- By Suzanne Halliburton American-Statesman Staff
Coming into preseason camp, the Baylor quarterback situation was thought to be one of the most secure in a league with a ton of questions about the glamour job at just about every other school.
Charlie Brewer, the Big 12 coaches’ choice for co-offensive freshman of the year last season, ended 2017 as Baylor’s starter and owned the job throughout spring practices. But Bears coach Matt Rhule said Monday that he probably won’t make a quarterback decision until Friday night, the night before Baylor kicks off its season against Abilene Christian.
Rhule stressed that it wasn’t anything that Brewer, a former Lake Travis standout, did wrong. Rather, it was the August performance of Jalan McClendon, a senior transfer from North Carolina State.
“I feel so good about that position that I think it would be a disservice to any of them, really to any position, to say ‘Hey, you have a spot,’” Rhule said.
Coming into the season, Baylor was one of only three Big 12 teams that appeared to have lock-solid No. 1 quarterbacks. It’s why Brewer earned some second-team spots on very early preseason all-conference lists put together by publications that cover the Big 12.
West Virginia sports Will Grier, who is in the preseason chatter for the Heisman Trophy. Iowa State is led by Kyle Kempt, who was granted a sixth season by the NCAA.
Brewer might’ve started preseason camp a bit slow.
“Sometimes coming into their second year, quarterbacks can hit a little bit of a slump because they try to do too much; they try to be perfect.,” Rhule said of Brewer. “And Charlie’s greatest quality is he just plays free. And about halfway through camp, I saw Charlie just say, ‘You know what, I’m just going to go be me.’ And his level of play (went up).”
McClendon graduated from North Carolina State in May and enrolled at Baylor in June. He appeared in 20 games with the Wolfpack, but never started.
McClendon was a four-star prospect when he signed with N.C. State in 2014. He was a backup to Jacoby Brissett, who now is with the Indianapolis Colts. When Brissett was drafted, McClendon lost a competition to Ryan Finley. McClendon announced in January that he would be leaving the program, rather than face another year on the bench.
At 6-5, 219 pounds, McClendon is sturdier than Brewer (6-1, 202). But statistically, Brewer is more accurate throwing the ball, completing 68 percent to McClendon’s 55.
Brewer started the final four games last season, leading the Bears to their only win of the season.
Rhule used senior grad transfer Anu Solomon as his initial starter a year ago. But Solomon suffered a concussion in the second game and didn’t play again. He withdrew from school because he had missed too many classes recovering from the injury.
The only other scholarship quarterback Baylor has is freshman Gerry Bohannon, a freshman who enrolled in January. Bohannon, a former four-star recruit, likely will redshirt.
Rhule said he isn’t sure yet how he will use the quarterbacks, whether he will make a decision and stick with one starter or use them both in games.
“I want to say this one more time, that quarterback play has been really, really exciting,” Rhule said. “And I kind of don’t want to see it stop. I don’t want to see someone catch their breath and go, ‘Oh, I got the spot … I want to see them keep pushing each other, because they’re really playing well.”