1. TCU: The Horned Frogs don’t really know what they have as backup, but when your starter is Trevone Boykin it may not matter. (For the record, sophomore Zach Allen is Boykin’s caddy.) Boykin, who was a marginal FBS quarterback his first two seasons, miraculously exploded onto the scene as a junior, winning Big 12 Offensive MVP honors, to go along with a slew of second-team All-America notice. He goes into 2015 a prime Heisman candidate. Of course, last year could have been a fluke, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
2. Texas Tech: What the Frogs may lack in depth at quarterback, is a strength for the Red Raiders. Davis Webb, a junior who’s probably good enough to start for most Big 12 teams, is a 14-game starter with certain NFL characteristics, including a big gun. But again, he’s not even the presumptive starter. That would be sophomore Patrick Mahomes who blew everybody away with his performances late in 2014. If he’s as good as he looked down the stretch, he could have the sort of season Boykin had in 2014.
3. Iowa State: Paul Rhoads may not have much to shout about at Iowa State—not that that will stop him—but in Sam B. Richardson and Grant Rohach, he has two very solid and experienced signal callers in the fold. Richardson quietly emerged as one of the conference’s better quarterbacks last season, demonstrating respectable accuracy and judgment, as well as decent wheels and good leadership ability. Rohach, a junior, started four games as a freshman and played in two others last year. He’s good insurance.
4. Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State’s quarterback situation somewhat resembles Texas Tech’s. Daxx Garman was an adequate starter last season until felled by an injury late. Enter freshman Mason Rudolph who promptly threw for 281 yards against Baylor and led the Cowboys to a huge, come-from-behind road upset of Oklahoma. He finished the season with a 154 passing efficiency rating and looks to be Mike Gundy’s man for 2015.
5. Oklahoma: The Sooners don’t have a quarterback that really wows anybody, but in Cody Thomas, Baker Mayfield and Trevor Knight, they have a three-headed beast that should be more than adequate, provided new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley can find enough footballs to go ‘round. Knight has the experience, and is a good runner, but an inconsistent passer at best. Thomas started three games late last season and underwhelmed. Mayfield, a former walk-on and starter at Texas Tech, may actually be the favorite to win the job.
6. Baylor: Not much more is known about expected starter Seth Russell than was known about Bryce Petty before he took over for Robert Griffin III. Gulp. Based upon stats and experience alone, there’s no real reason to rate the Bears too highly in this category, but given the Bears’ recent track record under Art Briles, it would be foolish to expect Russell to be anything less than adequate. The unknown Chris Johnson waits in the wings behind Russell.
7. Texas: Junior Tyrone Swoopes certainly didn’t make anybody forget Vince Young or Colt McCoy or even Major Applewhite, last season. But he wasn’t a complete bust either, recording a respectable passing efficiency rating of 116. But unless he improves, the ceiling on offense for the Horns is fairly low. Redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard, a highly touted dual-threat quarterback, will be given every opportunity to unseat Swoopes.
8. West Virginia: Who knows what Dana Holgorsen has cooking at quarterback up in Morgantown? Presumed starter Skyler Howard, a 6-foot junior from Fort Worth, has played in only four D1 games, starting only two. And while his passing efficiency rating of 138 is fairly impressive, it’s based upon a statistical sample that is too small to mean much. Howard also carried the ball 22 times, averaging 6.4 yards per tote, so he may have decent wheels. Howard’s backup, redshirt freshman William Crest, is even more obscure.
9. Kansas: Michael Cummings, Kansas’ 5-foot-10 senior quarterback, was only average as a starter in 2014, but by Jayhawk standards, that’s pretty darned good. He did throw for 332 yards against an excellent TCU defense, but his passing efficiency rating for the season was a so-so 122. Alas, Cummings suffered a significant enough knee injury in the spring game to require surgery. His status for next season is unknown. Backup Montell Cozart has some experience, but not much else.
10. Kansas State: In Jesse Ertz and Joe Hubener, Bill Snyder has two tall, swift and rather inexperienced quarterbacks. At this point—KSU’s offense reportedly struggled in the spring—neither is of Jake Waters’ caliber, let alone Colin Klein’s. Then again, never discount Snyder’s ability to work wonders. He will find a way to maximize his quarterback’s strengths and cover up his weaknesses.