young (Texas) – 6-5, 230, Jr. – I don't want to hear it, ok? Yes, Vince Young is a Heisman candidate and he's physically one of the most impressive quarterbacks in the country.


Great, but how does he throw?


And yes, I know Texas fans will point to the fact that he threw almost 60 percent of his passes complete last season. Of course, I'll throw in the fact that he ranked 7th in the conference in the actual number of completions. Plus, let's not forget about the fact that while Young threw 12 passes for touchdowns, just one less than that went for completions to the other team.


Yeah, I know the guy can run. Heck, he made the Michigan Wolverines look like Ray Charles trying to read a stucco wall.


When the chips are down, though, and you put real pressure on this guy, he has a tendency to crack.


Plus, let's not forget that the wonderful luxury of a sure-thing back in Cedric Benson is no longer carrying the load.


What that basically means for Texas is that defenses tried as hard as they could to make Young beat them with the pass. Only, they couldn't contain him and stop Benson as well.


No, Selvin Young and Ramonce Taylor are both very capable backs, but neither has proven as of yet that they can replace yet another typical workhorse talent like they lost in the now Chicago Bear.


This is Young's make or break year as far as I am concerned. He's potentially Daunte Culpepper with more speed. He just needs to find some consistency back in the pocket and especially in pressure situations or his undoing will be Texas' undoing in what should be a banner year for the Horns.


The iffy news isn't about talent at wideout, it's about experience, though tight end David Thomas should once again have a solid year, ranking as one of the better tight ends in the country last season. The receivers, though, there's got to be some guys stepping up and they are going to be kids, relatively speaking.


The great news is that while Young has a tendency to run when he doesn't have to, he won't have the excuse that he has to run very often this year. His offensive line is the best in the conference and probably one of the best in the entire country. So, Vince is going to have his opportunities.


That's what it will be all about with him, because he's proven with glimpses that he's got what it takes to be the full package. His passing just has to get more consistent and most of all, dependable.


Analysis – Physically, the guy is a freak; great arm, great size and at least the ability to be effective throwing inside and outside of the pocket. His running speaks for itself, but if that doesn't tell you enough, ask Michigan.


His vision of the field is suspect at this point, but that could more judgment than his actual vision, because he certainly seems to be able to see the field well enough when running the ball.


2 – Reggie McNeal (Texas A&M) – 6-2, 206, Sr. – When he was a frosh., McNeal might have been getting almost as much hype as the player we just talked about. And, like Young, he's had some growing pains along the way.


Another thing that is similar about them, though, is the fact that within each there was and still is some incredible potential.


Last year, McNeal realized just some of it.


Reggie's 2,791 yards last season ranked him as the third most successful passer in regards to yards, behind a Heisman winner and the typically prolific passer at Texas Tech, whoever that is to be from year to year.


And for quarterbacks in the conference with over 300 completions, his almost 59 percent ranked him also close to the best.


An over three to one ratio of touchdowns (14) to interceptions (4), an ability to run very effectively (ranked behind only Vince Young in yards rushing for quarterbacks) and the experience he's garnered from both good and bad seasons, this kid is ready to go.


The only thing he needs now is help. He'll hopefully get more of that from the running game, Courtney Lewis providing what should be a solid back and he's got receivers galore to throw to, Earvin Taylor, DeQawn Mobley and l'Tyrdrik Riley, just to name a few.  Add to that a lot of potential on the offensive line, anchored by one of the country's best in senior offensive tackle Jami Hightower.


That's a lot of pieces Reggie has in place to help him to have what could be an epic year. Well, at least individually. We'll see if it translates to team success down the road.


Analysis - Solid athlete, offering a great combination of size, speed, arm strength and pocket presence. He's matured well, getting over some pretty shaky confidence in the pocket prior to last season, but has steadily increased every aspect of his game's performance. Good vision as well.


1 – Brad Smith (Missouri) – 6-2, 205, Sr. – Quit it. No, I said quit it. I can hear you laughing as you see Brad Smith ranked as my top dog for the year of 2005.


Evidently I haven't watched his last two.


I have, but that is not going to dull the memory I have of when this young man came in as a freshman and single-handedly put terror into the eyes of defenses that had to face him.


Smith ran for over a thousand yards, passed for over 2,300 and he had a better than two to one ratio of touchdowns (15) to interceptions (6).


As a freshman


Since then, the rap on Smith is that he's been Pinkelized, the Missouri head coach basically ruining one of the best talents in the country, trying to make him something he's not.


Well, it seems someone has learned a lesson. Well, without admitting it, of course, but if the sounds from the spring are true, than the now older Smith will get to be like the younger Smith from before.


The thing is, he's got pocket experience now.


You see, there's a difference in being a pocket passer and having pocket presence. Smith has the latter, but he's certainly not the former. Here's a guy that if you give him the chance to get comfortable and that means let him move around in the backfield, you may find that his final point of release in regards to the spot on the field could be right back to where he started.


He's just not dropping back to get there.


Whatever Pinkel has done to try and limit this young man, without actually trying to hurt his overall game, I think that Smith can quickly find again once the reins are cut a little looser.


The key now is what kind of help he'll have around him this time as when he was a frosh., he had some guy named Justin Gage.


Senior Sean Coffey is the veteran, the leading returning receiver on the team and Will Franklin in the budding star, sporting size and a whole lot of speed.


That's not the biggest question, though, as that resides right in front of Smith and squarely behind. Regardless of Smith's versatility, he's going to need help and the backfield of Missouri is full of pretty fresh faces. Also, the offensive line is going to have to retool, having to replace three starters.


Ok, now I see why they are going to let Brad Smith run.


He's not going to have any choice.


Seriously, though, if Smith can find once again that moxie he had as a frosh., I think the Missouri offense could be special. Now, I'm not talking conference title here, but based on recent "successes" for the Tigers, a division title wouldn't be so bad.


Either way, Smith is the key to everything they do and I think his final year could be where he gets to relive a little of what his debut year was like.


Analysis – Physically Smith is ideal in so many ways, possessing great agility and speed, deceptive acceleration and has proven that when he gets hot, he's very effective both in the air and on the ground. Smith has a solid arm, great vision and he's able to throw well moving outside of the pocket. Smith's strength is when he's allowed to use all of them under center.


Next up: Linebackers


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