Hybl breaks down the quarterback race

Former OU quarterback Nate Hybl gives a unique insider perspective on each of the four starting quarterback candidates. Pictured left: Brent Rawls throws a pass during the 2002 Red/White game.

NORMAN -- Nate Hybl capped off a great senior year guiding the Sooners to the Big 12 Championship and a Rose Bowl Championship. Hybl is now training for tryouts with NFL teams, but he was able to give OUInsider.com a few minutes to talk about the quarterback situation for next year, where only injured junior Jason White returns with any experience.

"I have thought about this topic quite a bit now because everybody seems to ask me everyday who I think is going to start next year," said Hybl. "Each one of them brings a different set of talents and abilities to the table. I have to admit that I am rooting for Jason a little bit. I am friends with all of them, but Jason and I have grown up together in this program and we have become good friends through our competition against one another.

"Contrary to what many people think, we don't hate each other. In fact, we are great friends. Jason is working out like a madman and he now looks like a linebacker or a defensive end. I mean, the man is huge. So huge that I didn't recognize him with his shirt off in the weight room the other day. He is bigger than me at this point and right now I am not sure I can get him on the bench or squat like I have been able to over the last couple of years.

But will Jason be ready to at full speed come two-a-days?

"Jason says he certainly will be ready for the fall and maybe for the spring. I wouldn't put anything past him," Hybl continued. "He has a great resolve and determination within him that not all players have. He is one of the hardest workers on the team and he is so mentally tough.

"I think it is important that Jason can make it back for the spring or at least make it back so that he can go through passing drills. He has missed a lot of football over the last couple of years and, quite frankly, he has spent more time rehabbing his knees than actually playing football. I know that sounds bad, but I don't know any other way to say it. I really don't know what the future holds for him, but if he can return healthy he is the only quarterback with any experience and that means a lot at Oklahoma, especially playing the type of schedule we play.

"I know that Jason will throw the ball well when comes back because he has always thrown the ball well, but I have no idea about his mobility and that has also always been a big part of his game. Knowing Jason like I do, I have to believe that he will come all the way back and be a factor in the quarterback competition. Jason coming back at 100 percent will be a big factor on what kind of chance he has to start next year."

Talk about Paul Thompson's game.

"Paul Thompson has an extremely quick release and throws a real tight spiral," said Hybl. "He has a really good arm. He is a young guy so he has a lot of stuff to learn. I think it will take some growth and a lot of reps before he can really feel good at quarterback. It takes time to mature at quarterback so that you feel comfortable in the pocket. Paul brings the best athletic ability to the position and his ability to run will give him another weapon to compete with."

The fact Paul took snaps with the varsity all last season will help him and gives him a little bit of a head start over the other young guys," Hybl continued. "If Paul used that time well and really paid attention, then it could help him in the spring. As a quarterback, you can just relax and play and not worry about your assignments your natural ability can come through. Paul should be able to trust that he knows the assignments pretty well and turn it loose a little bit more.

"I also am very impressed with Paul's maturity. For a young guy, he sure is poised all the time. He is never rattled, no matter the situation and he seems to be a good leader. He has control of the huddle and when he is in the huddle he does have the other players' attention, even the upperclassman."

What about Brent Rawls?

"Brent Rawls has one of the strongest arms that I have ever seen," said Hybl. "He has a real quick release and he almost throws sidearm at times. Brent has a little bit of experience and in a small way he was in the competition with Jason and me last year. So, he knows a little bit what that competition will be like.

"I think he is going to be comfortable with college ball and all the crazy things that come with it. Brent throws the deep ball really well and with his arm there isn't any passes that he can't throw.

"I really expect Brent to do well," said Hybl. "It is no secret that he has had to mature over the past year and I think he has done that. To play quarterback here, under this coaching staff, you have to be a complete quarterback, not just gifted on the field. All of the quarterbacks are gifted athletically and they can all throw the ball, but the guy who is going to win the job is the guy who knows the offensive the best; who can execute the ball the best; who can throw it well; who can read defenses the best; who is the best leader and who is a solid citizen on campus. That means you have to go to class and you have to make good grades."

"On top of all of that, you have to learn how to deal with the media and the general public. As the quarterback at Oklahoma a lot is expected of you and you have to handle it. You can't run and hide, because that would skirt you responsibility and that is not what the position is all about. I think Brent will handle the media and the general public very well. In fact, I think he would look forward to working in those two areas.

"Paul is very poised and polished in front of the media and the general public, while Brent will appeal to a totally different type of people because he is kind of a 'good-old-boy' who is kind of a down home guy. Noah Allen is like Brent in that he is from a small town and just enjoys people. So for Noah, talking and dealing with people is not going to bother him at all."

Tell us a little more about Noah Allen.

"Noah is just a gamer," said Hybl. "When I have seen him get his chance in our scrimmages and stuff he has really performed well. He just moves the ball down field. He probably reads defenses better than the other two young guys and he probably has a better feel in the pocket. Noah has a quick release and can already go to his second and third receiver. He has a strong arm, but not quite as strong as Paul and Brent, but he isn't to far off.

"From what I hear he doesn't take sacks and that is great, he is a fighter. I think he will compete his butt off. Noah may have to catch up a little to what we are doing because he was mostly the scout team quarterback for us this past season. But to be honest, he didn't look behind when he got a chance to run our offense."

So who is it going to be Nate? Who is going to lead the offense onto the field against North Texas?

"To be honest I don't know what is going to happen," said Hybl. I don't know where I will be, but I will look forward to coming back and watching these guys play."

You went through a lot of ups and downs during your three years at OU. Will the same be expected of all four quarterbacks competing for the job?

"Every person handles things differently, so I would just encourage them to enjoy the good moments," said Hybl. "They need to really understand that when you do good things that they have accomplished something. I don't think early in my career at OU that I realized that I could enjoy the good things that I did. Everybody was always pointing out all the bad things that I did and for the longest time I wasn't sure I could enjoy the good things. I also had a lot of good things happen and they will too.

"I hope the guys will win a lot of football games and most importantly get the football in the end zone, Hybl continued. "We are always going to play good defense here, so take care of the football and you will win a lot of games. I have a lot of confidence in all those guys."

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories