Published July 28, 2012 - 10:30am
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SDS is getting into the Olympic spirit, and the ceremonies carry us almost right into the start of football season. SDS will be handing out SEC Podium Awards for the top three players at each position. First up, the quarterbacks.
The quarterback position in the SEC has been hit or miss over the last few years. It is known as a running and defensive league. And the two most recent standout quarterbacks have played in a spread-based offense, and both were running quarterbacks in Tim Tebow and Cam Newton. However, this year, the SEC boasts a really strong group overall, and it is the year of the passing quarterback in the SEC.
Gold: Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Wilson is really a foregone conclusion as the top choice at his position entering ‘12. He gave us a glimpse of what he could do in 2010 filling in for the injured Ryan Mallett against Auburn. Many touted Wilson as the breakout player of 2011, and he certainly lived up to the hype and possibly surpassed it. Wilson threw for 3,638 yards, while connecting for 24 touchdowns and throwing only six interceptions. Playing baseball in his early career really helped Wilson with his rhythm, arm strength and throwing motion. He could have forgone his amateur status by entering the draft, and would have been a top pick, but he returns to Arkansas for his senior season in search of a championship. The game plan changes when you play against a guy like Wilson, who can make all the throws on the field. Along with the best physical tools at the position, Wilson is physically the toughest at the position, too. You hit him; he gets right back up. Unfortunately, he was hit a lot last year, something the Hogs’ line has to improve on this year.
Silver: Aaron Murray, Georgia
If Wilson is the premier quarterback in this league, Aaron Murray is dogging his trail shortly behind him. Heck, even Murray threw for more touchdowns – 11 more to be exact – and did it with less weapons overall than Wilson. Murray has the ability to scramble when a play breaks down, too, but he’s not considered a true dual-threat quarterback. Murray has his critics, even after he penned his name in the Georgia record book last season. And he can silence those critics with an SEC Championship this season, something that has escaped him thus far. One year wiser and more experienced will go a long way in helping both Murray and his team make a run at a championship.
Bronze: Tyler Bray, Tennessee
This was a tough decision and will be argued until the season starts. You have two top quarterbacks in Wilson and Murray who everyone recognizes. Then, there are three to four other guys who bunch together, including James Franklin, Tyler Bray and AJ McCarron. McCarron played at a high level last year, and should do so this season as well. While McCarron has a national championship under his belt, Bray has quite possibly the highest ceiling of any SEC quarterback, boasting the strongest arm in the SEC and the ability to make every throw on the field, especially tough throws in traffic. So, I’m going with Tyler Bray, the bottle tosser. He averaged 283 yards per game through the air last year, and he missed five games with a broken thumb. If not for his injury, he would have easily amassed 3,000 yards through the air. I look for him to throw for 30 touchdowns this year with all the potent weapons he has at his disposal.