Help at quarterback is on the way for struggling SEC offenses
Help is on the way at LSU and Georgia. But it may not be in time to save Les Miles and Mark Richt.
Teams throughout the SEC are in dire need of a quality quarterback, and several of them, including LSU and Georgia, have replacements lined up for 2016.
Feeling the heat, Richt was busy on social media letting Georgia fans know he flew cross country to Washington after the Auburn game to drop in on five-star Jacob Eason, who has committed to the Bulldogs. The 6-foot-5 Eason, a pro-style QB, would seem to have a great chance to start as a freshman. Brice Ramsey, a highly touted recruit, would seem to be the top returner.
Miles has a commitment from Feleipe Franks, a 6-5 pro-style QB from Crawfordville, Florida. A high four-star prospect, Franks should battle Brandon Harris for playing time as a freshman. Left-hander Justin McMillan, a three-star QB redshirted this year, could also figure in the competition.
Florida, which has ridden an outstanding defense to a 10-1 record, won’t have Will Grier back from suspension until midseason next year. Current starter Treon Harris has struggled, so Jim McElwain is reportedly working hard to persuade a top-notch passer to flip to Florida. The only commitment the Gators have is 6-5 1/2 Texan Kyle Trask, a three-star prospect not expected to make an early impact.
South Carolina has a commitment from four-star, dual-threat QB Brandon McIlwain from Pennsylvania. But Steve Spurrier’s resignation clouded the picture. McIlwain visited Penn State over the weekend, but has not backed out of his commitment to the Gamecocks. Lorenzo Nunez, Perry Orth and Connor Mitch all return.
Auburn will return Jeremy Johnson and Sean White, but neither was successful this year. The Tigers’ solution may be Florida State transfer John Franklin III, who played at a Mississippi junior college this season. The 6-1 Franklin is reported to be similar in skills to Nick Marshall. Woody Barnett, another a dual-threat QB, has also committed.
Here’s a list of other projected quarterbacks around the SEC in 2016:
Alabama — Redshirt freshman Blake Barnett, a 6-5 Californian, seems the likely successor to Jacob Coker. A five-star prospect, Barnett should battle current backup Cooper Bateman for the spot.
Arkansas — The Razorbacks’ QB spot seems wide-open after four seasons with Brandon Allen. Southern Cal transfer Ricky Town, a redshirt this season, is the likely heir apparent. Backup Austin Allen, Brandon’s brother, has thrown only two passes this season. Third-stringer Rafe Peavey would provide a running threat. Cole Kelley, a 6-7 prospect from Lafayette, Louisiana, has committed for next year.
Kentucky — The Wildcats’ only recruit for next season is 6-4 walk-on Gunnar Hoak from Dublin, Ohio. So Kentucky probably will go with holdovers Drew Barker and Patrick Towles.
Ole Miss — Chad Kelly is expected back. The Rebels have a commitment from five-star recruit Shea Patterson of Bradenton, Florida, who could take over in 2017.
Mississippi State — Dan Mullen has tried to break in expected replacement Nick Fitzgerald with some playing time this season. The Bulldogs don’t have a commitment from a quarterback yet.
Missouri — The Tigers seem content to go with Drew Lock and Maty Mauk next season. They have no commitments at quarterback. Recruiting one will be tough until a new coach is hired.
Tennessee — Josh Dobbs returns for another year. The quarterback of the future is likely four-star recruit Jarrett Gaurantano, a 6-4 dual-threat athlete from New Jersey.
Texas A&M — The Aggies have not been shopping hard for a quarterback. They’ll go with Kyler Murray and Kyle Allen.
Vanderbilt — Kyle Shurmur has shown promise as a true freshman. Deuce Wallace, a pro-style quarterback from Sevierville, Tennessee, has committed for next season.