Who has the best quarterback situation in the SEC? Going into the summer, here’s the quarterback ranking for every SEC team.
After a musical chairs situation at quarterback, Kyle Shurmur appears to have settled things down. Thrown to the wolves as a freshman, he at least has seen what life in the SEC is like and he’s going to be the one the program develops over the next few years. He had to grab the job in spring ball – and he did – and now the fight this fall will be to find an established top backup.
The Wildcats did a nice job of grooming Patrick Towles for the Boston College job. The transfer leaves UK a little thin – literally – with 6-3, 190-pound Stephen Johnson II a JUCO transfer with speed and a nice passing touch. It’s Drew Barker’s job, though, after seeing time last season and with the pro-style passing skills to make the offense more vertical.
12. South Carolina
Connor Mitch transferring doesn’t really matter all that much. He might have been looking like the potential main man last year, but this season, Perry Orth is the safe choice, Lorenzo Nunez is the dangerous option – at least before moving to wide receiver – and Brandon McIlwain is the shot for the stars. McIlwain might not be all that big, but the true freshman has the arm, the quickness, and the moxie to handle the work.
With Maty Mauk off being an Eastern Kentucky Colonel, and with former Oklahoma QB Josh Heupel in to take over the offense coordinator job, now it’s Drew Lock who’ll be under the microscope. Marvin Zanders is the backup by default with Mauk and Eddie Printz gone, but it’s all about Lock and his ability to move the offense – something that Mauk struggled to do last year. Lock will get time to grow into the job.
10. Mississippi State
No SEC teams gets hit harder from the loss of a starting QB with Dak Prescott off to his life as an NFL backup. Nick Fitzgerald is more of a pro-style passer with the size and experience to take over, but he’ll have to earn the job. Damien Williams will get a shot and might end up as the No. 2, but Nick Tiano is the most interesting X factor after a strong spring.
It was one of the biggest shockers of last season when Brandon Allen turned into a gunner. He’s gone, but Brandon’s brother, Austin Allen, took over the job early on this spring showing he’s ready to be the leader and true No. 1 option. The situation is settled, but the fall camp needs to come up with a sure No. 2, hoping former USC Trojan Ricky Town can look like the next big thing.
It seems like Auburn’s quarterback situation should be better than it actually is. Sean White had a good spring game and has just enough to his game to be the front-runner later this summer, but JUCO transfer John Franklin III is getting all the attention, mainly because he’s not White or Jeremy Johnson. One of them has to provide a spark to an offense that didn’t crank it up this spring.
Brandon Harris will probably better than everyone expects – at least he’ll look that way handing off to Leonard Fournette and throwing to an NFL-caliber receiving corps. Watch out, though, for former Purdue Boilermaker Danny Etling to be a factor if Harris struggles at least a little bit. Etling was just good enough this spring to – at the very least – make the backup situation a positive.
After a sad second half of the season after Will Grier – now a West Virginia Mountaineer, at least in waiting – was suspended, the situation is far, far better. Former Oregon State Beaver Luke Del Rio looked more than capable this offseason, while Purdue transfer Austin Appleby and freshman Feleipe Franks provide plenty of options and more talent than head coach Jim McElwain had to work with last year.
5. Texas A&M
Trevor Knight is a consolation prize after the five-star talent the program has become used to, but at least he’s not going to transfer. He might not be special, but he’s a veteran who should be a steady playmaker. Jake Hubenak is a terrific backup who can step in without a problem and get a win.
There’s a problem when there’s a concern over not having another Jacob Coker or Blake Sims. At least there are options. Jalen Hurts is the most talented quarterback on the roster, but the true freshman needs seasoning. He might slip in here and there to utilize his mobility, but this is Alabama, so expect Cooper Batemen to be the type of pro-style passer who gets the call early on. David Cornwell is going to get every shot to win the gig in fall camp, and Blake Barnett will have a chance, but it’s Batemen’s gig to lose.
This is too high considering Joshua Dobbs still has to prove he can be the superstar of college superstars. He’s awfully good as a do-it-all playmaker, but the backup situation is a little iffy with true freshman Jarrett Guarantano likely the best option once the season rolls around. Considering how much Dobbs runs, there’s reason to worry that Tennessee’s season might be one good shot away from effectively being over.
Overall, this might be the strongest quarterback situation in the SEC – the Bulldogs don’t have Chad Kelly, though. However, if it really is Jacob Eason taking on the job early on – and if he’s up to the task and is every bit as good as the hype right away – move Georgia up to No. 1. Greyson Lambert is more than just a capable option – he might be just good enough to keep Eason on the sidelines, at least for a little while.
1. Ole Miss
Chad Kelly is rising up in the NFL draft circles in what – at the moment – appears to be a mediocre crop after Deshaun Watson. He’s the baller the offense needs after losing some key targets, while superstar recruit Shea Patterson will be brought along slowly. He’s talented enough to be thrown to the wolves if something happens to Kelly.