The SEC has many elite players with experience. But when it comes to the quarterback there are many questions and storylines at this position for practically every team in this conference. Here’s a breakdown and ranking of the quarterback position in the SEC.
1) Mississippi State
Projected Starter: Dak Prescott
QB Depth Chart: Prescott, Damian Williams, Nick Fitzgerald
Prescott and his Bulldogs had a magical 2014 season and this terrific signal caller was a big reason as to why. He led Mississippi State and put up some terrific numbers along the way, passing for 3,449 yards, 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and rushing for 986 yards and 14 touchdowns. Prescott elected to return for his final season in Starkville in hopes of improving his draft stock and winning the West and possible SEC Championship. He’s also one of the top contenders to win the Heisman Trophy. Hands down Prescott is the best player at this position in the SEC.
Projected Starter: Josh Dobbs
QB Depth Chart: Dobbs, Quinten Dormady
It’s time for Butch Jones and Tennessee to turn the corner and they will go as far as Josh Dobbs can take them. They have talent across the board and the Vols need Dobbs to make it all go. He played in six games last year and had five starts. Dobbs finished with 1,206 passing yards, 469 rushing yards, 17 total touchdowns and six interceptions. This signal caller has a ton of talent and athleticism but has to develop consistency to his game. If he has a big year that will likely mean Tennessee wins a bunch more games.
Projected Starter: Jeremy Johnson
QB Depth Chart: Johnson, Sean White
After watching Nick Marshall the last two seasons it’s finally Johnson’s time. He’s learned a lot and gotten some live snaps. When Johnson did play he looked good, teasing Tiger fans. Now it’s his show and there’s a ton of offensive optimism with Johnson at the helm of Gus Malzahn’s offense. He can throw and run and could be one of the best newcomers not just in the SEC, but in all of college football.
4) Texas A&M
Projected Starter: Kyle Allen
QB Depth Chart: Allen, Conner McQueen, Kyler Murray
It was the Kenny Hill show for the first quarter of the season for the Aggies, as he played brilliantly for Texas A&M while replacing Johnny Manziel. Then A&M went on a three-game skid and barely beat Louisiana Monroe. Kevin Sumlin then called on the 2014 top quarterback recruit, Kyle Allen. He started the final four games and played well. Allen passed for 1,322 yards, completed almost 62% of his throws, 16 touchdown passes and seven interceptions. On Friday, Hill transferred to TCU. Sumlin also signed a dynamic quarterback prospect in his past class in Kyler Murray. This kid has superstar written all over him. Sumlin just as this thing with quarterbacks…
Projected Starter: Maty Mauk
QB Depth Chart: Mauk, Eddie Printz, Corbin Berkstresser
Mauk is one of the most experienced players at the quarterback position in this league. He’s 14-4 as a starter and has almost two years of playing experience. In 2015, Mauk threw for 2,648 yards, 26 touchdowns and 13 picks. Missouri wants Mauk to be a more consistent passer and hang in the pocket a little longer moving forward this fall. He will have a chance to have a big season in 2015 and is certainly one of the more seasoned signal callers in the SEC.
Projected Starter: Brandon Allen
QB Depth Chart: Allen, Austin Allen, Rafe Peavey, Ty Storey
Allen is in a great situation at Arkansas. First, the Razorbacks closed out the year playing as well as anyone, as this program finally started to hit its stride under coach Brett Bielema. Second, the Hogs may have the league’s top running game. Finally, Allen is healthy and brings a wealth of experience. This fifth year senior has 25 starts under his belt and is coming off a solid 2014 season where he passed for 2,285 yards, 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions. Allen just needs to be solid, consistent and limit the turnovers. If that happens this team should make a huge push for the West title. Yeah, I said it.
Projected Starter: Patrick Towles
QB Depth Chart: Towles, Drew Barker, Reese Phillips
It was two seasons in one for the Wildcats and their starting quarterback. Kentucky started on fire, winning five of their first six starts with Towles. Then they lost the rest. During the first stretch he completed almost 63% of his passes, 10 touchdowns and only four interceptions. During the losing streak, Towles completed 52% with four touchdowns and five interceptions. He was also sacked 23 times during those final six games. Towles has a lot of talent but needs to play with better consistency. But this is a young team all growing up together under coach Mark Stoops. They have a good run game and a new offensive coordinator in Shannon Dawson in Lexington. I would expect this position to be better in 2015, especially if the offensive front protects does a better job in pass protection. If that happens this team could take the next step. If Towles struggles Stoops could turn to Drew Barker sooner rather than later.
Projected Starter: Jacob Coker
QB Depth Chart: Corker, David Cornwell, Blake Barnett, Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman
It’s no slam-dunk that Coker wins the starting job but it certainly looks like it’s his to lose. This Florida State transfer did play see playing time last season, completing 38/59 passes for 403 yards and four scores. He also had a chance to get acclimated to life as a member of the Crimson Tide and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. Now it’s his turn. Coker just needs to become more consistent or else Nick Saban and Kiffin could turn to one of many talented but younger signal caller, most notably David Cornwell or true freshman Blake Barnett.
Projected Starter: Brice Ramsey
QB Depth Chart: Ramsey, Faton Bauta, Jacob Park
There are many new, moving parts in Athens that includes a new starting quarterback and a new offensive coordinator. Mike Bobo got his big break and is now the head coach at Colorado State. Mark Richt went the NFL route and brought in Brian Schottenheimer to run his offense. It’s expected that Brice Ramsey will hold off Faton Bauta and Jacob Park and win the job. Ramsey did see some playing time in 2014. He passed for over 333 yards (24/39) and three touchdowns. If there’s one thing I have learned over the years is the Richt has done as good of a job as anyone in bringing along and developing quarterbacks. This unit may be a little green but they are talented and will be well coached. In addition, the Dawgs have a vaunted run game with a trio of top notch running backs that should take pressure off of Ramsey.
10) Ole Miss
Projected Starter: Ryan Buchanan
QB Depth Chart: Buchanan, Chad Kelly, DeVante Kincade
Buchanan saw some time in a dozen games last year but only threw the ball 22 times. He had one interception and no touchdowns. Meanwhile, Kincade played in eight games and had one touchdown. Transfer Chad Kelly is also in the mix. Coming out of spring Buchanan has the edge. It should come down to Buchanan and Kelly. The trio all played up and down this spring with no one signal caller forging ahead of the others. But remember, the offensive front was really banged up. Those line play should be much improved come this fall.
Projected Starter: Treon Harris
QB Depth Chart: Harris, Will Grier, Josh Grady, Jacob Guy
It’s a pretty heated race between Treon Harris and Will Grier. Grier has more arm talent and upside but has zero playing experience after red-shirting in 2014. He practiced well in the spring leaving coaches with high expectations. But he didn’t perform as well in scrimmages. Then you have the calm, cool and collected Harris, who won a few games as a part-time starter for Florida last fall. When the lights are on he has played well. Plus, he’s tough in the pocket because of his athleticism. In the short term he gives the Gators the best chance to win but at some point you would think Grier would have to take over.
Projected Starter: Jonathan McCrary
QB Depth Chart: McCrary, Wade Freebeck, Shawn Stankavage
The job is all McCrary’s, especially after last year’s opening game starter Patton Robinette decided to quit the game to concentrate on school. McCrary is a former highly touted signal caller from Metro-Atlanta that the previous staff signed. He showed some nice flashes in 2015, starting five games. McCrary threw for 985 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. Four different Vandy quarterbacks started at some point in 2014. Wade Freebeck even earned four starts but didn’t make nearly as many big plays as McCrary.
Projected Starter: Brandon Harris
QB Depth Chart: Brandon Harris, Anthony Jennings
It’s amazing how talented LSU is everywhere across their depth chart but they have really struggled of late at the quarterback position. Jennings started 12 of 13 games in 2014 but was erratic, completing only 49% of his throws. Harris did see some time last season as a raw, true freshman and he played like most do – inconsistently. Everyone on this side of the ball should be better in 2015, including whoever gets the starting nod at quarterback. At this point it’s likely Harris but expect both to play this fall.
14) South Carolina
Projected Starter: Connor Mitch
QB Depth Chart: Mitch, Michael Scarnecchia, Perry Orth, Lorenzo Nunez
Steve Spurrier will have his work cut out for him on this side of the ball in 2015, as South Carolina brings back very little, if any, experience at the quarterback position. It’s expected that Connor Mitch will win the job. He saw little action last season, appearing in two games and completing only two of six passes. Mitch had a solid spring. Spurrier will have to work his coaching wizardry this fall. Looking for growing pains here but improvement as the season goes on in Columbia.
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