SEC’s biggest quarterback battles this spring

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The biggest thing you’ll notice about the SEC next season is the lack of proven quarterbacks.

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There’s Auburn’s Nick Marshall and Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace as proven quarterbacks. Jeff Driskel is almost there, and so is Dak Prescott. But, largely, the landscape is going to look totally different in 2014.

Nine teams have projected starters for 2014:

  • Brandon Allen, Arkansas (JR)
  • Nick Marshall, Auburn (SR)
  • Jeff Driskel, Florida (JR)
  • Hutson Mason, Georgia (SR)
  • Anthony Jennings, LSU (SO)
  • Dak Prescott, Mississippi State (JR)
  • Maty Mauk, Missouri (SO)
  • Bo Wallace, Ole Miss (SR)
  • Dylan Thompson, South Carolina (SR)

Arkansas’ Brandon Allen isn’t a shoo-in to start, and he’ll compete with early enrollee Rafe Peavey this spring, although Allen is projected to start at this time. In addition, LSU’s Anthony Jennings probably isn’t a shoo-in either, but the coaching staff loves Jennings’ upside and ability. He is the projected starter.

That leaves five other teams that will have major quarterback battles this spring, and let’s break those down:

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Alabama

Players: Blake Sims (SR), Cooper Bateman (rFR), Alec Morris (rFR), David Cornwell (tFR), Parker McLeod (rFR)
Buzz: FSU transfer Jacob Coker doesn’t come until the summer, and he won’t be there in the spring to compete for the job. Sims will try and put some magic together this spring and win the job, and his biggest challenge will come from Morris and McLeod. I’ve heard Bateman isn’t as good as advertised, and Cornwell could still have some lingering knee issues from his high school injury. All five will try and impress Lane Kiffin and Nick Saban enough to put some doubt in their minds about Jacob Coker before he even arrives on campus.

Kentucky

Players: Drew Barker (FR), Max Smith (JR), Jalen Whitlow (JR), Reese Phillips (rFR), Patrick Towles (SO)
Buzz: The good thing for Mark Stoops is that he has options, and what he needs is some good healthy competition. Even though Smith and Whitlow have the most experience, the job could be really won between early enrollee Drew Barker and redshirt freshman Reese Phillips, who has impressed the coaching staff. Towles could be the odd man out, although he has plenty of upside. Wouldn’t it be something for the home-state kid in Barker to win the job as a freshman?

RELATED: SEC East offseason checklist

Tennessee

Players: Justin Worley (SR), Josh Dobbs (SO), Nathan Peterman (SO), Riley Ferguson (rFR)
Buzz: Three different quarterbacks played for Tennessee last season. Worley, Peterman and Dobbs all played, but redshirt freshman Riley Ferguson could be the guy in 2014. Butch Jones wants competition, and he’s got it with four quarterbacks. Despite Worley being the veteran and not a long-term solution, he may have to bridge the gap for the 2014 season if Dobbs or Ferguson don’t take the job and run with it. Dobbs is a nice looking prospect and will get better, and there were some flashes last season. Ferguson is a trendy pick here, but is it primarily because we know the least about him?

Texas A&M

Players: Matt Joeckel (SR), Kenny Hill (SO), Kyle Allen (FR)
Buzz: In Kevin Sumlin’s heart of hearts, he probably wants Kenny Hill to win the job this spring, allowing senior Matt Joeckel to be his backup in case of an emergency. That would allow early enrollee Kyle Allen to redshirt this season. Allen was clearly the best high school quarterback in the country this past season, and he is poised and polished for his age. If Allen wins the job, Sumlin won’t hesitate to start him as a freshman. Hill, however, is most like Manziel of the three, and he offers a dual-threat ability and can test defenses with his legs. This is one of the more intriguing position battles in all of college football.

Vanderbilt

Players: Patton Robinette (SO), Johnny McCrary (rFR)
Buzz: Patton Robinette and Johnny McCrary will battle this spring. Robinette replaced Austyn Carta-Samuels after his injury, but he’s not a shoo-in for the job. Redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary is 6-4, 220 pounds and looking to take somebody’s job. He has a lot of weapons, and the offense may be more explosive with McCrary as its signal caller. This will be an interesting battle, and don’t sleep on Robinette.

Photo Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

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COMMENTS

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  • I would not consider Dylan Thompson a lock to start at SC. He has game time experience but SC has a lot of talent at the QB position. It would not suprise me if he loses that position by the end of August. He is a gunslinger and Spurrier likes that.

  • As much as I’d love to see Drew Barker start in year one at UK, I think we’d have more success with a healthy Max Smith back there. Two years ago he led the SEC in passing until he got hurt (3 games) and he just hasn’t been the same since. I want to see a full healthy season out of Max (assuming his shoulder has completely recovered from Dec. surgery.)

  • I’m going to be honest…I trust Butch Jones. I like what he’s doing with the program and signing more talent. BUT college football is trending like the NFL where, unless you’re Alabama, you have to have a dynamic quarterback in order to win big games and, futhermore, championships. Worley isn’t the answer, neither is Dobbs. Peterman may as well transfer. So, I guess Volnation is counting on Riley Ferguson to be that trusted quarterback. Heard nothing but great things about him, but still, putting your trust in a qb who hasn’t even seen the field (and who is losing the entire OL starting 5). Terrifying.

    • Maybe but I really think Tennessee will look good no matter who starts. If a team needs a star quarterback to be a contender, then the team probably doesn’t deserve to be in the race anyway. When I see Tennessee play, I see a team that is very close to having a lot of the pieces of the puzzle in place. From your neighbor in Missouri, enjoy the good things your team already has, more good performances are coming because some of those coaches and athletes are working hard.

  • This coming season in the SEC is going to be interesting to watch with a lot of teams trying to replace very productive QB’s. I don’t know if I would be comfortable picking any team to win the conference. Auburn and Ole Miss are the only two teams that aren’t worried about what they have at QB, maybe you can say the same for MSU. But it’s Prescott’s first season as a starter.

  • I agree. I do expect Devante Kincade to push Bo in the spring, however. In reference to Prescott, a lot of MSU fans appear to feel that he will take a leap forward and propel them to a nine and ten win season. I am not so sure; however. He is a stud and finished with a top ten QBR, but I don’t know if he has a talented enough supporting cast around him.