As he grooms his third quarterback in three seasons, Baylor football coach Art Briles is raising the bar for newcomer Bryce Petty.
Petty, a junior from Midlothian who has thrown 14 passes in his college career, follows Robert Griffin III, the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner, and Nick Florence, last year’s starter who set the school’s single-season record for passing yards (4,309). The Bears finished a combined 18-8 and won two bowl games in those seasons, including last year’s 8-5 mark.
What are Briles’ expectations for Petty?
“A reasonable expectation is break every Baylor record there is offensively,” Briles said. “That’s what we expect him to do and what he plans to do. His expectations are to win every game and be the best quarterback in the United States of America.”
Petty, who last started a game during the 2008 season at Midlothian High School, embraces such lofty standards heading into the team’s Aug. 31 opener against Wofford.
“Being a quarterback in this offense, how electric it is, it’s not hard to dream big,” said Petty, whose 2013 goals include winning a Big 12 title and breaking the Baylor season record of 10 wins by a starting quarterback. “I expect those things for myself. I have since Day One. You want to become a legend at your position, at your school. So that’s what I plan to do.”
Petty (6-foot-3, 230 pounds), who signed with the Bears in 2009 but did not enroll until January 2010, is a long way from legendary status in Baylor annals. But he’s shown promise in limited duty, completing 71.4 percent of his passes (10 of 14) for 140 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions, in 11 games the past two seasons.
Already enrolled in graduate school, Petty completed his bachelor’s degree in health science studies in May and has impressed coaches and teammates with his intangibles and his arm strength. Receiver Antwan Goodley said Petty has a “way stronger arm” than Florence, his immediate predecessor, and commands the huddle.
“Leadership is the main thing, right now. He’s taken charge,” Goodley said. “And Bryce has a great arm, a powerful arm. There’s no doubt he can get you the ball.”
Running back Lache Seastrunk, a 1,000-yard rusher last season, said Petty “brings everything to the table” that the Bears need to extend their run of three consecutive bowl appearances and contend for a Big 12 title.
“As long as he’s calm and he’s not rushing things, he should be just fine,” Seastrunk said.
Briles expects his new signal-caller to excel in that area. He cited patience and decision-making as two of Petty’s primary strengths.
“He understands we don’t have to go out there and throw a touchdown pass on every play,” Briles said. “He’s very intellectual about what needs to be done and when it needs to happen. That part of it, which is critical at that position, he possesses. It’s his turn and he’s ready to take it.”
During the team’s Aug. 17 scrimmage, Petty connected on 19 of 27 passes for 207 yards and two scores. He did not throw an interception. In the spring game, he finished 13-of-15 for 181 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions, while battling 35 mph winds.
But the acid test comes against Wofford, when Petty is slated to make his first start since throwing for 1,507 yards in an injury-plagued senior season in high school. After throwing only 14 passes the past four football seasons, Petty said he’s more than anxious to get rolling.
“It’s hard to talk about, honestly. The anticipation’s there. The hunger’s there,” Petty said. “There’s definitely been a buildup and you’ve always got some personal goals and aspirations.
“But to me, the biggest thing is for us to get that Big 12 championship. Whether I throw for 6,000 yards and get it or I throw for 2,000 yards and get it, that’s fine. I just want a ring. That kind of individual stuff is always good, but it’s a team deal. And I would much rather see our team have success.”
In Briles’ estimation, Petty is a clear choice as Baylor’s best option at quarterback to maximize its opportunity for success in 2013.