The biggest SEC news this offseason came when Dak Prescott announced he’d return to Mississippi State for his senior season.

The conference got a little spoiled in 2013, with players like AJ McCarron, Aaron Murray, Johnny Manziel, Zach Mettenberger and James Franklin all good enough to earn spots in NFL training camps.

RELATED: No chance Auburn’s Jeremy Johnson mirrors ’14 Jacob Coker

The SEC may not produce any players drafted as quarterbacks this spring. Still, a few teams are losing premier starters at the position in ’15.

Here are the SEC’s biggest losses at quarterback and each team’s replacement options this fall.


The most pleasant surprise in the SEC last season, Sims wasn’t supposed to start once Jake Coker transferred from Florida State. Instead, he led Bama to a College Football Playoff bid, accounting for 35 touchdowns and throwing for nearly 3,500 yards.

Coker gets a do-over of sorts this year.

The Tide entered the spring with a five-quarterback competition, and though coach Nick Saban has yet to rule out anyone, we will here: five-star freshman Blake Barnett needs a redshirt year to add weight to his frame. (He’s allegedly 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, but we think he’s in the 190s.) Cooper Bateman spent a portion of spring practicing at receiver. And junior Alec Morris seems destined to be a career backup.

That leaves David Cornwell, a strong-armed redshirt freshman, and Coker, a stronger-armed senior. Saban praised Cornwell after the second scrimmage, even going as far as implying that he may have performed the best of the quarterbacks this spring. But, for what it’s worth, Coker worked with the first-team offense during the A-Day game.

At the risk of getting duped for a second consecutive year, I think Coker will start this season. For those conspiracy theorists, Saban could be using what really is a close competition to give Coker a bit of a kick in the backside.


Much like Blake Sims, Marshall’s best asset as a quarterback probably was his athleticism and ability to tuck and run (1,866 rushing yards and 23 rushing TDs in two seasons).

We’ve already detailed why Marshall isn’t an NFL quarterback — he’s transitioned back to corner in an effort to get drafted — but he did a fine job directing coach Gus Malzahn’s offense, leading the Tigers to an SEC championship and coming within seconds of a BCS national title in the ’13 season.

Fortunately for Auburn, Marshall’s backup, Jeremy Johnson, could be even better. At 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds, Johnson looks more like Cam Newton than Marshall. He doesn’t lack for confidence, alluding to lofty personal goals despite the fact that Malzahn has yet to name him the starter.

Johnson has played before, throwing nearly 80 passes in two seasons for the Tigers. But his A-Day performance was his first as the projected starter. He completed 14-of-22 for 252 yards and two touchdowns after a slow start. Though he didn’t run at all, Johnson flashed the arm that could help him to a first-team All-SEC year in 2015.


OK, OK, so it’s a stretch to label Wallace a “premier” quarterback. But despite his Jekyll and Hyde qualities, Wallace threw for nearly 10,000 yards and accounted for 81 touchdowns in Oxford as a three-year starter. Harkening back to that ’13 SEC quarterback class, Wallace did enter last season as one of the most experienced, touted signal-callers in the conference.

Replacing him is critical, because Ole Miss is in win-now mode in an attempt to capitalize on the nation’s No. 8 class that coach Hugh Freeze signed in ’13. Players like receiver Laquon Treadwell, left tackle Laremy Tunsil and defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche could enter the NFL draft early after this season.

Despite losing two All-Americans in the secondary, the team’s Landshark defense again should rate among the nation’s best. But even an average quarterback could sink the team in a fierce SEC West.

Chad Kelly, a junior-college transfer with a troubled past who got kicked off the team at Clemson, has yet to grasp the offense or appear in command of the team. Even DeVante Kincade, seemingly out of the running, and Ryan Buchanan have all but explicitly called Kelly a better quarterback solely by physical traits.

But Buchanan exited spring practice with the smallest of leads in the competition. He’s the more conservative choice in that his ceiling is more limited, but he’s got a better grasp of the offense and he knows what the coaches want from the position very well.

Neither player has done enough to seem like Ole Miss is in position to upgrade from Wallace in 2015, and it may be tough for the Rebels to be more than a very good Top 15 type team.


Again, before the comments pour in disparaging Thompson as a “premier” quarterback in the SEC last season, consider that he led the conference with 3,574 passing yards. Only three other players threw for more than 3,000 yards, and two of them are on this list (Sims and Wallace). Relative to the SEC’s quarterbacks in ’14, Thompson was pretty good.

Gamecocks fans missed Connor Shaw last season, but they may learn to appreciate Thompson this fall.

Connor Mitch, the prohibitive favorite to start for South Carolina this season, completed 10-of-16 throws for 183 yards in the final scrimmage, if you count his free touchdown toss to singer Darius Rucker. Mitch handled first-team duties during the spring game, though Michael Scarnecchia led a game-winning, 90-yard two-minute drill.

Lorenzo Nunez, a dual-threat guy, will arrive this summer.

The entire race is ho-hum to this point, and the candidates are rather bland. As long as the team can find someone to get Pharoh Cooper the ball early and often, the pass offense should be at least decent. But don’t expect another 3,500-yard season from the starter.