It's the golden era of quarterbacks in the Big 12

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Most of the preseason magazines have hit the newsstands.

I know. I've read most of them cover-to-cover. I'm still awaiting a few more to devour.

But one thing has struck me as I look at the Big 12 and analyze rosters and returning players.

Namely, it's amazing how good the quarterback talent has been in this league over the last few years. I don't know if I've ever seen anything like it.

It really hit home when I saw a story from Oklahoma about a summit of almost holy proportions last weekend when Oklahoma's five national-championship quarterbacks appeared at the same autograph signing party. Claude Arnold, Jimmy Harris, Steve Davis, Jamelle Holieway and Josh Heupel remain some of the most noteworthy signal-callers in school history.

But for all of the talent there, I think Sam Bradford will go down as the greatest quarterback in Oklahoma history. He hasn't won a national championship yet, but he is in the process of obliterating the Sooner record book. He's already won a Heisman and could win another. And if he stays in school for two more years, he could end up as themost proficient quarterback by any measure in college football history.

And he's not alone. At other places around the league, we can see other quarterbacks who I think will be similarly remembered.

At Texas, Colt McCoy hasn't duplicated the national championships that have been won by Vince Young, James Street and the others. But McCoy already has most of the record book and could finish this season by doing something none of the other Texas quarterbacks have accomplished by winning the Heisman Trophy. And he could win the national championship, too.

At Oklahoma State, Zac Robinson has accomplished feats no other quarterback is school history has done. Another big statistical season could make him the greatest quarterback in OSU history. He's in the discussion right now, along with his Mike Gundy and Josh Fields. But Robinson can distance himself with a big season.

Todd Reesing at Kansas has quietly developed into the top record-holder in Jayhawk history. He's already led them to the first BCS bowl berth in school history, along with a share of the Big 12 North title in 2007. And a big season could make him the consensus top quarterback in school history. He's being mentioned with players like Bobby Douglass, David Jaynes and Frank Seurer.

Right now, those four quarterbacks can make strong claims to being the top quarterbacks in school history. And with big finishes to their respective careers, it won't be close.

And three other Big 12 quarterbacks could have a chance at one day being considered the greatest quarterback at their respective schools.

Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin did some magical things last year as a combination rushing/passing threat after a mind-blowing freshman season. If he takes the Bears to a bowl and keeps them winning at that level, he's the kind of player who might have statues built outside Floyd Casey Stadium in his honor.

And two others have a chance with strong growth and development.

Iowa State quarterback Austen Arnaud had a strong freshman season. If he can grasp the concept of new coordinator Tom Herman's offense and keep piling up statistics over the final two seasons of his career, he might merit mention as the top quarterback in Cyclone history.

And it wouldn't be beyond the realm of possibility that Texas A&M's Jerrod Johnson could develop into that type of player with two huge statistical seasons. He showed flashes last season when he threw for a school-record 419 yards against Kansas State. He also set the school single-season record for touchdown passes with 21. If he can lead the Aggies back into bowl contention, it might not be a stretch to group him among the very best in school history.

That means there are four quarterbacks who I believe have legitimate arguments to be considered as the best quarterback in the history of their respective schools. And three others with a shot to earn that distinction if they keep progressing during the rest of their careers.

Two schools will be replacing quarterbacks who I believe will go down as the greatest quarterbacks in their school's history. It won't surprise me if Chase Daniel at Missouri and Graham Harrell at Texas Tech are remembered that way.

With all of that talent at quarterback, it's no wonder that we've seen so many big numbers posted offensively in the Big 12 in recent years.

Remember that when you're watching quarterbacks in the league. Because we may never see anything like it again.