No preseason Heisman hype for Big 12 quarterbacks
Quick, name a Big 12 quarterback being mentioned as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
Sam Bradford is now in the NFL after the 2008 Heisman winner’s injury-shortened time at Oklahoma. So is Colt McCoy, a two-time Heisman finalist who set the NCAA record with 45 victories at Texas.
Zac Robinson? Todd Reesing? Nope, they’re gone too after becoming the most prolific passers at their schools and helping Oklahoma State and Kansas get into the Top 10.
“A few years ago, we had the perfect storm with quarterbacks,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “I always said at that time it was hard to imagine that any league could have the number of high-level quarterbacks that there were. I think it’s a little bit more typical now.”
This season, most of the Big 12 quarterbacks are relative unknowns outside the conference _ and sometimes even outside their own schools.
That is much different from past years, when the likes of Bradford, McCoy, Chase Daniel, Graham Harrell, Brad Smith and Vince Young created plenty of national preseason hype.
“From a competitor’s standpoint, I’m a little excited about it that we don’t have those high-profile guys to worry about and lose sleep over,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said.
Texas coach Mack Brown is careful to separate experience from talent.
“We’ve got some great quarterbacks maybe that haven’t played as much as that little run on quarterbacks we had,” he said. “But I think at the end of the year we’ll be talking about how great this quarterback group is.”
There is dynamic dual-threat quarterback Robert Griffin at Baylor. But he is coming back from right knee surgery that limited him to only three games last year after his sensational freshman season in 2008 (2,934 total yards, 28 touchdowns).
Coach Art Briles won’t be able to blow the whistle Saturday night to keep Sam Houston State defenders from tackling Griffin, who got a medical redshirt and is still considered a sophomore.
“When he’s out there and the bullets are live, he’ll know how to respond,” Briles said. “Robert has good instincts and great talents to go with it.”
The league’s most experienced starters are Iowa State’s Austen Arnaud and Texas A&M’s Jerrod Johnson. Both seniors have started 23 games.
The 6-foot-5 Johnson, a receiver before being moved back to quarterback, led the Big 12 with 314 total yards per game and threw 30 touchdowns last season. But the Aggies still had a losing season.
The Longhorns’ Garrett Gilbert got shoved onto the national stage after McCoy got hurt on the first drive of the BCS national championship game. Gilbert threw the only two TDs _ and only four interceptions _ of his freshman season going 15-of-40 passing against Alabama.