With the college football season openers just around the corner, we take a look at the most compelling transfer-related storylines within the Big 12.
Texas lands former top recruit Quinn Ewers
Ewers begins his career in Austin with a ton of hype. Despite enrolling a cycle early, Ewers was the top prospect in the 2021 recruiting class and is regarded as one of the best quarterback recruits in recent history. He has the arm talent, measurables and physical abilities that point to superstardom.
The question is this: Will he be able to take advantage of his situation? If so, how long does that take? Texas hosts Alabama in week two before taking on a talented UTSA squad in week three and traveling to Lubbock for a Big 12 matchup against Texas Tech at the end of September. There’s not a ton of room for error for the former five-star.
Fortunately for Ewers, he has some elite skill talent at his disposal. Bijan Robinson is arguably the best running back in the nation and a likely first-round draft selection next April. Xavier Worthy is an electrifying wideout that is coming off a monster freshman campaign. Former five-star athlete Ja’Tavion Sanders looks primed to make an impact at tight end.
Ewers is one of the most intriguing players in the nation as the college football season prepares to kick off. How he performs under Steve Sarkisian with the Longhorns will be one of the top storylines to follow this fall.
Dillon Gabriel is next up at Oklahoma
Oklahoma has a successful history of quarterback play with the likes of Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts starring for the Sooners in recent years. Although quarterback guru Lincoln Riley is off to USC, Dillon Gabriel has an opportunity to be the next in line in Norman.
Gabriel arrives at Oklahoma after putting up big numbers in Orlando for UCF. He established himself as one of the best Group of Five passers in the nation. Additionally, he has experience playing – and thriving – in Sooners offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby’s system. That familiarity should pay off dividends as OU looks to win another Big 12 title.
The Sooners are not lacking in talent surrounding Gabriel. Wide receiver Marvin Mims has flashed stardom in spurts in Norman. The opportunity is there for five-star wideout Theo Wease to truly break out onto the scene and Jalil Farooq is another weapon that has the ability to emerge.
At running back, Eric Gray returns to a loaded group. First-year rusher Jovantae Barnes has drawn rave reviews in fall camp. Redshirt junior Marcus Major has impressed, too, and looks set to have a strong upcoming season. Freshman Gavin Sawchuck is oozing with potential.
Gabriel gives Brent Venables an established signal caller with some upside to build around in his first year as the man in charge. The Sooners are looking to get back to AT&T Stadium after missing out on the conference title game in 2021.
Change of scenery for Adrian Martinez
Adrian Martinez arrived at Nebraska with a ton of hype. A former Rivals100 prospect, Martinez has proven to be an electric talent behind center that can hurt defenses with his arm and his legs. That versatility makes him a headache for defenses to defend when he is hitting on all cylinders.
Martinez had many bright moments in Lincoln, but he also had his fair share of struggles while playing for the Cornhuskers. He threw for 8,491 yards with a 45 to 30 touchdown-interception ratio during four seasons in the Big Ten.
Now at Kansas State, a fresh start could be just what the doctor ordered for the signal caller. Martinez was named a team captain for the Wildcats ahead of the 2022 season, and early indications are that he is fitting in well in Manhattan.
The ceiling of a Martinez and Deuce Vaughn backfield is sky-high. The two players have the chance to be one of the most fun and dynamic tandems in the Big 12 – if not the country – this fall.
Kansas aiming to take the next step
Kansas head coach Lance Leipold wasted no time adding talent to the Jayhawks’ program since taking over in Lawrence. The Jayhawks brought in a massive transfer portal haul during the offseason, headlined by potential All-Big 12 safety Marvin Grant, who comes over from Purdue.
Leipold has the challenge of taking Kansas to that next step. The Jayhawks pulled off a thrilling victory over Texas on the road in overtime last season. That could be the turning point for the program – if Kansas can use that as a jumpstart.
Quarterback Jalon Daniels was electric in that win over the Longhorns in Austin. He is a dynamic player behind center with his ability to make an impact through the air and on the ground.
Fresh start for JT Daniels
Daniels began last season as the man behind center in Athens for the Bulldogs. A season-opening injury against Clemson knocked him out of action for the majority of the 2021 season, and Stetson Bennett took advantage of his opportunity. Now, the 2018 blue-chip passer has the opportunity to find his footing in Neal Brown’s offense with the Mountaineers.
West Virginia is expected to name Daniels the starter for the season, setting the stage for Daniels to show what he can do in Morgantown. Daniels has familiarity with offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, so there should not be too much of a learning curve.
Injuries have plagued Daniels since skipping his senior season at Mater Dei High (Santa Ana, Calif.) and enrolling in college a year early. If healthy, he has the talent to make some noise in the Big 12.