|Photo courtesy of Tim Heitman (USA Today Sports)
True freshman QB Jarrett Stidham was quickly thrust into the drivers’ seat when starting QB Seth Russell broke a bone in his neck in October. When the news was announced that Seth would be out for the season, every sports analyst and fan doubted Stidham’s skill and ability to take the Bears where Seth could. Jarrett played in every one of the Bears’ games either during garbage time or in a starting position. In 10 games, Stidham had 75 completions of 109 attempts for 1,265 yards with 12 TDs and two INTs. His stats spoke well for the true freshman’s skills, but he was taken down on a hard hit during the Oklahoma State game and was ruled out for the season with a broken fibula along with hand and back injuries. Things were starting to look bleak for the Bears in their journey toward a third consecutive Big 12 Championship, until third string QB Chris Johnson stepped in.
Chris Johnson was the fifth ranked dual-threat QB in 2012. He enrolled at Baylor in January 2013 and redshirted his freshman year to maintain eligibility. Johnson didn’t see one snap for a year until he was able to play in four of 13 games in the 2014 season. When Seth Russell won the starting QB position for the 2015 team, Johnson’s chance to be named his backup was taken by true freshman Stidham. At third string QB, it didn’t seem likely for 6’5 235 lb Johnson to play at captain, so he switched over to WR- a position he would maintain until Russell went down. After Russell’s injury, Johnson was changed back to QB on the depth chart behind Stidham. Stidham was hurt quickly in the Stillwater after a late hit in the Oklahoma game deeply bruised his back. This time, it was his hand, back, and a broken fibula that left Stidham hobbling off the field. It was finally CJ’s time.
Three years and two different positions later, Johnson got the playing time he deserved. He started with a beautiful pass to WR KD Cannon (ruled incomplete), which was the first of many incredible connections between Johnson and his receivers. He ended his first drive at QB with a 39 yard TD pass to WR Jay Lee at the beginning of the third quarter. The crowd went wild. Fans on both sides of the field were left wondering “Who is #13?” Jaws dropped when the third string QB threw another deep ball to Cannon for a 71 yard TD to end the third quarter. Johnson showed his physical speed and strength as well as he rushed past defenders and stole many first downs for the Bears.
Today, Stidham was officially ruled out for the remainder of the regular season and CJ will be the Bears’ starting QB. With two games left (one in Fort Worth for the biggest rivalry in Texas) and two QBs out with season-ending injuries, the Baylor team is putting their trust in arguably one of our most talented QBs to date. No, he hasn’t truly started in a game in his college career, but Johnson has the speed and strength to shut down any team in the country.