Supply Lines – Oklahoma Quarterbacks

Could Jalen Hurts be the next Oklahoma Sooners QB to take college football by storm and garner hype and buzz leading into the draft process? 

What an intriguing thought…

Hurts was the first ever victim of Tua Tagovailoa’s potential greatness, when he was benched during the National Championship game at half-time, only to see the true freshman lead the Crimson Tide to an overtime victory over Georgia to end the 2017 season.

Not something you want on your resume, or in the minds of fans. It’s the juxtaposition effect… Tagovailoa made this epic comeback and Hurts is the guy who put them in the hole to start with.

That’s pretty tough.

Then again, let’s look back to Oklahoma and then a bit of history and it may make us reconsider.

Right now, if you’re a young kid in high school and you’re a quarterback, you should want to end up as an Oklahoma Sooner, given recent history.

I mean, when I sat down to think of which schools were especially prevalent at certain positions in preparation to write this series of articles, well, this one was easy.

Oklahoma has had four, yes, *four* Heisman winning QB’s since the turn of the millennium and the two most recent winners of the award were Sooners starting quarterbacks, Baker Mayfield in 2017 and Kyler Murray last year, both of whom were the first overall pick in their draft classes.

Oklahoma also have the joint most amount of Heisman winners, ever… So they’re a pretty big deal as far as college football goes and especially so in the past decade – Norman is the place to be if you’re someone who slings the football.

If we go far enough back, Oklahoma can also lay claim to Troy Aikman since the Dallas legend started with college career in the pan handle state. That’s a lot of talent at football’s most important position. 

I’m going to start in 2010 with Sam Bradford. Jason White was the 2003 Heisman winner but oddly, he went undrafted in the 2005 NFL draft and didn’t really have an NFL career to speak of.

Side note: This really illustrates that college football is a different game to the pros. Just because you’re an excellent college QB, doesn’t necessarily translate into success at the NFL level. See, Tebow, Tim.

Bradford himself may be someone who hasn’t lived up to his lofty expectations since beating Tebow and Colt McCoy to the 2008 Heisman trophy and being taken #1 overall by the then, St. Louis Rams. But man, he was an awesome collage QB, throwing for 88 touchdowns in 31 games with only 16 interceptions.

At the time of being drafted, Bradford held both the career passing yards (8,403) and single game passing yards (468) records and he still holds the Sooners single season passing yards record (4,720), which was set in 2008. Bradford was prolific during that 2008 season, throwing for 50 touchdowns and posting a passer efficiency rating of 180.8.

After Bradford came Landry Jones.

Jones was another superb Sooner whose success didn’t translate to the NFL. Jones took over from Sam Bradford, in the 2009 season… If you hadn’t guessed already, the change was necessitated through injury to Bradford.

Although he wasn’t as prolific as Bradford in terms of touchdowns, Jones did finish the 2010 season a mere 2 yards behind Bradford’s single season yardage record, finishing with 4,718 as the Sooners won the Big 12 Championship and were victorious in the Fiesta Bowl against Connecticut under the legendary Bob Stoops.

However, despite being less talented than his predecessor, Jones has the Oklahoma career passing yards records and career touchdowns records to this day. Albeit, Jones played for 4 years to Bradford’s 3 and his records likely would have been broken had Baker Mayfield played in Norman for more than 3 seasons.

Jones was more of a Steady Eddy, with good accuracy, completion percentage and a nice TD:INT ratio through his whole collegiate career. The kinds of things that make you an excellent backup QB in the NFL – which is precisely what Jones has been… As I said last week with LSU, the supply line ticks over, it doesn’t need to supply home runs every single year.

Trevor Knight was the next starter for Oklahoma and even though he was a graduate transfer who ended up being drafted out of Texas A&M, I guess Oklahoma can still lay claim to a decent portion of his development.

Once Knight departed, the Sooners had Baker Mayfield as their starter for the Bob Stoops’ final season before Lincoln Riley took over the Head Coach duties in 2017.

And just like that, we’re back on the Heisman trail and Oklahoma became a national player again.

Mayfield is a special character and a special player in my eyes, by now everyone knows his story about walking on at Texas Tech and then again at Oklahoma. Not a lot of kids would even consider that, never mind actually pull it off.

Mayfield is an Oklahoma legend. End of story. Close it down. No need for a poll. It’s over.

Most career total touchdowns (137, 119 passing, 18 rushing) – playmaker. We know Baker is super accurate with the football and always has been – highest career passing completion percentage 69.8%. Most passing yards in a single game, 598. Five. Hundred. And. Ninety. Eight. Unreal. Baker also holds the record for most TD’s in a single game with 7. Ridiculous. All of which are Sooners records.

Personally, Mayfield is the only walk-on transfer student to win a Heisman and aside from winning the award in 2017, he was also a finalist in 2016.

The thing that sets him apart from those who I’ve mentioned previously in the article is that Mayfield seems like he is going to be a success in the NFL after an excellent rookie year.

That would be nice, wouldn’t it, Browns fans?

I have every confidence that he will only get better and better as time passes in the NFL.

For most schools, the loss of a Heisman winner would mean a dip at the quarterback position… Not for those Sooners.

Kyler Murray came along and was statistically speaking, remarkably similar to Mayfield last year. A slight uptick in total yardage, one less touchdown and one more interception. The area in which Murray excelled in comparison to Mayfield was in rushing, with Murray gaining 1,001 yards on the ground for 12 TD’s.

I’m not going to shy away from the fact I’m sceptical about Murray being a success in the NFL. However, I do think Murray and the Cardinals are going to be very interesting to watch next season.

As I said last week on the podcast, Kliff Kingsbury is going to spread it out offensively and that is going to give K1 and David Johnson much more room to gallop. Kingsbury also hand-picked Murray to pilot his offense, so he’s definitely got a plan. Keep those eyes peeled and watch this space in Arizona.

That leads us on to the current Sooners QB.

Jalen Hurts is potentially a nice mixture of Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. During his time at Alabama, Hurts wasn’t really required to throw the ball as much as he probably would have liked – which was down to the run heavy scheme that the Crimson Tide always employ. Hurts will be playing in Lincoln Riley’s spread system next year which will require him to pass the ball more frequently and will also give him more room to run. As I just mentioned with Kyler Murray in Arizona, Hurts could benefit by the same token since in his most recent full season at Alabama in 2017, he ran for 855 yards and 8 touchdowns. In his debut season in Tuscaloosa, Hurts scored 13 times on the ground and amassed 954 yards.

Yeah, Jalen Hurts can move the chains with his wheels.

Hurts has had the blueprint set out by Kyler in Lincoln Riley’s offense and let’s be perfectly frank here… The Big 12 doesn’t even play defense. Hurts is going to LIGHT IT UP. Hurts isn’t going to need to be super accurate as the system creates space for receivers and mismatches, oh… and having CeeDee Lamb and Grant Calcaterra to throw to isn’t bad either.

So if we circle back to the very top of the article, could Jalen Hurts be the next Oklahoma Sooners QB to take college football by storm and garner hype and buzz leading into the draft process?

Sit down for this… This won’t please everyone.

I think Oklahoma wins the Big 12 Championship and Hurts has a career year, setting highs in passing yardage, completion percentage and also rushes for over 1,000 yards. If he does that and the Sooners win the Big 12, they could very well be college football playoff and with that surely, surely comes Heisman consideration.

Three Heisman trophy winners in a row to take the outright lead at the top with 8 for Oklahoma. Maybe, just maybe.

 

Keep your eyes peeled next week for the next installment of Supply Lines, next week we’ll be on the offensive side of the ball.

If You want to read the previous episode of Supply Lines – LSU Cornerbacks, click here.

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