Exit Baker Mayfield. Enter Kyler Murray.
That’s the situation for Oklahoma football heading into the 2018 season as the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner makes his way out of Norman, Okla. and into the pros. The torch has now all but been passed on to Murray — the former Texas A&M quarterback who served as a backup to Mayfield one season ago with the Sooners.
With his time to shine now just six months away, there’s one question all Oklahoma football fans have on their minds: Can Murray keep up the pace that was set by Mayfield the last three seasons?
Cutting to the chase, one Dallas-based sportswriter says maybe not.
Adam Grosbard of the Dallas Morning News, in a round-table discussion, wrote that Murray could struggle to keep up with the competition in the Big 12, noting TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson and Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer — both rising sophomores — as the biggest potential hurdles for Murray and co.
“Of the young quarterbacks making their first full season as starters in the Big 12 this year, I’m lowest on Murray. He’s not going to be Baker Mayfield, nor does he have to be, but I’m just not sure that he’s going to be able to compete with guys like Shawn Robinson and Charlie Brewer in the Big 12.”
A revamped group of Big 12 quarterbacks
Murray was originally recruited by Texas A&M as a five star prospect after a phenomenal run with Dallas-area Allen High School, but hasn’t seen much playing time since leaving College Station. He was forced to sit out the 2016 season due to NCAA transfer policies before making just one start in 2017 — in place of Mayfield for the opening series vs. West Virginia as a result of disciplinary action taken against the Sooners signal-caller.
Murray saw playing time late in several other contests when the outcome was out of question, in addition to a brief appearance in the Rose Bowl. He finished the 2017 season with 359 passing yards and 3 touchdowns after making an appearance in seven games.
Shawn Robinson, TCU QB
Shifting the scene to the Lone Star State, TCU is set to have a new face taking the snaps in 2018 after the departure of quarterback Kenny Hill. Robinson — who was recruited by the Horned Frogs as a four-star prospect — won a Texas state title with DeSoto High School in 2016 and was one of the top dual threat quarterbacks in his entire class. He made one start for TCU in 2017 — in place of an injured Hill against Texas Tech. He passed for 85 yards and touchdown on top of 84 rushing yards in a 27-3 win.
It is possible, however, that freshman Justin Rogers could give Robinson some competition for the starting job. Rogers, rated the No. 3 dual threat quarterback in the Class of 2018, enrolled early at TCU in January after inking his commitment during the early signing period in December 2017. Coach Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs could be cautious though, as Rogers sustained a knee injury last fall that saw him miss virtually his entire senior season at Parkway High School in Bossier City, La. Regardless, TCU has no shortage of young, dual-threat quarterback to use on the gridiron.
Charlie Brewer, Baylor QB
Even further south along Interstate-35 in Waco, Baylor is coming off a dreadful 1-11 season, but appears to have found its future quarterback in the form of Brewer. Brewer, who was recruited out of Mayfield’s alma mater of Lake Travis High School (Austin, Texas) as a three-star prospect — was named the Big 12 Co-Offensive freshman of the year in 2017 for his efforts with the Bears. Brewer didn’t see any playing time until late September, but finished out the season with 1,562 passing yards and 11 touchdowns over the course of 8 games played.
Clearly, Brewer saw the most playing time of all three quarterbacks during the 2017 season. The Bears have a lot of work to do in returning to the dominance they showed several seasons ago, but the No. 4 2018 recruiting class in the Big 12 is certainly a step in the right direction.
All three have plenty of potential to make their mark on the college football landscape in 2018. We’ll find out who is the leader once September arrives. And if Murray has learned anything from his predecessor, perhaps he can use the low opinions as just more motivation to excel in Norman.