If Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury already has a starting quarterback chosen in his mind, he’s keeping it a secret.
Kingsbury says sophomore Michael Brewer and freshman Davis Webb will split snaps 50-50 for the first week of preseason practice in August before he names one to guide the Red Raiders.
Those two gained some separation on redshirt freshman Clayton Nicholas during spring practice, which wrapped up six weeks ago.
“But Clayton did some good stuff toward the end and really looked more comfortable the last week of practice,” Kingsbury said Thursday. “Those are three guys who showed they can move the ball up and down the field in all our scrimmages. They really protected the ball well, which was good to see for a young group. They all ran it (the offense) efficiently, so we’re excited about the depth at that position.”
Brewer played as a backup in nine games last year, completing 34 of 48 passes for 375 yards and four touchdowns.
It’s commonly assumed the 6-foot-1, 191-pound sophomore will take over for two-time 4,000-yard passer Seth Doege, but Kingsbury either decided to make Brewer earn the job or Webb forced some debate.
The two alternated days with the first team in spring practice, which speaks well of Webb. It was his first semester in college, but he didn’t carry himself as if it were.
“He stepped in and did a great job from a leadership aspect on communicating with our signals,” Kingsbury said. “He just acted like he belonged from day one. Physically, he’s very gifted — great arm, can run, a big kid. That wasn’t going to be an issue. But mentally the way he handled it was the most impressive thing.”
Kingsbury said Webb made only one throw all spring that reminded him, yes, it’s a freshman behind center.
Webb, listed at 6-4 and 194 pounds, was on the radar of Tech coaches by the time he was a sophomore at Keller High School. He came to Tech camps and went to the June satellite camps in the Dallas area, making an impression with how hard he competed.
Tech coaches tracked Webb for two years at Keller and then during his senior year after he transferred to Prosper.
“It was over the course of, really, a year and a half, two years of watching him,” co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie said, “and every time you watched him, you thought, ‘Hey, he’s getting better. Better, better, better.’
“I went and watched practice in the spring (of 2012), and Mike Groh (wide receivers coach) from Alabama was there. They were very heavy on him, and I called coach (Neal) Brown at the time and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got to have this guy. He throws it better than anybody.’”
Cumbie points out that Tech has had success with coach’s-son quarterbacks — Kingsbury, Graham Harrell — and Webb has the same background.
“All those things you hear about a coach’s kid ring true with him, if not more,” Cumbie said. “He’s totally consumed. ... Sometimes you’ve got to calm him down. Like, ‘Hey, Davis, let’s talk about something other than football.’”
Nevertheless, the odds are against Webb starting as a true freshman.
Such are Brewer’s credentials, from his springing from a family lineage of quarterbacks, leading Austin Lake Travis to two state championships, then being groomed as Doege’s heir apparent by the previous Tech staff.
Even being away from Tech for 10 years, Kingsbury had some familiarity with Brewer, who was such a high-profile high-school player.
Still, 15 sessions of spring ball gave Kingsbury time to form some fresh opinions about Brewer.
“I knew he was a fierce competitor from his high school days,” Kingsbury said. “I think watching him extend plays was something I didn’t realize he was that good at until I saw him out in scrimmages and semi-live situations. He’s a guy who can keep plays alive which, in this offense, is good.”
Nicholas brought a pedigree of his own coming out of Abilene Cooper, where he threw for 5,959 yards and 56 touchdowns in two years. He was behind the others, but completed 8 of 10 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown in the spring game.
“Those other two were quick studies of (the offense),” Kingsbury said. “They got in here and were running it pretty efficiently from day one. They had played in very similar systems in high school, so it made sense to them.
“Clayton, it just took a little bit longer to click. I was really impressed with what he did in the spring game. That last week of practice, I thought he started seeing things better, reacting quicker and was making better decisions.”
Michael Brewer, So.
Davis Webb, Fr.
Clayton Nicholas, Fr.
Returning starter: None.
Seniors lost: Seth Doege.
Departures/eligibility remaining: Dustin Walton, So. (transferred to Colorado State-Pueblo); Tucker Tuberville, Fr. (transferred to Cincinnati).