Is UCF QB John Rhys Plumlee Built for the Big 12 Gauntlet?

The Big 12 has seen dominating quarterback play and Heisman winners. But is the conference ready for John Rhys Plumlee, the dynamic dual-threat from UCF?

John Rhys Plumlee was once offered by 15 different universities, including schools from the Power 5 realm, but none were from institutions representing the Big 12.

If the Big 12 coaches didn’t think much of his throwing and running ability during his recruitment, or simply felt he wasn’t made for the installed system, the UCF dual-threat passer now has a great chance to shake up the conference—and show he’s built for the challenges that lie ahead in Knights’ new conference slate.

John Rhys Plumlee – The ‘Fastest QB in The Country’ Enters the Big 12

The Big 12 has seen its share of dynamic dual threats in the past. Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts of Oklahoma both come to mind, and even Texas Tech legend Patrick Mahomes made plays with his legs when needed.

Plumlee’s own long limbs already make him a threat the moment a Big 12 defense tries to send four or more rushers, and he’s already shown his prowess against Power Five opponents and a previous conference champion.

Here in this clip versus Louisville, Plumlee is facing a quartet of rushers with a single back. However, it’s evident that this is a designed QB run, as the running back becomes a lead blocker. Plumlee’s speed is evident as he forces the fourth defender to finally bring him down, but not before gaining significant yardage for UCF inside the UL 25-yard line on the nearly 30-yard scamper.

His speed becomes even more remarkable when facing a five-man rush against American Athletic Conference champion Tulane, as he manages to elude being touched until he surpasses the end zone on the 67-yard touchdown.

Where Does the Speed Come From? And How Fast is Plumlee?

Another set of cleats helped add to his speed: baseball ones.

As a center fielder, Plumlee was tasked with sprinting to ground balls trekking toward his direction or accelerating to the wall for potential flyouts. It’s a position that often requires speed, burst, and instincts as the center fielder has the largest portion of grass to cover.

Plumlee not only excelled in that role as a star baseball player for Oak Grove High in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, but he continues to showcase his skills as an outfield option for UCF. This includes juggling both the spring game and a Knights baseball contest on the same day in April of this year.

Speed and conditioning are clearly not problems for the 6’0″, 200-pounder. But just how fast is Plumlee?

He’s been recorded blazing the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds, giving him the speed of a slot wide receiver. Additionally, that time puts him faster than the past conference star and fellow baseball talent Murray, who was once timed at 4.38.

The Big 12 will now have defensive coordinators forced to think of ways they can counter the UCF dual-threat the moment he tucks it and runs.

Is Plumlee an Early Threat For Conference Player of the Year Honors?

Max Duggan is off to the NFL after being drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers in the seventh round, leaving an opportunity for someone else to lay claim to Big 12 Player of the Year honors.

It’s now a wide-open race, and newcomer Plumlee deserves consideration for this reason: Every Big 12 conference opponent he and the Knights will face, with the exception of fellow newcomer Houston from the AAC, surrendered more than 100 yards rushing last season.

The new conference gauntlet begins with reigning Big 12 champ Kansas State on September 23, a team that allowed 150.8 yards on the ground last season. The Wildcats also lost their top edge rusher, Felix Anudike-Uzomah, to the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round.

The following week, in the first Big 12 home game in Orlando, Baylor comes to town. The Bears allowed 148.2 yards on the ground in 2022. After that, the worst Big 12 run defense, Kansas, becomes the next challenge for Plumlee and his team.

For those wondering about Plumlee’s performance against pass defenses in the revamped conference, it’s worth noting that every Big 12 defense he’ll face allowed an average of more than 224 yards in 2022 while also surrendering more than 21 points per game. This setup increases Plumlee’s chances to improve as a passer.

There’s also a favorable aspect on the aerial side for the gridiron/diamond star. Bud Clark of TCU, the lone defensive returner who snatched five interceptions last season, will not be faced by UCF in the regular season. Instead, UCF will go up against an Oklahoma State team that has to replace the conference’s top interception leader, Jason Taylor II, and a Kansas State unit that won’t have Julius Brents, who picked off four passes before heading to the league.

Overall, the Big 12 teams that didn’t extend an offer to Plumlee during his prep years are now facing a dark horse Conference Player of the Year candidate.

John Rhys Plumlee

  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 200
  • Number: 10
  • Class: Fifth-Year Senior
  • Hometown: Hattiesburg, Mississippi
  • High school: Oak Grove
  • Years Active: Five
  • Previous School(s): Ole Miss
  • Draft Eligibility: 2024

John Rhys Plumlee Stats

  • Career Games Played: 38
  • Career Starts: 13 with UCF
  • Completions: 303
  • Attempts: 504
  • Completion Rate: 60.1%
  • Yards: 3,567
  • Touchdowns: 19
  • Interceptions: 11
  • Yards Per Attempt: 7.1
  • Career Attempts: 347
  • Career Rushing Yards: 2,051
  • Touchdowns: 23
  • Yards Per Carry: 5.9
  • Yards Per Game: 53.97
  • Career Receptions: 26
  • Career Receiving Yards: 296
  • Career Receiving Touchdowns: 0
  • Yards Per Catch: 11.4