Ranking the SEC’s backup quarterbacks


Previous Rankings:

I’m all about some quarterbacks. Signal callers are what drive fan interest, and let’s face it – sometimes the backup quarterback is the most popular player on the roster.

Several starters have to watch their back in 2013. There’s Missouri’s James Franklin with Maty Mauk on his heels, and Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson are sure to split some time. But don’t forget about Auburn’s situation – the Tigers have four QBs fighting for the job, but I project Kiehl Frazier to get first nod. We’ll see how it plays out.

Anyway, here are the 10 best backups, fueled by rash and aggressive speculation:

Ace in the hole

1. Dylan Thompson, South Carolina (JR)

No doubt the best backup quarterback is South Carolina’s Dylan Thompson. In fact, Thompson is my No. 10 overall quarterback, because of the ice-cold respect he earns from teams coming off the bench. Some say there’s a quarterback controversy, but Shaw’s 17-3 record is too much for Steve Spurrier to not start him. Thompson threw for 1,027 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2012, and he’s a bad, bad man.

Ready to be starters

2. Jonathan Wallace, Auburn (SO) (Projecting Nick Marshall to start)
3. Jalen Whitlow, Kentucky (SO) (Projecting Max Smith to start)
4. Maty Mauk, Missouri (FR)

I went out on a limb and said Jonathan Wallace won’t be named the starter. Kiehl Frazier should get the nod, but Wallace is sure to get some playing time if 2012 is any evidence of Frazier’s game. And yeah, watch out for JUCO transfer Nick Marshall…Kentucky sits in an interesting situation. They have a logical passing quarterback in Max Smith who can wing it 40 times per game, but Jalen Whitlow may give them the best chance to win now, because he’s more mobile. Anyway, I’m giving Smith the edge here, but Whitlow can and will make things happen in 2013…Is calling Maty Mauk the fourth best backup going out on a limb? Maybe, but he has a rocket arm and underrated mobility. And believe me, with Gary Pinkel’s employment possibly hanging in the balance, he won’t hesitate to make a switch if he needs to go that route. Maybe the shear threat of Mauk will push Franklin to new heights

Good backups for the system

5. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State (SO)
6. Barry Brunetti, Ole Miss (SR)
7. Hutson Mason, Georgia (JR)
8. Blake Sims, Alabama (JR)
9. Nathan Peterman, Tennessee (FR) (Projecting Justin Worley to start)

Dak Prescott could have a big career for Mississippi State. The rising sophomore is a dual-threat pounder at 6-2, 230 pounds. He ran for 118 yards and four touchdowns last season…Barry Brunetti lost the starting job to Bo Wallace last season, but he’ll be an asset in 2013. Sure, he hasn’t looked that good to date, but he can spell Wallace so Ole Miss can run more zone-read offense with less worry…Hutson Mason hasn’t seen live rounds in an SEC game yet, but he looks the part of Aaron Murray’s replacement. He’s 27 of 47 for 356 yards and three touchdowns for his career, and he looked serviceable in the spring game…Blake Sims won’t see any significant playing time this season unless AJ McCarron gets hurt, but he’s a dual-threat quarterback who can do some things in the running game, something Alabama hasn’t seen during Nick Saban’s days. Sims has played in nine games and rushed 30 times for 187 yards…Nathan Peterman could earn the starting gig before season’s end. He’s a better fit for Butch Jones’ system because he’s more mobile, but he just lacks experience. He looked solid in the spring game and should be a factor in 2013. We just don’t know how he’s going to react to the bright lights.

Gentle giant

10. Stephen Rivers, LSU

Stephen Rivers is believed to be the tallest LSU quarterback in history at 6-8, and he went 0-2 last season in the passing department. But with a spring and a complete season under new OC Cam Cameron, Rivers is gaining some valuable experience.

Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports



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  • Lets hope the aggies have a backup. I saw that Manziel got kicked out of the Manning QB camp this weekend. Partied a little too much, seems to be trend developing.

    • All accounts of Manziel was that he left due to illness. It was speculated on internet sites that he left because of partying; however, all statements coming from the Camp was that he was sick.

  • Mauk needs to improve, but he wasn’t bad during the spring game. We’ll see what happens this fall.

    • I think the coaching staff is thinking about the price they paid for Franklin’s experience. They want Mauk and Berk. to CLEARLY take the lead in this race before they demote Franklin and his goals for leading the team to his last game of eligibility. We haven’t seen those games yet where Franklin plays like seniors who sometimes peak so highly. Berk. has proven that he can step in and beat, for example a top third Pac 12 opponents and that is significant, because we haven’t seen his best game yet either. Mauk has four years of eligibility. If he is not clearly better than Franklin now, what good does it do to let him learn the hard way….only to have him get crated his junior year. When coaches recruit athletes they promise and should promise to promote each one to his highest potential and programs need freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. What happened to the O-line can happen to quarterbacks.

  • I’m so tired of you pushing that Pinkels job may be in jeopardy. it really makes me question your knowledge and objectivity.

  • As good as Mady Mauk is I’m afraid his first appearance or two maybe some subceptable to stage fright. after all he did seem to choke in front of the small gathering at the spring game.

  • Yep, even a couple of my Georgia enthusiasts here in Athens admit that Dylan Thompson quarterbacks. Not to boast, but again, I wonder how many other backups own a similiar “Capital One National Player of the Week” selection in their very first year of significant play (2012) ?
    Juicy article,overall, Jon.
    (Side note: Like the others, it’d be interesting to see how much time,if any, Johnny Manziel’s backup gets to play this year !)

  • Really, Missouri’s Franklin is just an unknown quantity because he wan’t even healthy in 2011, when he got great run and pass numbers. His 2012 back up Berk. now has some SEC experience that Mauk doesn’t have, but clearly unproven in stats or eye test. Mauk is putting up the same numbers as the others at practice. I think Missouri offensive line and receivers coaching/execution has to get better before any of these three are getting to the top of the league. I’m sure Franklin can get 1,500 rushing with an average SEC line, I’m sure Mauk can get 3,500 yard passing, Berk is a special running play horse and will continue to be effective, he also has a unique delivery which will continue to be effective, I just don’t know if he can run or throw well enough to stay ahead of the other two. If Mauk doesn’t doesn’t get some snaps in 2013, then the 2014 race gets really interesting with Printz the pocket passer and Hosick who is maybe the best athlete of all 5 of them.

  • It’s 2005 all over again for Missouri. After a terrible 2004, Pinkel was on the hot seat. He had a dual threat senior at QB and a highly touted freshman behind him. Its Franklin and Mauk now, it was Smith and Daniel then. Pinkel went with Smith in 05 and the team nearly missed a bowl game again. They would have had Daniel not saved the Iowa State homecoming game. He basically saved Pinkel’s job that day. I think that Pinkel chose Smith rather than moving him to wideout and starting Daniel put Mizzou behind a year. I hope Pinkel learned from the 2005 season and decides to go with Mauk this year.

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