What does TCU's Andy Dalton, Florida's Tim Tebow, Houston's Case Keenum, Texas' Colt McCoy, and Alabama's Greg McElroy all have in common? Their quarterback ratings are below SMU true freshman Kyle Padron's. With 41 attempts against Nevada, the Southlake Carroll product qualified for the nations quarterback rating. Padron currently sits in 4th, behind Boise State's Kellen Moore, Notre Dame's Jimmy Claussen, and BYU's Max Hall. All were returning starters this season.
"There was really anything new from him in this game, but just more of it," said SMU offensive coordinator Dan Morrison.
Padron set a SMU record for a single game with 460 yards passing. His 188.4 passer rating in the bowl game and his 159.9 season efficiency rating for the season is second SMU history.
"I'm just getting a little more comfortable in the offense and in the game. I'm really just learning what I have to adapt to," sad the freshman after the game. "The defense is so much faster up here. I think I have come a long way, but there is still stuff I need to work on."
Coming into the season, it was a 50/50 chance that Padron would play. June Jones wanted to get him experience, but did not want to just waste his red-shirt. In game seven of the season, Jones had no choice. Returning starter Bo Levi Mitchell went down with a shoulder injury and the true freshman was throw in the fire on the road.
As a starter, Padron finished the season 5-1 overall. On two different occasions, he aired it out for more than 300 yards.
"He has really showed a lot of poise from right in the beginning. He has a lot of escape-ability and movement around the pocket, something you need at this level, and he is pretty accurate," stated Dan Morrison to PonyStampede.com. "He really takes care of the ball and doesn't really throw many interceptions."
At 4th in the nation in quarterback rating, Padron is 22 spots better than any other freshman. Stanford's Andrew Luck is No. 26, but the Cardinal's signal-caller red-shirted last season.
"He has a very good set of eyes, he is very intelligent, and he is very accurate. You grow in this offense," said Morrison. "There is just a point where you have to think your way through it and process it. There is also another point where you and the offense just become the say. I don't know if he is at that point yet, but he is definitely getting there."
Whle the season hasn't been over for even a week, SMU fans now turn their attention to spring practices. The SMU coaches are not publically announcing Padron as the team's No. 1 headed into the spring, but his play over the last six games has made him the front runner.
"We don't really get caught up in that. We will get everyone equal reps or close to equal reps, to try to get everyone ready. It's not something we announce or anything," said Morrison. "We just go in and do it. With this offense, you need two to three kids ready to go in and win. They are the center piece."
"I'm excited. In Coach Jones' offense, anything is possible. You really chuck the ball around," said Padron. "The future should be exciting."