The Juice: Texas Tech's amazing quarterback tree
Texas Tech's game next Saturday against the Arizona State Sun Devils will be the program's 218th since Mike Leach was hired on the South Plains. The Air Raid era is officially 18 seasons old and, yet, the position that is so closely associated with the Red Raiders' high-scoring offense remains a relatively exclusive club.
Texas Tech's second- and third-string quarterbacks saw action in the team's Week 1 win over Eastern Washington, meaning there have now been 20 quarterbacks that have attempted a pass for the Red Raiders in the Air Raid era. Of that group, all but six - Ryan Rowland, Brant Costilla, Vincent Testaverde*, McLane Carter* and Jett Duffey* - started at the FBS level at some point in their career. That number doesn't even include Nathan Chandler (Iowa) or Scotty Young (La. Tech) who never appeared in a game for Texas Tech but went on to start for another FBS program after transferring.
Here's a look at all 20 of those quarterbacks listed in order of pass attempts for the Red Raiders:
Graham Harrell (2,011 att.) - Harrell, a three-year starter at Texas Tech, is the winningest quarterback in program history and set an FBS record for touchdown passes during his career. For my money, he’s the best quarterback in Red Raider history.
Kliff Kingsbury (1,883 att.) - Kingsbury was a three-year starter for the Red Raiders and left the South Plains holding 39 school records, 13 Big 12 records and seven Div. I marks. He’s currently Texas Tech’s head football coach.
Pat Mahomes (1,349 att.) - You know.
Seth Doege (1,187) - Doege was a two-year starter for the Red Raiders and, along with Harrell and Mahomes, is one of three quarterbacks in school history to throw for 4,000 or more yards in back-to-back seasons. He holds the school record for career completion percentage (69 percent).
Taylor Potts (1,106 att.) - Potts started 22 games at Texas Tech from 2009-10, completing 733-of-1,016 passes for 7,835 yards, 62 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. His career as a starter bridged a tumultuous time in the program's history - Mike Leach's last season and Tommy Tuberville's first.
B.J. Symons (822 att.) - Symons backed up Kingsbury for three seasons before taking over as Texas Tech's starter as a fifth-year senior in 2003. Despite being hobbled by a torn ACL for half of the season, Symons broke the NCAA single-season record for passing yards (5,833) and the Big 12 record for single-season touchdown passes (52).
Davis Webb (706 att.) - Webb started six games in 2013 and... Well, you all know the rest.
Sonny Cumbie (704 att.) - Cumbie started for the Red Raiders in 2004. He got off to a shaky start thanks to a loss to New Mexico in the second game of the season, but managed to right the ship with big home wins over TCU and Nebraska. Cumbie sealed his legacy in the team's Holiday Bowl win over No. 4 Cal and helped lay the groundwork for the elevated success the program would enjoy from 2005-09.
Cody Hodges (543 att.) - Hodges patiently waited his turn behind Kingsbury, Symons and Cumbie and was the Red Raiders' starting quarterback during the 2005 season. He led the team to one of the best seasons in school history and a berth in the 2006 Cotton Bowl.
Baker Mayfield (340 att.) - Due to an injury to Brewer during the 2012-13 offseason, Mayfield made the unprecedented jump from walk-on freshman to opening day starter in 2013. He threw for over 400 yards in his debut against SMU and ended up starting seven games that season. Mayfield quit the team at the end of the 2013 regular season and ultimately transferred to Oklahoma.
Steven Sheffield (194 att.) - Sheffield was extended a preferred walk-on spot on the team late in the 2006 recruiting cycle following Greg McElroy's decommitment from Texas Tech. He unexpectedly won the back-up job heading into the 2009 season and dazzled in relief of an injured Potts in wins against New Mexico, Kansas State and Nebraska. Had he not injured his foot against the Huskers, Sheffield might not have ever relinquished the starting gig. Sheffield competed for the No. 1 job following the 2009 season but lost out again to Potts and spent the 2010 campaign as the back-up.
Nic Shimonek (90 att.) – Shimonek transferred to Texas Tech from Iowa before the 2014 season. He sat out due to NCAA transfer rules and then saw limited action behind Mahomes in 2015 and 2016 before winning the starting job in 2017.
Michael Brewer (58 att.) - Brewer backed up Seth Doege in 2012 and was his heir apparent. He was sidelined by a back injury the following summer and only played in four games (no starts) in 2013. Brewer transferred to Virginia Tech and, eligible immediately as a graduate school transfer, was named the Hokies' starting quarterback for the 2014 season. In his first season as a collegiate starter, he completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 2,692 yards, 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
Chris Todd (35 att.) - Todd competed with Harrell for the starting spot in 2006 and backed him up that season, but left the program after the bowl game. He spent a season at Hutchinson C.C. in Kansas before signing with Auburn. Todd was a part-time starter for the Tigers in 2008 but started all 13 games for AU in 2009. He threw 22 touchdown passes as a senior, which was then a school record.
Vincent Testaverde, Jr. (26 att.) - With Webb unavailable due to injury, Testaverde was Mahomes' back-up for Texas Tech's 2014 home game against Texas. Mahomes suffered an injury in the first half that knocked him out of the game, and Testaverde was thrust into action for the rest of the evening.
Jacob Karam (18 att.) - Karam backed up Doege in 2011 and, after receiving his degree from Texas Tech, transferred to Memphis. He started all 12 games as a junior for the Tigers in 2012 but was beat out the following season.
Ryan Rowland (4 att.) - Rowland, a walk-on, was part of the football program in the mid-2000s and eventually settled in as the team's third-string back-up. He appeared in two games during his career, completing a combined 2-of-4 passes for 13 yards against Sam Houston State in 2005 and Southeastern Louisiana in 2006.
McLane Carter (3 att.) - Carter signed with Texas Tech as part of its 2017 class and enrolled in time to go through spring practice with the team. He began the season as Shimonek's backup and made his Red Raider debut in the opener against Eastern Washington. Carter, along with Brant Costilla, is one of just two former JUCO products to attempt a pass as a Texas Tech quarterback in the program's Air Raid era.
Jett Duffey (2 att.) - Duffey inked with Texas Tech in 2016 and redshirted his first season on campus. He was suspended from the university due to a Title IX violation and missed the bulk of the 2016-17 offseason as a result. Duffey is widely viewed as the heir apparent to Shimonek but began the 2017 season as the team's third-team quarterback. He made his Red Raider debut against Eastern Washington.
Brant Costilla (1 att.) - Costilla was the Red Raiders' third-string quarterback in 2012. He made his sole career appearance against Texas State that season, going 1-of-1 for 14 yards. He holds the distinction of being the only Texas Tech quarterback in the Air Raid era to finish his time in Lubbock with one career pass attempt.
* Testaverde, Carter and Duffey are still active players.