In his first season as a starter, Petty quickly established himself as the most prolific quarterback in the conference. With Oklahoma State’s Clint Chelf and TCU’s Casey Pachall graduating following this season, there’s no doubt Petty will hold the crown of the Big 12’s best passer entering 2014.
During an interview in late October, Petty told me he’d never given much thought to entering the NFL draft early. He was just trying to enjoy his junior season, one in which he’d waited for after three years on the bench. If the Heisman Trophy was a possibility for him, that would have been great. But it wasn’t his goal.
The goal was Pasadena. He wanted to lead Baylor to the national championship game. Once the Bears were knocked out of the top 5 after a loss to Oklahoma State, Petty seemed a lock to return. Why turn down another chance to make a run at a Big 12 title?
With Petty set to stick around, the big unanswered question is Lache Seastrunk’s decision. If the Bears get both their All-Big 12 quarterback and running back to return for their senior seasons, they may be the league’s preseason favorite.
While it’s possible that as many as seven or eight NFL teams could draft a QB in the first round next April, Petty made a smart move here. Like Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, who also elected to return, he can raise his stock as a first-rounder with another big season in 2014.
At one point this season, before Baylor began its tough five-game regular-season finish against Oklahoma on Nov. 7, Mel Kiper Jr. ranked Petty as the No. 6 quarterback in the draft.
All that matters to Petty, though, is being the No. 1 team in the Big 12. A loss to Oklahoma State cost Baylor that spot. Even if it does sneak into the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl with a win this weekend against Texas, there remains unfinished business. Petty now has another year to get the job done.