Since arriving at Baylor in January, quarterback Jarrett Stidham never wanted to redshirt. Now he doesn’t have to.

Stidham will be the Bears’ second-team quarterback behind junior starter Seth Russell heading into the Sept. 4 season opener against SMU in Dallas.

Sophomore Chris Johnson, who had been battling Stidham for second-team quarterback, is listed as the No. 3 quarterback and will also play receiver.

When asked last week if he wanted to play as a true freshman, Stidham left no doubt where he stood.

“Absolutely,” Stidham said. “You want to come in and play as soon as possible. I hope everyone has that attitude to want to get on the field.”

Stidham was rated one of the top high school quarterbacks in the country in the 2015 class after a great career at Stephenville. As a senior, he threw for 2,934 yards and 35 touchdowns while rushing for 969 yards and 15 scores.

During his junior year, Stidham threw for 2,613 yards and 30 touchdowns while rushing for 821 yards and 14 scores. The 6-3, 195-pound quarterback graduated from high school early to enroll at Baylor in January and go through spring drills.

“I still tell people that it’s the best decision I’ve ever made,” Stidham said. “High school’s fun and all, but it’s time to move on at some point. So that was good, just to get out of high school, get into the college life. Football-wise, it kind of gave me a leg up on learning the offense, learning how to get in with the program and all that stuff. It was really beneficial for me.”

Stidham had to learn the pace of Baylor’s high-tempo offense but playing with veterans made it much easier. He continued to study the offense throughout the summer and came into August drills feeling prepared and having a lot of confidence.

“Throughout the spring, day by day it got a little better,” Stidham said. “I was getting my feet wet at the beginning, just trying to pick everything up. But after spring ball, I really sat down and watched film a lot over the rest of the spring and the summer, just to try to learn the offense. Now I know pretty much everything, all the ins and outs of the offense. I picked it up fairly quickly.”

Surrounded by fast receivers, Stidham knows he can throw the deep pass and they’ll run under it. He’s also focused on perfecting his timing on shorter pass routes.

“We’ve got a lot of deep routes obviously in our offense,’ Stidham said. “It’s fun to throw the ball down to those guys that go get it. There’s all the debate about Wide Receiver U. We’re second to very, very few, if at all. We’ve got some of the best guys in the country and some of the fastest guys in the country that just like to go get the ball.”

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