Published January 13, 2014 - 1:15pmNEW: Follow on facebook -
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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:
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.
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.
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.
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