Ranking the SEC’s top 10 quarterbacks for 2013

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Player Rankings:

2013 was the year of the SEC quarterbacks.

Offense took precedence over defense, and scoring numbers and total yardage brought a new wave of energy and enthusiasm – and the quarterbacks were the biggest reason for it. The SEC has never seen this many veteran quarterbacks playing at an elite level.

Five seniors showed out in their final seasons, and yet again, Johnny Manziel thrilled us in a way only he can.

Here are the top 10 quarterbacks of the 2013 season:

RELATED: SEC is losing tons of quarterback talent and experience in 2014

Three kings

1. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (SO)
2. Aaron Murray, Georgia (SR)
3. Connor Shaw, South Carolina (SR)

Maybe Johnny Manziel didn’t have the unfathomable season he had in 2012, but as a quarterback, his numbers actually improved. Manziel threw for 4,114 yards, 37 TDs and 13 INTs, and he completed 69.9 percent of his passes. He combined for 4,873 total yards and 46 touchdowns, and his creativity and entertainment value will be missed in 2014…Aaron Murray set SEC records this season, and he goes out a winner. Murray now holds the SEC’s career passing yardage record and is the only quarterback in conference history to throw for four 3,000-yard seasons. Murray’s season was cut short due to an ACL tear suffered against Kentucky, and replacing him is no easy task. Murray threw for 3,075 yards, 26 TDs and 9 INTs this season…The quietest, best season in college football was had by Connor Shaw, who threw for 24 TDs and only one INT. He finished his career 17-0 at home. Shaw won’t wow you with his physical prowess, but he is defined by one word: winner. Shaw threw for 2,447 yards and completed over 63 percent of his passes, and he rushed for 558 yards and six touchdowns. He becomes one of the biggest program pillars for the Gamecocks.

RELATED: SEC official visitors down the home recruiting stretch

Two seniors

4. AJ McCarron, Alabama (SR)
5. Zach Mettenberger, LSU (SR)

The second tier is defined by two seniors. AJ McCarron finished his career 36-4, and he’ll go down as Alabama’s best quarterback in program history. McCarron became the first Alabama quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards in 2013, finishing with 3,063 yards, 28 TDs and 7 INTs. McCarron may not have had the season everyone anticipated, despite winning the Maxwell Player of the Year award, but he was the perfect quarterback for Nick Saban’s offense throughout his career. McCarron completed more than 67 percent of his passes in 2013…The SEC’s most improved quarterback – and maybe player – was Zach Mettenberger. Mett’s numbers jumped under new OC Cam Cameron, and he threw for 3,082 yards, 22 TDs and eight INTs before his injury against Arkansas. He led one of the country’s most explosive and balanced offenses, and he stepped up as a leader and teammate as a senior, something we thought would happen in 2012. Mett finished with the SEC’s second highest passer rating, just behind Manziel.

RELATED: 27 SEC underclassmen have declared for the NFL Draft

Dual-threat signal callers

6. Nick Marshall, Auburn (JR)
7. James Franklin, Missouri (SR)

Nick Marshall was one of the most improved quarterbacks throughout the season. From looking like a liability against Washington State, to transforming into an impact player in the second half of the season, Gus Malzahn couldn’t have been happier with his progression. Of course, Marshall needs to improve his reads and the passing game, but he ran Malzahn’s offense explosively and decisively. Marshall threw for 1,976 yards, 14 TDs and six INTs, but he rushed for 1,068 yards and 12 TDs. He’s the highest ranked returning quarterback in the SEC for 2014…James Franklin bounced back from a forgettable, injury-filled 2012 campaign with a great season. Franklin was 9-1 as a starter, throwing for 2,429 yards, 19 TDs and six INTs, while rushing for 510 yards and four TDs. You could see how much Gary Pinkel trusted Franklin down the stretch of the Cotton Bowl, where Franklin delivered another victory. He was tough and trusted, and his veteran leadership will be missed.

RELATED: 6 rising sophomores set to terrify the SEC in 2014

Returning starters

8. Bo Wallace, Ole Miss (JR)
9. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State (SO)
10. Maty Mauk, Missouri (FR)

Bo Wallace had an up-and-down season. He became a better game manager and cut down on his INTs from last season, but still, he has steps to take to improve as a player. Wallace threw for 3,346 yards, 18 TDs and 10 INTs, and he finished second in the conference in passing yards. However, he threw nine TDs and 10 INTs in conference play, and that’s a number Hugh Freeze wants to see improve drastically. Wallace is one of a handful of returning starters…Dak Prescott was one of the biggest emerging quarterbacks to end the season, and he headlines a strong nucleus returning for Dan Mullen. The dual-threat star threw for 1,940 yards, 10 TDs and seven INTs, while rushing for 829 yards and 13 TDs. With another year of added growth and improvement, Prescott could really surprise folks in 2014…Freshman Maty Mauk was the only non-full-time starter ranked in the top 10, and Mizzou’s offense could be taken to a whole new level under Mauk. He finished 3-1 filling in for Franklin during his injury, and he could be a Heisman dark horse entering 2014. Mauk threw for 1,071 yards, 11 TDs and two INTs, while rushing for 229 yards and one TD.

Photo Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

COMMENTS

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  • ready to see a follow up article “top QB’s for 2014″

  • Bo Wallace is a better QB than Nick Marshall. Marshall is at best average at throwing the ball. He is a athlete playing QB. Wallace improved a good bit from his first season, but he had off season shoulder surgery. So he wasn’t able to go threw spring ball and couldn’t even throw a football till this past fall. He played all season with a weak arm. If he continues to improve, he will be one of the best, if not the best returning starters coming back.

    • Last time I check Bo Wallace hasnt been in a NCG….last time i checked bo wallace hasnt made amazing plays to get his team to win. Sorry, Im going to give the nod to him because of one huge stat….he(Bo) threw nine TDs and 10 INTs in conference play. Theres the reason why Marshall gets the nod.

      • Who would you rather have as your QB if your team ran a pro-style or even spread offense. Auburn pretty much runs it 80% of the time. If they had to rely on Marshall throwing the ball then they would be in big trouble. Some of those plays your are talking about were more luck than actual skill. The reason Auburn made it to the NCG was because of Marshall’s legs, not his arm.

        • This is college football where you dont have to run a prostyle to win it all. I like that and I honestly think his stats are all around better. Yes he has less throwing yards, but when youre successfully doing the spread and dont have to throw until you get to big games and surprise your opponents, why not? Bo Wallace will most likely be successful in the pros more than Marshall, but as of right now, in college, I will take the nod to Marshall over Bo.

        • Did Nick Marshall ever win MVP honors for the other team? No? Just bo Wallace?

      • While I believe this is very arguable for both sides the fact that Marshall’s team rode a miracle and some luck into the big dance doesn’t lend any hands to his skill. Did you see the NC game?? His long passes were nothing short of horrific. There’s a reason why he’s a triple option QB.

        • And as much as people hate to admit it including myself (Go Dawgs), Marshall made some great throws in the NC too. And as far as quarterbacking goes, Marhsall was a better quarterback for his team that Bo Wallace was for Ole Miss.

    • @Army – Warranted discussion. It largely depends on which type of offense you prefer.

    • Bo Wallace is an awful QB…he makes me appreciate every other QB in the league. He reminds me of Jeff George with the falcons. He may be the only thing that stops Ole Miss from taking that next step.

      • well…aside from the recruiting violations and probation that pretty much everyone is waiting on.

        • JPDawgFan1..that “recruiting violations” reference-that is pretty funny. BTW, My comments on Jon Cooper’s article, calling McCarron the best QB to ever play at Alabama. He might be too young to remember a guy called “Joe Willie Namath.” And as for Connor Shaw, he was the most underappreciated QB in the country, not just the SEC. (Ask Missouri, Clemson, CFU, Wisconsin, etc.)

        • @USCgrad: Of course I remember Joe Namath. We’re talking about college career, not NFL career. McCarron did things at Alabama nobody did, ever. Career-wise, he’ll go down as Alabama’s best.

      • I guess as a Georgia fan you still pretty pissed about Ole Miss stealing all those top recruits out your backyard. I guess your going to just have to get used to that because Ole Miss is still getting recruits out of Georgia. And the whole paying recruits, my 9 yr old daughter could come up something better than that.

        As for as Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace, just ask LSU fans how good he his, since he lit them up like a Christmas tree the past two years in a row. Wallace had a good year until the last two games, MSU being the worst game. He had the flu really bad when he played against Mizzou and up until the last two games he had only thrown 6 INTs. If I where a Georgia I would worried really bad since Murray has left and he isn’t there anymore to win games for Georgia because the rest of the team sucks besides the RBs. Especially the Georgia defense.

  • In the entertaining concepts category: I would like to see some college games like the NFL pre-season where teams that had to play Missouri played 1st team qb against Franklin, first quarter, 2nd qb against Mauk 2nd quarter, 3rd qb against Printz, and 4th against Hosick. I’m interested in what other SEC fans think of their team’s depth in this position? To start things off here I will write Franklin was cautious, low turn-over, above average thrower and runner. Mauk will be slightly worse in completion %, much better in running. Printz will be laser beam accurate, but not as good a runner, and Hosick is a great athlete with excellent size and weight. What about your team’s top 4 ?

  • To NOT have A.J. on the top tier is just STOOPID!!!! What in Hell do you want from a QB that he didn’t give us? Back to back National Championships and he’s not Top Tier. Your rankings mean NOTHING to me anymore, just like the Heisman, means nothing anymore.

    • The rankings reflect this year only. You want to talk about career achievements? It’s a whole other argument. I love McCarron and think he’s had a wonderful career. Truly, though, for this year only, Manziel, Murray and Shaw had better seasons.

      • Jon, you’re exactly right, no slam to McCarron. AL fans constantly see big praise for individuals when 12-lineup actually made the wins and the stats. McCarron gets a lot of praise but doesn’t earn it all, and in this case when he gets bumped down the list like so many others who don’t win championships, it’s just too much for AL fans to understand.

        • Wolfman
          Again,I totally see your point. Although McCarron gets a lot of praise, if you were to put another even FAIRLY good QB behind that DOMINANT Alambama LINE, those DOMINANT RUNNING BACKs and on the same side as that driven Saban coaching (i.e. only “2 days break” to celebrate 3 out of 4 years of championships ?), good defenses always ??
          YOU WOULD STILL HAVE A QB who won a lot of games.

      • I admire the calm, thought-through response to frustrated respondents:
        ‘I love McCarron,…’though fot this year only, Manziel, Murray and Shaw (ONE INT:; / wins over SIX TEAMS THAT WERE to win THEIR BOWL games;/ playing through all manners of pain to be a leader,/ does whatever it takes) had better seasons. And I ,for one, would agree with your analyses.

      • Did they win more games Jon?

      • Mr. Cooper, please explain to me why you think Aaron Murray had a better season. I readily concede Manziel, and a 24-1 TD to INT ratio is hard to top, but there is absolutely nothing in the numbers to justify Aaron Murray. Have you perhaps forgotten his gruesome performance against mighty Vanderbilt? 16-28 for 114 yards and an interception?

        • And AJ’s 10 for 23 for 110 yards 1 TD and 1 INT performance against VA Tech is so much better right?? He had 7 games where he threw for less than 200 yards

  • I am so glad to see Aaron Murray leave, so that the media can stop making excuses for him. By all means, go look at his statistics, including the all important “games won by his team” category, and explain to me how you justify him at #2, while relegating AJ McCarron to #4. You say he missed a game? True, but he still finished with more passing attempts than McCarron, for fewer yards, an inferior completion percentage, fewer yards per attempt, fewer touchdowns, and more interceptions. Most importantly, his team lost games to the likes of Vanderbilt, and finished unranked. Please stop feeling sorry for Murray already.

    • Difference between McCarron and Murray – Switch the two (McCarron @ UGA, Murray @ Bama) McCarron was 36-4 where Murray likely would’ve been 40-0 with AJ’s supporting cast. Props to the Bama OLine for keeping his jersey clean for 3 years. Props to Bama’s outstanding RB’s. No props to noodle armed McCarron

      • Please. This hypothetical “Well, Murray would have gone 40-0 at Alabama” is nothing but your own opinion, and carries no weight. Murray chose Georgia, started for four years, and is who he is. He wasn’t better than McCarron, accomplished far less, and will taken far later (if at all) in the NFL draft.

        • McCarron may have been third string at Georgia. Murray is a far supreior qb. MCCarron was more of a game manager of a great team. Give him credit for doing that well but that is not the category.

    • Darviathar: How many UGA games did you see this year?

  • Coop, you repeatedly state that Murray had a better season than AJ in your article and in the comments below, but you haven’t responded to a couple of comments that have merit: AJ had more touchdowns, less interceptions, and more wins than Murray. Murray wins in yards by only by 8. But yet, you have McCarron two spots below Murray. What gives?

    • Murray also missed the bowl game, the GA Tech game and almost the entire Kentucky game. He averaged around 280 yards per game and 2 touch downs per game. So you can obviously see that Murray’s stat line would have blown AJ’s out of the water except for wins and completion percentage (AJ’s was only like 3 points higher). But considering the amount of injuries UGA suffered (their entire starting reviving corps and entire starting back field at one point) to come out with 8 wins and to become the passing leader in almost every sec passing category speaks highly of Murray’s season. Not to mention there were several games where he single handly won the game. True the vandy and the Tennessee games weren’t pretty, but again he barley even had a team for those games. And didn’t have a defense the entire season. AJ never had to deal with that type it adversity his entire career at Alabama