Ranking the SEC East quarterbacks heading into 2018
Having a good quarterback is important no matter what level of football you play, but not all SEC East teams enter the 2018 season with the same level of confidence in who they have at the position.
From stars like Mizzou’s Drew Lock to question marks at Florida and Kentucky, there’s a wide range of quarterback talent in the division heading into the spring and summer sessions.
Quarterbacks aren’t everything, of course, but having a great one is better than the alternative, and a few SEC East teams need to find some answers quickly.
Here’s a look at how each SEC East team’s quarterback situation looks heading into the 2018 season:
1. Drew Lock, Mizzou
Lock led the nation in touchdown passes in 2017, tossing an SEC-record 44 for the Tigers’ high-powered offense. However, he’ll be working with a new offensive coordinator this year in Derek Dooley, so it remains to be seen what kind of offense Mizzou runs this fall.
Still, Lock is a legitimate NFL prospect and could work his way into the No. 1 overall pick discussion if he has another big year.
There aren’t many quarterbacks in the country with Lock’s arm strength and ability to throw a deep ball, so it’s fair to expect more great things from the rising senior in 2018. Lock led the nation with the most completions of 50 yards of more last season and was top 10 in 20-, 30- and 40-yard completions. He led the SEC in all four.
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2. Jake Fromm, Georgia
Fromm wasn’t relied on to carry the Bulldogs’ offense in 2017, but when he needed to make a play, he did it more often than not.
Among freshman QBs, Fromm led the nation with 24 touchdown passes and was second in yards with 2,694 passing yards to Virginia Tech redshirt freshman Josh Jackson. Fromm will have all spring and summer to hone his craft even more.
With star RBs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel off to the NFL, Fromm will be counted on even more in 2018, and from all indications, he should be ready to answer the bell.
3. Kyle Shurmur, Vanderbilt
Shurmur took a huge step forward in 2017, going from 9 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2016 to 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2017.
Even though his supporting cast remained mostly the same, Shurmur improved a great deal and it’ll be interesting to see if he can continue his rise in 2018. He’ll have to do it without star RB Ralph Webb and two of his top receivers, but Shurmur has proven he deserves respect from opposing defenses.
4. Jake Bentley, South Carolina
Many would have Bentley in the No. 2 spot behind Lock, but he hasn’t exactly progressed the way elite quarterbacks do so far during his South Carolina career.
In fact, over his final seven games in 2017, Bentley only threw 6 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, finishing the year with 2,794 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 picks.
Yes, losing star WR Deebo Samuel hurt, but Bentley has a lot to prove before he should be considered among the conference’s elite quarterbacks. Getting out from under former OC Kurt Roper might help, but we’ll have to wait and see.
5. Feleipe Franks or Emory Jones, Florida
Dan Mullen has a big decision to make in his first year as the Gators’ head coach. Does he want to go with Franks as his starting quarterback, even though the Gators tried unsuccessfully to replace him on multiple occasions last season?
Or will he go with dual-threat 2018 signee Emory Jones, who flipped his commitment from Ohio State during the Early Signing Period?
The Gators aren’t very far removed from winning the SEC East title, so this will likely be the biggest question facing the division heading into next year.
6. Jarrett Guarantano, Tennessee
Based on how many graduate transfer quarterbacks are being linked to Tennessee these days, it’s probably safe to assume that new coach Jeremy Pruitt and his staff aren’t quite sold on Guarantano.
Since Quinten Dormady recently announced his plans to transfer, that leaves the Vols in a tough spot if they don’t land a graduate transfer.
After going 0-8 in SEC play last year, the Vols need some wins against conference foes, but it’s not yet clear if Guarantano is the man for the job.
7. Terry Wilson, Kentucky
If Wilson lands the Wildcats’ starting job, he could rise up these rankings in a hurry. For now, though, he’s an unproven player coming over from Garden City Community College.
Last year, he threw for 1,776 yards, 22 touchdowns and 9 interceptions for Garden City, adding 454 yards and five scores on the ground, per 247Sports.
He’ll be counted on to replace another dual-threat quarterback in Stephen Johnson, but RB Benny Snell Jr. is the star of the Kentucky offense.