Baylor's national title hopes are in the hands of a true freshman.
He has played extremely well in limited time as the backup: Stidham has thrown a pass in all seven games this season, completing 24 of 28 passes for 331 yards and six touchdowns with zero interceptions in mop-up duty during blowout wins. He saw his most extensive action against Kansas, going 9 of 10 for 117 yards and two touchdowns while playing the bulk of the second half in a 66-7 win over the Jayhawks. After Russell’s recent injury against Iowa State, Stidham quarterbacked the offense in the final five minutes of the win, throwing a touchdown to Corey Coleman in the 45-27 victory. He also had a dream start to his college career, throwing a 42-yard touchdown to Chris Platt on his first pass in a Baylor uniform against SMU in the season opener.
“We have confidence in Jarrett,” coach Art Briles said. “He shows maturity beyond his years. He doesn’t act like a freshman or perform like a freshman. He’s a guy that instinctively, athletically is ready to play.”
He was one of the nation’s top recruits at this time a year ago: Stidham was the No. 37 player in the ESPN 300 for the Class of 2015, earning Under Armour All-American honors and participating in the Elite 11 and The Opening. Kansas coach David Beaty said Monday that Stidham and Texas A&M freshman Kyler Murray had among the best quarterback evaluations he’s ever seen.
“From a fundamentals standpoint, he’s as good as I’ve seen,” said Beaty, who was the wide receivers coach at Texas A&M during Stidham’s recruiting cycle. “You hate to see that happen to Seth but Baylor is in really good hands because they’ve recruited well. This kid can really play.”
He was committed to Texas Tech before a late switch: Stidham flipped his commitment and enrolled early at Baylor after being committed to the Red Raiders during the 2014 season. He changed his commitment in December, after Patrick Mahomes had impressed as a true freshman at Tech, then found himself on campus as a Baylor Bear within a few weeks of changing his mind. Stidham went on to impress in the spring before winning the backup job in the fall, prompting Chris Johnson, a redshirt sophomore, to move to receiver. (Johnson is expected to return to quarterback this week.)
He was a three-time all-state performer at Stephenville (Texas) High School: And in his senior year alone, Stidham accounted for 3,903 total yards and 50 touchdowns. He was 183 of 260 for 2,934 yards and 35 touchdowns passing while adding 969 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground.
He’s more than just a drop-back passer: At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Stidham brings good size to the table, but he’s also a pretty good athlete. In addition to his efficient passing numbers, Stidham has 12 carries for 26 yards during his limited time on the field for Baylor. Stidham was honorable mention all-state as a receiver during his sophomore season at Stephenville and went on to earn all-district honors as a basketball player and run track during his time in high school.