Redshirt junior Bryce Petty didn’t have the easiest shoes to fill. He watched Robert Griffin III walk across the Heisman stage. Then he watched as Nick Florence broke Griffin’s single-season Baylor record for passing yards.
“Those guys have put a lot of standards up there that are going to be tough to beat,” head coach Art Briles said on Petty following Griffin and Florence before the season. “But Petty has been around everything. He understands he’s got the physical presence and ability to do it. What we gotta do is just let him get in situations and let him create his own identity.”
Coming into the season under-the-radar, he didn’t feel much pressure. It was the sophomore running back—Lache Seastrunk—who everyone thought of as a Heisman Trophy candidate. He averaged nearly eight yards per carry the year before and looked poised to carry the Bears offense.
Despite Seastrunk’s solid season, it is actually Petty who has carried Baylor and thrown his name into the Heisman discussion.
“I think he’s been phenomenal and the thing that impresses me is, first of all, his leadership because you never really know about someone until you go through the fire with them — go through some kind of adversity with them,” Briles said. “Fortunately, we haven’t had a lot of adversity but when we have, he’s been really strong and really solid.”
Petty is currently eighth in the country in passing yards, leading the highest scoring offense in the nation. All he can do now is reflect on his past years on the bench and marvel in the current year leading a Top 10 team.
“I think God has a very funny way of writing out and planning our story
better than we could,” Petty said. “If I had it my own way I would’ve been playing since I was a freshman and all that stuff. But to have the team that we have now, I couldn’t have wrote it better myself.”
Texas realizes what they are up against — a Baylor team that isn’t the highest scoring team in the nation for no reason. When watching film, Texas’ defensive coordinator Greg Robinson can only admire the offense he prepares to solve.
“I take pictures on my screen so I can print them just so I can save some of these,” Robinson said. “I want to show them to my grandkids so I can say, ‘This is how you use a field,’”
Everything begins with Petty.
“He’s a good quarterback,” Robinson said. “He has good weapons around him. He knows how to get the ball to those guys.”
But what scares the Texas defense is his ability to make plays on the ground. He has twice as many rushing touchdowns as Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf, who torched the Longhorns on the ground with 95 yards and two touchdowns.
“I hope he’s not as good,” Robinson said. “Quite frankly, I think we helped Chelf a little bit. I’m not taking anything away from him, I think he did a nice job, but this guy has run for yardage just like Chelf has and a couple others too.”
With all the success he has had so far, Petty knows more lies ahead, and is excited for the final game of this season with possible BCS
“There are a lot of memories, a lot of high points with this season and the best part is it’s not over,” Petty said. “We got two more games. One more game that will sum up everything and I am very blessed, very humbled to be a part of it.”
And Petty isn’t leaving Waco anytime soon. The NFL will have to wait.
“I definitely will be back next year,” he said.