Big 12's top 10 quarterbacks for '14
JUN 05, 2014 1:14a ET
No league has a better quarterback tradition than the Big 12 over the past 10 years, but last year's batch was inexperienced, and the result was one of the position's weaker years in the conference in quite awhile.
This time around, every Big 12 team has a quarterback with substantial starting experience, which should mean higher quality play. The top four players on this list are all budding stars, and the three behind Petty, who finished seventh in Heisman voting last year, could be due for breakout seasons on a national level.
Could a player from the bottom half of the list surprise? If that happens, my money is on Matt Joeckel.
Here are the Big 12's top 10 quarterbacks. Each team is represented by my pick to begin the season as starter.
1. Bryce Petty, Baylor: Petty doesn't have much competition for the No. 1 spot for now. The reigning Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year threw for 32 scores and ran for 14 more with just three interceptions. His quarterback rating was nearly 18 points higher than any QB in the league.
2. Davis Webb, Texas Tech: Not many true freshmen close their first seasons with five 385-yard games in their final six games, but Webb further built Kliff Kingsbury's reputation as a quarterback guru. Case Keenum and Johnny Manziel aren't the only guys on Kingsbury's resume anymore. Webb completed at least 62 percent of his passes in his final six games and gives Tech a fighting chance at sneaking into the league title race.
3. Jake Waters, Kansas State: Waters gets a big boost by throwing to the Big 12's best receiver, Tyler Lockett. He got off to a bit of a rocky start (buttfumble!) in 2013, but by the end of the year, he was showing why he was so coveted coming out of junior college. He threw 10 touchdowns and four picks in the final four games of the season and averaged nearly 10 yards per attempt.
4. Trevor Knight, Oklahoma: Consider me skeptical of all the Heisman buzz surrounding Knight this season. I feel like a broken record this offseason, but truth is truth: Knight is better than the guy who couldn't complete 50 percent of his passes combined against Louisiana-Monroe and WVU and got benched after a knee injury. He's also not as good as the guy who tossed four TDs and completed 72 percent of his passes for 348 yards against Alabama. The latter is a major encouragement, but it doesn't make the former irrelevant. Knight may be due for a breakout year, but he's got to show some more consistency before he moves up this list.
5. J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State: Walsh doesn't have the prettiest throwing motion, but he's the best runner on this list and is more accurate than he gets credit for on intermediate throws. Brandon Weeden he is not, but his running ability gives OSU an additional offensive dimension that can make life difficult for defenses. He'll run plenty of zone read alongside Rennie Childs and Desmond Roland.
6. David Ash, Texas: The durability concerns are well-documented and for good reason. A rib injury at the end of 2012 hampered him in an ugly loss to TCU and sidelined him to close the regular season against K-State. Concussions cost him 10 games in 2013 and a broken bone in his foot meant he missed most of Charlie Strong's first spring. Too many people remember his failures as a freshman, when he was forced to play before he was ready. He grew up a lot in 2012, and if he can stay healthy, he'll get a chance to show this fall how much he's grown in the mental side of the game. If he's not healthy, though, Texas will probably turn to incoming true freshman Jerrod Heard. He has the potential to move as high as No. 2 on this list, but it's been too long since we've seen him look like a truly great player.
7. Matt Joeckel, TCU: Folks around Texas A&M weren't high on Joeckel, but the Aggies transfer is a solid option at QB and an upgrade at the position for TCU. His arrival should allow Trevone Boykin to move to receiver, and he's a balanced passer who should be able to consistently move the chains for the Frogs in Doug Meacham's new offense.
8. Grant Rohach, Iowa State: Rohach showed some major growth after taking over the starting spot at the end of 2013. Other than Trevor Knight vs. OU, Rohach's efforts in a comeback win over West Virginia did more to change my mind about a player in one single game than I can remember in a long while. He also completed 75 percent of his passes for 300 yards while playing on an ice rink against Kansas. He's still got a lot to prove, but there's tons of potential in him that ISU fans can look forward to seeing realized soon.
9. Clint Trickett, West Virginia: Nobody's questioning Trickett's toughness after taking hit after hit down the stretch last season. Those took a toll on his 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame and required shoulder surgery at the end of the year. (Yuck.) Nobody stepped in to swipe his starter status while he sat out this spring. He's ambitious and loves to throw it down the field, which can work against him at times, but don't forget he was the guy who carried the Mountaineers to their only two legitimate wins last season, and he sat when WVU was rolled by Kansas. Also, he's got the best hair in college football. So he's got that going for him, which is nice.
10. Montell Cozart, Kansas: Cozart was named KU's starter this offseason, officially replacing Jake Heaps, who appears ready to transfer for the second time in his career. His mobility allows KU to do a little more on offense, but he hasn't shown an ability to consistently complete passes and if his accuracy doesn't improve, KU will once again find it difficult to move the ball on offense.