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June 11, 2011If I had to rank the quarterback situation in the Big 12 right now, here's how I'd rank it:
1. Landry Jones, Oklahoma, JR, 6-4, 230
In 2010, Jones was the nation's No. 2 passer, completing 65.6 percent of his throws with 38 TDs and 12 INTs. He piled up 4,718 passing yards, just 3 shy of breaking Sam Bradford's OU single-season record. He had 2 interceptions that led to 10 Missouri points in a 36-27 loss in Columbia.
But his 1 interception on the road in a 33-19 loss to Texas A&M was a Hail Mary as time expired at the half. Nine of his 12 INTs came on the road, so he can still clean things up. Having WR Ryan Broyles back to spread the field and four returning offensive linemen won't hurt.
2. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State, SR, 6-4, 213
All Weeden did was come into Stillwater and make people forget about Zac Robinson. It helped to have Justin Blackmon to throw to. But Blackmon was lucky to have Weeden as well. Weeden completed 66.9 percent of his passes with 34 TDs and 13 interceptions.
Even after losing Dana Holgorsen as OC and picking up Todd Monken as OC, who runs a similar system (and worked with Brian Kelly at Grand Valley State back in the day), I think Weeden is nails. He has all five starters back on the O-line as well as Blackmon and RBs Joseph Randle (82 carries for 452 yds, 5.5 ypc, 1 TD) and Jeremy Smith (56 carries for 262 yds, 4.7 ypc, 7 TDs) to help keep his offense flowing.
3. Robert Griffin III, Baylor, JR, 6-2, 220
Griffin is a winner. He opened his college career in 2008 with an NCAA freshman record 209 passes without an interception. Coming off an ACL tear that caused him to miss most of 2009, he helped lead Baylor to its first bowl game since 1994 in 2010. Believe it or not, Griffin has a better completion rate (67 percent) than any returning QB in the conference.
He's also got the legs to do some damage, having rushed for 635 yards last season. He will get marked down because he plays on a team with a bad defense. But if you put Griffin on a complete team, he's a monster. And he has one of the best receivers in the country in junior Kendall Wright (78 catches for 952 yards and 7 TDs).
4. Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M, SR, 6-4, 219
After Jerrod Johnson either self-destructed or could not overcome his off-season (throwing) shoulder surgery before the 2010 season, Tannehill proved he is a winner. He only started half the season because Johnson started the first six games.
And his 13 TDs with 6 INTs are modest numbers, but he just made the plays he needed to make or didn't make the big mistake in victories over OU, Nebraska and Texas in a 9-4 season. He has Jeff Fuller back to throw to and Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael to tote the rock as well as four returning starters on the O-line. Players like that should help Tannehill look good for an entire season in 2011.
5. Garrett Gilbert, Texas, JR, 6-4, 218
Gilbert can prove last year was about a failed plan on offense and the subsequent erosion of his confidence as opposed to a total failure by the quarterback. Any turnaround is predicated on him mastering Bryan Harsin's offense over the summer. Gilbert was a big-time winner in high school who turned into a turnover machine as a redshirt freshman.
If he wins the job as expected, there's nowhere to go but up after throwing for 10 TDs with 17 INTs, including 5 INTs vs. Kansas State; 3 INTs vs. Iowa State; 3 INTs at Texas Tech; 2 INTs vs Texas A&M; and 1 INT that led to a late, game-winning touchdown for Baylor in a loss in Austin.
Gilbert needs playmakers to emerge around him - a real problem last year. Every quarterback in the Big 12 ranked ahead of him has known playmakers and a proven O-line returning.
6. James Franklin, Missouri, SO, 6-2, 225
The bottom half of the conference is breaking in new QBs, including Missouri, who got a nice spring out of Franklin, the backup to Blaine Gabbert last year. Franklin was 11 of 14 in limited action last season (78.6 percent) with 1 TD pass and 1 INT. The Tigers have all three of their top receivers and three top running backs returning, which should help Franklin.
7. Seth Doege, Texas Tech, JR, 6-1, 200
Doege is a little more of a dual-threat than strong-armed Taylor Potts, who graduated after last season. Tech lost Lyle Leong and Detron Lewis, its top two receiving targets from last year (they combined for nearly 1,800 yards and 25 touchdowns).
But four experienced WRs return, including Alex Torres (39 catches for 481 yards) and Austin Zouzalik (31 catches for 432 yards 2 TDs). Baron Batch is gone, but Eric Stephens and a talented group of freshmen RBs should be able to help Doege under Tommy Tuberville.
8. Justin Tuggle, Kansas State, JR, 6-3, 227
Tuggle is the son of former Atlanta Falcons LB Jesse Tuggle and is already drawing comparisons to former K-State star QB Michael Bishop. Tuggle was the QB at Blinn Junior College, succeeding Cam Newton last season.
Tuggle spent his freshman season at Boston College in 2009 and hit 13 of 37 passes (35.1 percent) for 229 yards and 4 TDs with 3 INTs. Last season, Tuggle led Blinn to an 8-3 record after Newton led Blinn to the NJCAA national title.
9. Jerome Tiller, Iowa State, JR, 6-3, 200
Tiller was the backup the past two seasons behind Austen Arnaud, who finished at Iowa State as the school's No. 2 career passer and a 3-year starter. But Tiller will have to fend off junior college transfer Steele Jantz (6-3, 216), who could surprise everyone after coaches said the QB position was wide open after the spring.
10. Brock Berglund, Kansas, FR, 6-4, 205
Berglund is a dual-threat QB who could be just what Kansas' OC Chuck Long and coach Turner Gill need to get an anemic offense jump-started from last season's 3-9 debacle. Berglund will have to beat out sophomore Jordan Webb, who started all of last season, completing 56.5 percent of his passes with 7 TDs and 8 INTs.