WACO, TEXAS - Jarrett Stidham was all set to take over the Baylor offense in 2017. But a drastic change in the Bears’ coaching staff on May 26, 2016 caused Stidham to hang up his green and gold.
“I looked at my phone when I first woke up and I had a bunch of text messages. Probably like eight or nine messages, from people who don't usually text me,” Stidham said. “I had a missed call from KB, I was like, 'hmmm that's weird.' So I instantly called KB back, he was like 'you're not going to believe this,' and he told me and I was shocked to say the least."
Stidham, who was a five-star recruit coming out of Stephenville High School, was Baylor’s quarterback of the future. Until the University’s past was called into question, causing Art Briles to be fired and Stidham’s career path to take a different turn.
"I talked to Coach Briles about it just because he had no affiliation with Baylor anymore. Obviously me and him are tight, still are tight,” the former Baylor Bear said. “I talked to him a lot about it, just what he thought would be the best thing for me. Obviously I trust him because I came to Baylor to play for him."
After about a month of thinking it over, the former Elite 11 quarterback chose to leave Baylor and attend McLennan Community College in Waco for a semester in order to not burn a year of eligibility.
He says he doesn’t regret making that decision.
"I mean there was just too many unknowns moving forward, and I just felt like it was best to leave Baylor at the time,” he said. “Sure enough, that's what's been best for me, as hard as it is to sit and watch football every Saturday, I don't regret my decision at all."
Stidham also spoke with current Baylor quarterback Seth Russell about his decision to leave the program.
“I told him before it ever came out. I talked to him before any of my other teammates so he knew what I was doing. He was supportive. He was like 'dude if you need anything, let me know!' He was really supportive about it and he understood where I was coming from,” Stidham said.
For the past few months Stidham has been working out at D1, a training facility in Waco. He says he’s doing the best to mimic what he did at Baylor, strength and conditioning wise. But, he can’t mimic what he did at Baylor under the lights on Saturday nights.
"It's definitely hard from going to playing to not playing at all. I think it'll be next Monday, it will be exactly one year since I last took a snap in a football game,” Stidham recalled. “Then you throw on the next ten months after this, that's going to be a long time without playing against somebody so it's definitely hard."
While Stidham looks ahead to the unknown, he knows his former coach, Art Briles, is in the same boat.
“We've talked really about just staying positive, because it's kind of been a big change for all of us. So just staying positive and not trying to get to down on ourselves, just keep doing our "lonely work" as I like to call it. Just to get ready for next season, whether if he has a job or not,” Stidham remarked. “Obviously, I'm going to be somewhere so I'm just trying to stay ready."
As decision time draws near for the 20-year-old quarterback, he reflects on another big decision he made, just four months ago.
“I think it's been what's best for me. I don't really know why everything has happened but hopefully I find that out within the next month or so, “ Stidham said. “Hopefully within the next few years, it kind of plays out to my advantage. But everything happens for a reason, I'm a believer in that kind of thing. It's been a good learning experience for sure."
The former blue chip quarterback says he’s narrowed down his choices to a few schools and he hopes to have a decision made by December 14.
“Wherever I end up, I want to help the team as much as possible, be a team player. Just work my butt off and just really put myself and my team in the best situation to win football games in 2017."