With news that three NFL rookie quarterbacks who played in the Big 12 last season have been named starters -- Washington’s Robert Griffin III (Baylor), Miami’s Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M) and Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State) -- I wondered how many from the conference had made NFL starts.
Clicking www.football-reference several times, I came up with 11. Remember, the Big 12 opened for business in 1996, and there are other quarterbacks who appeared on NFL rosters but never made a start.
The list, by NFL starts:
50: Vince Young, Texas
40: Josh Freeman, Kansas State
26: Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
21: Colt McCoy, Texas
21: Seneca Wallace, Iowa State
16: Chris Simms, Texas
14: Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
12: Sage Rosenfels, Iowa State
8: Koy Detmer, Colorado
1: Stephen McGee, Texas A&M
1: Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech
The conference was run-game oriented in its early years. The era included players like Priest Holmes, Ahman Green, Ricky Williams, Quentin Griffin, Darren Sproles, Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles.
The early quarterbacks were as likely to win with their legs as arms – Scott Frost, Michael Bishop, Eric Crouch and Brad Smith. Vince Young did both.
The Mike Leach influence took root about half way through the league’s 16-year existence and passing numbers started to soar with changing offensive philosophies.
*For all of Leach’s success with passing offense in Lubbock, only one Tech quarterback has started an NFL game, Kliff Kingsbury with one.
*Missouri’s Smith, who holds the Big 12 record for total plays by a league quarterback, is a wide receiver in the NFL who occasionally lines up at quarterback.