Seth Russell, a fourth-year junior, is the starting quarterback for the Baylor Bears. He’s getting rave reviews from Baylor camp. He was the top vote for breakout player in our media survey. Russell is not among the preseason Heisman favorites, but here is why he’s a solid long shot bet at 33-1.
He’s a Quarterback: Russell is far from the only one. But, voters have loved quarterbacks lately. Eight of the last nine winners were quarterbacks. 10 of the last 15 top five finishers were quarterbacks. Russell is a first-time starter? So were four of the eight winners.
Baylor Quarterbacks Play Very Well: Art Briles’ quarterback development record is tremendous. Let’s look at the last four seasons, when he has had Baylor rolling.
2011: Robert Griffin III [72.4%, 10.7 YPA, 37 TD, 6 INT]
2012: Nick Florence [61.2%, 9.3 YPA, 33TD, 13 INT]
2013: Bryce Petty [62%, 10.4 YPA, 32TD, 3INT]t
2014: Bryce Petty [63.1%, 9.0 YPA, 29TD, 7INT]
Griffin won the Heisman, went No. 2 overall in the NFL Draft. Nick Florence was a stopgap, who went pro in something other than sports. He was still one of the nation’s top 10 to 15 passers under Briles. Bryce Petty was one of the nation’s best statistical passers, and a fourth-round pick. If Briles think’s he’s in a real good place, pay attention.
It’s a Great Year To Be a Baylor Quarterback: The rest of the offense is loaded. Baylor returns almost its entire offensive line. Those returning, including All-American Spencer Drango, have 106 career starts between them. They also return their top two rushers (Linwood/Jefferson) and receivers (Coleman/Cannon). All four were underclassmen last year and should take another step forward.
Baylor Will Be In The Playoff Mix: Winning is everything. Five of the past seven Heisman winners have come from a team that reached or played in a national title game. The other two, Johnny Manziel and RG3, had unexpected winning seasons at previously mediocre programs. Baylor begins the season in the preseason Top 5. They Baylor/TCU winner should be a favorite to make the playoffs.
In Conclusion: Seth Russell is set up to produce ridiculous numbers in Baylor’s offense. Baylor should be among the nation’s best teams. Players who produce ridiculous numbers for the nation’s best teams get strong Heisman consideration. Russell is not the best or the only player who fits that bill. But, he is the only player available at 33-1 which is quality value.