Before the start of 2012, we projected the 3,000-yard passers, and at no time did we ever think Johnny Manziel would have the type of season he’s had.
Four from the SEC have accomplished the feat, tying the Big 12, a conference that always gets recognized for the “best quarterback play”. Last year, the SEC had only two passers over 3,000 yards.
Here are the ones who made the illustrious group for 2012:
Tyler Bray, Tennessee (JR): Tyler Bray may have a Friday night head, but he has a Sunday afternoon arm. I’m not sure I’ve seen a stronger arm in all of college football, and Bray really had a strong season from a numbers standpoint. Yes, there’s little leadership in that hard head of his, and few big games against worthy opponents, but he has all the qualities to be a player at the next level. Bray led the SEC in passing yardage with 3,612 yards and 34 touchdowns, to go along with his 12 interceptions. He was the only SEC passer to average over 300 yards per game at 301. Bray had quite possibly the two best receivers to throw to in Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson throughout the season. It remains to be seen whether the California native and current junior will return for his senior season in Knoxville. I don’t think he will.
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (FR): Yet another article talking about numbers, so we have to get into the explosive season of Johnny Manziel. Dual-threat quarterbacks always are known for their running ability, and while Manziel is a slippery runner in the open field, his passing ability is way overshadowed and underrated. He threw for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns, with just eight interceptions. He had the fourth best passer rating in the SEC with 155.85 and averaged 284.9 yards per game through the air. Teams were forced to try and keep Manziel in the pocket in games, which didn’t work too well, as he torched them on scrambling plays running and throwing. Receivers must love playing for this guy, because defensive backs can’t hold their man for more than three seconds. Manziel buys time and exploits lazy defenders.
Tyler Wilson, Arkansas (SR): Tyler Wilson on this list is no surprise. He accomplished the feat last season, and he surpassed it again this year. Wilson threw for 3,387 yards and 21 touchdowns, despite missing 1.5 games against ULM and Bama. Wilson was one of the few bright spots to an otherwise tumultuous season. Credit to Wilson and the rest of the team for never quitting and never giving up. Wilson leaves Arkansas as the Hogs’ all-time leading passer. He’s as physically and mentally tough a passer as there ever has been in the SEC, and his draft stock should improve when he gets to the combine.
Aaron Murray, Georgia (JR): You can automatically pencil in Aaron Murray’s name to a 3,000-yard passing list before the season’s start, and he did not disappoint in his junior season, throwing for 3,201 yards and 30 touchdowns, compared to just seven interceptions. He’s playing as well as anyone in the entire country at the position as a pocket passer. Nine different receivers have caught 10 or more passes, and four of them have caught 20 or more. Since the Florida game, Murray has thrown for 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions. We will also keep a close eye on whether Murray will enter the NFL Draft, too.
Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace (2,843 yds), Mississippi State’s Tyler Russell (2,791 yds) and Bama’s AJ McCarron (2,507) barely missed the list, but all have the chance to notch 3,000 yards with their remaining games.
Wallace and Russell could both seemingly get there in the bowl game if they have great games, and McCarron has two more games to get there with the SEC Championship and bowl game.
Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE