5 SEC veterans who might lose their starting jobs this spring
When business is usual for SEC spring football, veterans round back into shape, maybe put another layer of polish on their games, and then get ready for the fall. But sometimes, the veterans just aren’t up to the tasks at hand.
Furthermore, sometimes they get outworked, outfought and just plain outplayed by younger players. Here are five SEC veterans who might be hoping for a little polish, but end up polishing the bench come fall.
1. Luke Del Rio, Florida
Luke of the River just doesn’t provide enough sizzle to get Jim McElwain’s offense out of the 1920s. Completing 57 percent of your passes with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions isn’t the sure way to keep a starting job under center in Gainesville. Redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks is the favorite to steal the job. He’s enough of a favorite that Florida considered burning his redshirt in its bowl game, before passing on that possibility. They won’t pass on Franks twice, and he’d be hard pressed not to be UF’s best QB in several years.
2. Jake Hubenak, Texas A&M
On his third school, having bided his time by backing up Trevor Knight last year, Hubenak seems to have earned the starting job at A&M. But Kevin Sumlin’s annual swoons means the program needs somebody a little more dynamic than a capable game manager under center. Enter true freshman (and early enrollee) Kellen Mond.
Mond taking some third-team snaps has already been the stuff of news coverage. Mond is perhaps the most dynamic QB prospect the Aggies have had since Johnny Football left town. With Sumlin’s seat warming in the Texas sun, don’t be surprised if the solid Hubenak is eventually bypassed by Mond.
3. Bo Scarbrough/Damien Harris, Alabama
This is a two-for-one. You could call either the starter at tailback for Bama and you wouldn’t exactly be wrong. But how about calling neither of them the starter? Nick Saban likes veterans, but look at Alabama’s QB battle last fall. True freshman Jalen Hurts showed up ready to play and by Week 2, he was the man. This year, it might be Najee Harris who pulls a surprise. Harris is the highest-rated RB recruit that Saban has landed, and even if he doesn’t surpass both in the spring, he will lay the groundwork that will have him on the field.
4. Sean White, Auburn
Confession time. I thought White would lose this job last year, to John Franklin III. The undersized passer racks up huge numbers against weak foes, but has shown no ability to move Auburn back into the top of the SEC West.
In his last two games of the season, White was 10-for-30 passing for 62 yards and an interception. Enter Jarrett Stidham, the Baylor transfer who will reintroduce the forward pass to Gus Malzahn. With White out for spring practice, this looks like a foregone conclusion. Even if Stidham bombs or gets hurt, Franklin might be a better second option than White.
5. Jeb Blazevich, Georgia
OK, this is the maybe the worst-kept secret in SEC football. Blazevich started 11 games last season and he’s a capable blocker and a decent receiver. But rising sophomore Isaac Nauta might replace Evan Engram as the SEC tight end who puts up some of the best receiving numbers in college football. Nauta ended the season with 29 catches for 361 yards, numbers that should easily double this season. Junior Jackson Harris might even see some time. Blazevich isn’t a disappointment, but Nauta is such a weapon that he can’t be on the sideline for the Bulldogs.