Throughout Mark Mangino's career, he has struggled to find a QB. Either his starter struggled with injuries (Bill Whittemore and Kerry Meier) or he simply didn't have one good enough to run the system (Adam Barmann), but the situation only seemed to work itself out once. We had quite a run under Whittemore in 2003, but before last season never did we have an entire season of completely healthy, completely competent QB play. Finally, last season, we were given a tremendous QB that stayed healthy last season and look what happened.
On any college team across the country, the most important player is the QB. Todd Reesing is the clear leader of the team, and one of the better quarterbacks in all of college football, no matter what Phil Steele says (he had him rated as the 40th best QB; Josh Freeman was 37th). There is a case to be made that this is the most confident Kansas fans have been in a signal caller in a helluva long time. I'm talking 30-some-odd years. Plus, he is only a junior, meaning that Hot Toddy has two more years on campus. Still, with the Kansas football program on the upswing, Ed Warriner's offensive system will almost always demand a playmaker at the QB position. Sparky's replacement may be on campus or he may not, but regardless of where he comes from, he will need to show himself. Finding the heir apparent to Todd Reesing is priority number one for Mark Mangino and Company over the next two years, before Hot Toddy graduates.
Now, if the next Kansas starting QB has yet to slip inside a Jayhawk jersey, he will be discussed a little later on in the preview. For now, though, I am going to take a look at the current options on our roster; those who would be called upon to fill in for an injured Todd Reesing.
But first, really quick, here is a look at the projected QB depth chart for the next three years.
|QB1||Todd Reesing (JR)||Todd Reesing (SR)||Kale Pick (rsSO)|
|QB2||Kerry Meier (rsJR)||Kerry Meier (rsSR)||Tyler Lawrence (SR)|
|QB3||Tyler Lawrence (SO)||Tyler Lawrence (JR)||Jordan Webb (rsFR)|
|QB4||Kale Pick (FR)||Kale Pick (rsFR)||Recruit|
-- Italics means that they will redshirt that year (all by my projections, of course)
With that said, here is a more in-depth look at all four current quarterbacks on our roster.
Todd Reesing :: #5 :: Junior :: QB1
When you are going through the favorite Kansas players of all time, you'd have to think that Hot Toddy would be way up in the rankings. I'm talking way up, too. Like, Top 3. He isn't one of the most talented players ever in Kansas history, but he is perfect for the system that we run, and he couldn't have come at a more perfect time. Plus, his whole recruiting-video-sent-to-Mangino-through-a-family-friend story, when we beat out the traditional football power that is Duke for his commitment, makes a much better story than the prized (relative for Kansas at the time, that is) little-brother-of-a-Big-12-QB the Meier story would have been. Honestly, I don't even think that he would be that successful at Texas. I know that saying such a thing is like blasphemy, but their current Offensive Coordinator, Greg Davis, has shown virtually zero ability to change gameplans based off of personnel, and he wouldn't have fit in nearly as well in that system. Plus, more people than you would think (re: vast majority) still think that the life-saving Colt McCoy is a much better QB. So, he would have likely just sat on the bench, looking fly in that burnt orange and picking up co-eds left and right. But don't you think, by now, that he would realize that things worked out for the best in the end, and that he would be grateful that things worked out like he did.
But I bet he doesn't. Sure, he appreciates that he is at Kansas and everything, and now that he is a known name across the country, but I assume that he still wishes Mack Brown would have offered him; that he still, at times, pictures himself in that hideous burnt orange. And that's what makes him so great. He thinks, right or wrong, that he could go down to Austin and show up Colt McCoy and everyone else there. No, that's not right. He knows it. He knows that he is the best QB in the Big XII, hell, forget the conference, let's start talking about the country. That confidence is exactly the infusion this Kansas program needed. I know, I know, I am spending way too much time on some intangible thing that helped us reach 12-1 last season. But as good as Kerry Meier is, and he is certainly a better athlete and a better pure prospect in terms of quarterbacking, Sparky is the perfect fit for this team. Not only for the scheme, which we will talk about, but for the attitude. For years, the University of Kansas football program has been trashed and trampled upon, treated as the little brother to an entire conference of big, bad bullies (well, except Baylor). Todd Reesing changed that attitude. Not by himself, and he wasn't even necessarily the leader (that would fall on the Big Man, who started this sticking-up-for-yourself thing all the way back in 2004, with the Freeman Johns game), but he was the other voice in the locker room Mangino needed to make his point clear. And so, because last season was the best in Kansas history, when selecting my favorite Jayhawk of all time, I'll go with one Todd Reesing.
OK, the love affair is over. I promise. No more incredibly romantic speeches about Sparky's incredible leadership. I promise. Looking at him from a statistical, objective perspective, he figures to be every bit as good this season as he was last. In fact, despite the loss of some of his weapons in Brandon McAnderson and Marcus Henry, he should be even better this season. You have your pretty standard extra year of experience, of course, but then you also have a likely drop in INTs (he threw 3 of his INTs in one game last season; @ KSU in his first road start) and a full-time Kerry Meier at WR. However, the major detractor in a potential increase in stats is the issue of the offensive tackles. We have the starters figured out (Spikes at LT, Hatch at RT), but both are incredibly inexperienced and, honestly, who the hell knows how they will play. So much of what made Toddy great last season was the time he bought in the pocket; and in order to have the same stats he will have to be even better at avoiding pass rushers.
Still, despite all of this worry about how good he will be and all that, he is as close to a sure thing as we have on this football team. We know we won't get the rocket throws 40 yards down the field, but what we will get is accuracy, quick-thinking, some dual-threat action and some spark.
Kerry Meier :: # 10 :: rsJunior :: QB2
The Kansas Jayhawks are one of the few teams in college football to have their backup to have been a starter for most of a season. As good and talented as the crop of QBs Missouri has, for instance, they only have one (Chase Daniel, of course) who has ever started a game. Kansas has two. This experience certainly has a role in our ability to freelance him over at WR; because of his prior playing time is there to call back on, he wouldn't need as much preparation time were Todd Reesing to go down. We will discuss Meier's impact on the WR position in that preview, but for now let's just look at his potential impact at the QB position, were a disaster to happen.
Meier will not serve as the emergency quarterback, and were Reesing to go down to injury in the middle of the game Tyler Lawrence would be the likely replacement. However, were it a injury forcing him to miss the next week's game, Meier would be the guy after a week of practice solely at the QB position.
Were he to see consistent playing time, I would expect a happy medium between full-time 2006 Kerry (56.5 comp%, 13 TD, 10 INT, 3.4 YPC) and blowout-time 2007 Kerry Meier (86.2 comp%, 3 TD, 0 INT, 5.2 YPC). The '07 version no dobut benefited from a couple of things: a) Playing against second-team defenses who might not be giving it their all, and b) Complete lack of pressure because of the vast differences in score. Still, a lot of that progress can be attributed to a couple of other things; things that would support the belief that Meier is a much better QB now than he was in 2006, despite essentially no 'meaningful' snaps in between. For one, he had that whole competition last season with Hot Toddy for the starting job, and it isn't a secret that competition sometimes brings out the best in some players. For two, he has had two spring practice sessions and two fall practice sessions, two of which he was exclusively a QB and the other two he has split about 50/50 between QB and WR. That is a lot of time to soak in, to learn, and to become a better football player. Still, if the staff expected him to complete upwards of 80% of his passes throughout a season, I'm pretty sure he would be our starter, and even in limited duty he shouldn't be expected to complete that high of a percentage again.
But, when push comes to shove, he is about as good as backup quarterbacks come if you aren't pulling a 5-STAR every year; a solid, dependable, (somewhat) proven option that is freaky athletic. I'll take it as QB2.
Tyler Lawrence :: #17 :: Sophomore :: QB3
Tyler Lawrence, or Ty Law as he will forever be referred to here at RCT, is your standard, prototypical, non-Kerry Meier type reserve QB. A smart, cerebral type of guy, he was the lone player of the trio that signalled in audibles to Todd Reesing from the sideline. He wasn't exactly a high-profile recruit, and isn't exactly a possessor of incredible, world-class talent, but he would do 'enough' in a pinch. Basically, here is this kid's role on the team: don't screw up on the signals and, were Todd Reesing to actually get hurt (hard for me to believe too), not lose the game by chucking a kajillion interceptions. He is your typical 'game manager', from everything I've read about him, that doesn't possess a good arm but does possess a good mind. For serious.
In all seriousness, he is a solid guy to have on your team, just in case. Plus, it enables us to redshirt more promising prospects in the future, without the worry of being left without any in-game options (of course Reesing's redshirt was pulled at halftime of that game against Colorado, so who knows). Prospects like Kale Pick.
Kale Pick :: #19 :: Freshman :: QB4/RS
I. Love. Kale. Pick. For serious, my money is on the ex-Arkansas commit to be our future QB. His videos are insane, and he reminds me a lot of...Todd Reesing. Of course, that is Todd Reesing plus a cannon right arm that can drop in deep balls. This whole discussion is for another day, when we discuss Reesing's successor (likely next offseason), and his role this season figures to be negligible. I mean, I suppose with Mangino's whole "the best players will play no matter what" it is conceivable that, if Reesing shits the bed he could see the some time, but the chances of that are about .000001%, mathematically speaking. And so, there is little left to say about Kale Pick.
I fully endorse him redshirting this season, even though he has been on campus since January as an early High School graduate, simply for future eligibility reasons. A redshirt year this year plus another year of learning next season, Reesing's senior year, gives Pick three years of eligibility left to use if he does win the starting job.
Editor's Note: I apologize for getting this out so late. However, I won't take a week to do each one of these from here on out. They are going to start coming out a lot quicker...I promise.