Texas Tech Football: Making The Case For Jett Duffey For Starting QB

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 29: A member of the Texas Tech Red Raiders waits on the field before the start of their game against the LSU Tigers during the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium on December 29, 2015 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 29: A member of the Texas Tech Red Raiders waits on the field before the start of their game against the LSU Tigers during the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium on December 29, 2015 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) /

The Texas Tech football team will conduct a three-way competition for the starting quarterback spot this fall.  Here’s the case for starting Jett Duffey.

Everyone prefers a situation when reality unfolds in exact accordance with one’s plans.  But as is so often the case, unforeseen circumstances can disrupt life and throw situations into turmoil.  Such has been the realtiy when it comes to the college football career of Texas Tech sophomore Jett Duffey.

In his two years on campus, Duffey’s journey has had more twists and turns than a West Texas dust devil.  Now, he is trying to prove that he has found his footing both on and off the field as he attempts to claim the starting quarterback position that once seemed guaranteed to be his.

When Duffey was signed out of high school in 2016, the three-star prospect was arguably the most highly-decorated high school QB to ever sign with Texas Tech.  The 5A first-team All-State selection was the recipient numerous prestigious awards including the Tom Landry Award (best high school player in the North Texas region), the Dave Campbell’s Mr. Texas Football winner,  USA Today Texas State Offensive Player of the Year, Dallas Morning News Area Player of the Year, and Fort Worth Star-Telegram Offensive Player of the Year.

Duffey was supposed to be the heir-apparent to Pat Mahomes as the next great Texas Tech QB and there may have never been a more clear path to that lofty position for any incoming freshman.   In 2015, Tech did not sign a quarterback and the 2017 signee, Xavier Martin was converted to inside receiver meaning that there was virtually no other option as a long-term answer at QB.

But almost as soon as Duffey arrived, that clear line of succession was interrupted by an off-field incident.  A Title IX investigation found Duffey responsible for having sex with a woman too drunk to consent and he was suspended from the university for two semesters.  At that point, many felt that Duffey’s time at Texas Tech was over.

But to his credit, he returned last August to rejoin the team but a shoulder injury forced him to miss several weeks during the season further slowing his development in a season when Texas Tech had below-average quarterback play.

And to make matters more complicated, Duffey was arrested in April, along with three other teammates outside a Lubbock bar.  He was suspended for a handful of spring practices, which to many fans felt insignificant, but it cost him valuable repetitions in the QB competition.  In fact, it was during that time that true freshman QB Alan Bowman stepped forward with the extra reps to essentially pull even with Duffey and McLane Carter.

But while Duffey’s leadership and character have been called into question, his athleticism is so tantalizing that he remains a slight favorite to earn the job for the week-one showdown with Ole Miss.  Simply put, Duffey can do what the other QBs on campus can do but they can’t do what he can do.

Since Duffey has appeared in only two games at Tech, let’s take a look at his high school highlights.

Certainly, the film of his senior year is at times jaw-dropping.  Duffey was a true game-breaker with both his arms and legs.  At 6-foot-1, 200 pounds Duffey is bigger than many fans give him credit for.

In high school, he was not only elusive, he was also physical and tough when carrying the ball.  He displayed a feistiness when taking on defenders that would indicate a tremendously competitive side.

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And when throwing the ball, Duffey has excellent touch on the deep ball.  His arm strength is not quite that of Pat Mahomes but it is far above average for a college QB.  Consider the fact that he was invited to the Nike Elite 11 QB competition finals in 2015, the top competition for high school QBs.  In that event, he did not have the luxury of using his legs.  Rather, everything in the 7-on-7 passing competition was predicated on his ability to throw the ball and he performed well enough to be one of 20 players in America invited to the finals.

The upside for Duffey, especially in 2018, is higher than it is for Carter or Bowman.  If Duffey can prove to be accurate with the intermediate passing game and protect the ball, he would be the best option for a Texas Tech offense that is facing more transition this offseason than we have seen in the “Air Raid” era.

But can he make the type of throws that will move the chains?  One play in last year’s season opener might give us the answer.

Watch the play below as Duffey throws a dart while rolling out of the pocket.  This is the type of pass that he will have to make with consistency if he is to win the starting job.

On the play, it is clear to see his arm strength on full display on a play that required him to put the ball in a tight window while on the move.

But Duffey has left us with plenty of questions about whether he can be trusted with the ball.  Far too often this spring, he threw interceptions on plays where he tried to do too much or made the wrong read.  That is reportedly what is holding him back from seizing the starting spot.

Still, Duffey has the most potential to be a star in 2018.  His arm talent combined with his ability to run the ball (something Kingsbury covets and a aspect of the game new offensive coordinator Kevin Johns is know for) make him the most dangerous weapon Tech has on offense.

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With a group of new receivers and a mediocre crop of running backs, Duffey’s versatility could be a huge benefit to this year’s offense.  While Bowman and Carter can use their legs to move the chains, Duffey is a potential game-breaker who can turn the tide on any play.  If he can learn to make the correct decisions with the ball (and in her personal life), Jett Duffey could be the next star Texas Tech QB, as was the plan all along.  Tomorrow, we will look at the case for Alan Bowman.