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Best Big 12 Quarterbacks Returning for 2024

Best Big 12 Quarterback

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series looking at the best-returning players by position in the Big 12.

No conference should be more closely contested this season than the Big 12. When examining the rosters top-to-bottom, the gap between the best (on paper) and worst teams is tiny. With talent gaps that are minuscule, the difference between winning and losing often will fall on who has the better quarterback. The battle for the Big 12 title will rest on the health of these top-tier quarterbacks. In a 16-team conference, does veteran leadership matter even more? Who is the Big 12 quarterback returning for the 2024 college football season?

Best Big 12 Quarterbacks Returning for 2024

Welcoming New Teams (Again)

Just like the 2023 season, the Big 12 has four new programs joining its ranks. Thanks to moves by Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark, they were able to secure four schools from the crumbling Pac-12. It will mark the first season without its previous two flag-bearing programs in Texas and Oklahoma. With so much change to the conference in the last two seasons, the focus of “returning” is defined as the quarterback is playing on the same team that they suited up for in 2023. So how many former Pac-12 quarterbacks made this list?

Third Best: Cam Rising

Possibly the most interesting storyline with Utah quarterback Cam Rising has nothing to do with the upcoming season. Rising, who started his career as an early enrollee at Texas in February 2018, is returning for his seventh season in college football. This comes after he tore his ACL in the 2022 Rose Bowl and missed all of the 2023 season. But with the recent settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the NCAA that permanently bars the organization from restricting athletes’ transfer eligibility, it also has a piece that directly impacts Rising. The NCAA must restore a year of eligibility for current athletes who missed a year of competition since 2019-20. Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham could have his quarterback for a seventh season, Rising’s eighth overall year in college football in 2025.

All AARP jokes aside, Rising has an 18-6 career record at Utah. In his last full season as a starter, Rising passed for 3,034 yards with a 64.6% completion percentage, 26 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. He was also a weapon in the rushing attack, adding 77 rushes for 465 yards and six touchdowns. Rising is the quintessential “Gamer” quarterback. There isn’t a single physical trait that makes anyone go “wow.” But when the stage is the brightest, he makes plenty of “wow” plays that lead his team to victory. Having a two-time conference championship-winning quarterback lead a team into a new conference is a good place for the Utes to be.

Second Best: Shedeur Sanders

No matter what anyone’s personal feelings are towards Colorado head coach Deion Sanders, if they state that his son Shedeur Sanders is a terrible quarterback, they are just a hater. Sure, he and his coach/dad having public spats with former players leaves a bitter taste in most folk’s mouths. But his on-the-field talent is undeniable.

In 2023, Sanders posted a 69.3% completion percentage on 430 passing attempts. He amassed 3,230 yards, 27 touchdowns, and only three interceptions. The biggest knock on Sanders is how long he holds onto the ball. How much of that was due to the fact that Sanders was playing behind an offensive line unit that was unfit to play Pac-12/Big 12 football, which is in the eye of the beholder. But seeing 111 rushing attempts for -77 yards (remember sacks count against rushing yards in college football) cannot be placed 100% at the feet of a bad offensive line.

The Best Big 12 Quarterback: Jalon Daniels

Sanders projects as possibly the top quarterback prospect for the 2025 NFL draft. But the best Big 12 quarterback for the 2024 season resides in Lawrence, Kansas. Jalon Daniels does not have the skill talent out wide to work with that Sanders does. Daniels has been the centerpiece around the miraculous turnaround Lance Leipold has done with the Jayhawk program. He is a true dual-threat quarterback orchestrating the Kansas offense.

In his last 12 games, which cover the 2022 and 2023 seasons, Daniels has a 68.2% completion percentage on 305 passing attempts. He also has 104 rushing attempts in those 12 games. Daniels has a combined 3,218 yards off offense (2,719 passing) and 30 touchdowns (23 passing). He also only threw five interceptions in that stretch. The ceiling for this program is how long Daniels can stay healthy. In his four seasons at Kansas, he has never appeared in more than nine games in one season. But when he is on the field, there isn’t a better signal caller in the Big 12 for this upcoming season.


Best Big 12 Quarterback
Photo courtesy:  Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports


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