May officially marks the end of spring practice, and there are just three full months before 2013 officially kicks off come August.
In the coming series, SDS will take a look at the SEC’s most productive returners over the next few weeks broken down by position.
- Running back
- Wide Receivers
- Sack Masters
- The Kickers
- The Punters
- Kick Returners
- Punt Returners
Everything always gets kicked off with the quarterbacks, and the position is headlined with arguably arguably the top three returners in the entire country in AJ McCarron, Aaron Murray and Johnny Manziel. Has there ever been a trio of that caliber returning in the same year? It’s quite amazing, and it will certainly be interesting to watch unfold this fall.
This is not a ranking, and it’s based on passing yardage. Let’s kick it off:
1. Aaron Murray, Georgia
2012 stats: 249 of 386 for 3,893 yards, 36 TDs, 10 INTs and 174.82 rating
2. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
2012 stats: 295 of 434 for 3,706 yards, 26 TDs, 9 INTs and 155.32 rating
3. Bo Wallace, Ole Miss
2012 stats: 235 of 368 for 2,994 yards, 22 TDs, 17 INTs and 142.69 rating
4. AJ McCarron, Alabama
2012 stats: 211 of 314 for 2,933 yards, 30 TDs, 3 INTs and 175.28 rating
5. Tyler Russell, Miss State
2012 stats: 231 of 394 for 2,897 yards, 24 TDs, 10 INTs and 135.42 rating
6. Zach Mettenberger, LSU
2012 stats: 207 of 352 for 2,609 yards, 12 TDs, 7 INTs and 128.34 rating
7. Connor Shaw, South Carolina
2012 stats: 154 of 228 for 1,956 yards, 17 TDs, 7 INTs and 158.06 rating
8. Jeff Driskel, Florida
2012 stats: 156 of 245 for 1,646 yards, 12 TDs, 5 INTs and 132.18 rating
9. James Franklin, Missouri
2012 stats: 139 of 234 for 1,562 yards, 10 TDs, 7 INTs, and 123.59 rating
All stats from CFBStats.com
There are prolific passers and hardware commanders returning. Aaron Murray has a chance to break nearly every passing record in the SEC midway through the season, while AJ McCarron should become Alabama’s best quarterback in the history of the program. And returning Heisman winner Johnny Manziel has a shot to become the highest drafted quarterback of all three come next April.
The one quarterback who stands to make the biggest jump this season is Zach Mettenberger. With the addition of Cam Cameron, Mett could have a JaMarcus Russell-type season with more than 3,000 passing yards and nearly 30 touchdowns. He’s going to have to become a top passer in the league if LSU wants to make another run at a title. Is Cameron the answer for Mett and the offense?
Kentucky’s Jalen Whitlow is another player who could make a splash in a new offense. He gives the Cats the best chance to win now, even with the new Air Attack offense. Kentucky is short on receivers, and Whitlow’s legs offer the most attractive solution.
Austyn Carta-Samuels could also make a big jump as a first-year starter for the Dores. With two very talented receivers in Chris Boyd and Jordan Matthews, watch out for ACS to put up some very good numbers.
Brandon Allen looks like the perfect quarterback to take on Bret Bielema’s pro-style system at Arkansas. Allen looked questionable at times in 2012, but a more conservative power run-oriented offense will be a better platform for Allen’s strengths.
Tennessee and Auburn will still continue to sort out their depth charts and name a starter in fall camp.
Photo Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports