TCU Brings Surprise To Media Days
Patterson says new QB came out of superstition
FRISCO, Texas — TCU coach Gary Patterson didn’t bring Shawn Robinson to Big 12 media days to declare the young quarterback a starter.
“Superstitious reasons,” Patterson said Monday about having the sophomore with one career start as one of five players there for the Horned Frogs. “I kidded I didn’t bring Kenny (Hill) the first year and we went 6-7, then you bring him and we went 11-3. So I didn’t want to skip a year.”
At least Patterson brought a quarterback. Oklahoma appeared without Kyler Murray, the first-round MLB draft pick and expected successor to Baker Mayfield, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who led the Sooners to the past three Big 12 titles.
“Kyler is not the quarterback yet,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley insisted. “There is good competition going on and Kyler is going to have to fight like crazy to win this job.”
Only four of the league’s 10 teams will be represented by quarterbacks during the two-day midsummer talkfest. That includes two from Kansas State today, when West Virginia senior Will Grier is also featured. Grier is the preseason Big 12 offensive player of the year, and only returner from the league’s top six passers last year.
The only Big 12 quarterback other than Robinson answering questions Monday was Kyle Kempt, the sixth-year Iowa State player whose first career start was a 38-31 win at then-No. 3 Oklahoma last season.
“It’s been great, eye-opening,” Robinson said. “I never expected to be here at this point in time in my career.”
Kempt became an unlikely starter after Jacob Park’s midseason departure from the Cyclones, then threw 15 touchdowns in nine games with a 66.3 percent completion rate that was a single-season school record. The NCAA granted an extra season of eligibility after circumstances surrounding his transfer from Oregon State and a community college.
“I’ve grown a lot as a person,” said Kempt, who was 5-3 as a starter. “Just being able to take that, and that’s more so with the sixth year of taking that leadership role and growing physically off the field, continuing those bonds with those guys and also being a role model for the young guys that come into our program.”
Patterson didn’t bring Hill to media days two years ago, and the Frogs went 6-7 with a loss to Georgia in the Liberty Bowl. It was only their third losing record for Patterson, now going into his 18th season.
Hill was there last summer before TCU went 10-2 in the regular season, including a late win at Texas Tech that Robinson started for an injured Hill. The Frogs lost to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game before beating Stanford in the Alamo Bowl.
So Robinson got the nod for media days.
“Obviously he’s the guy that played the most games. He played in six and obviously he started, which was a hard place to play,” Patterson said. “So obviously he’s proven himself, he probably has the edge.”
The other potential candidates are a fifth-year senior with no starts, a transfer from Penn and a freshman.
Murray, also a speedy outfielder, will play football as a junior at Oklahoma this fall after getting a $4.66 million signing bonus from the Oakland Athletics after they picked him ninth overall in the MLB Draft last month.
The former Texas A&M transfer appeared in seven games last season, completing 18 of 21 passes for 359 yards and three TDs while running for 142 yards on 14 carries.
Austin Kendall, who redshirted last season after appearing in two games behind Mayfield in 2016, is a sophomore competing with Murray for the starting job.
“Both have been Baker’s backups in the last two years and they’ve been in multiple years and they’re both ready to be the starting quarterback at Oklahoma,” Riley said. “We’ve got two guys that are more than capable of getting this team where we need to be.”
Kliff Kingsbury, the former Texas Tech quarterback going into his sixth season as the Red Raiders head coach, hasn’t decided who will be Nic Shimonek’s successor this season. The options are junior McLane Carter, sophomore Jett Duffey or freshman Alan Bowman.
“This is the first fall camp I don’t know who it’s going to be so working with the quarterbacks, it’s exciting, it’s a challenge,” Kingsbury said Monday. “All very talented, they’re inexperienced players. … Each athletic, can extend plays, can do what we want them to do. We just gotta figure out who is going to extend themselves and be the guy.”