2015 is “The Year of the Question Mark at Quarterback” in the SEC.
Gone are such familiar names as Mississippi’s Bo Wallace, Auburn’s Nick Marshall, Alabama’s Blake Sims, Georgia’s Hutson Mason and South Carolina’s Dylan Thompson. But only one of those schools – Auburn – has made its decision on its No. 1 quarterback in Jeremy Johnson.
With all of these prominent departures, returning SEC quarterbacks have a golden opportunity to make a name for themselves, including Alabama’s Jake Coker, who still is competing with David Cornwell, Blake Barnett and Cooper Bateman for the Crimson Tide’s starting spot.
Based on the conference’s quarterbacks who have moved on and those who are left, it’s possible that someone buried on the depth chart will emerge and crack someone’s season-ending list.
Analyst Greg McElroy, the former Alabama quarterback and the 2009 SEC Championship Game MVP, recently unveiled his Top 5 on the SEC Network.
McElroy ranked Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott No. 1 entering the season, with Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs ranked No. 2, but his biggest surprise wasn’t putting Johnson on his list at No. 3 – it was the reasoning he used to explain the pick.
“Really it’s a guess,” McElroy explained. “I’m assuming he’s going to be an outstanding player.”
Here are McElroy’s top 5 quarterbacks:
1. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State (SR)
2. Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee (JR)
3. Jeremy Johnson, Auburn (JR)
4. Brandon Allen, Arkansas (SR)
5. Kyle Allen, Texas A&M (SO)
Some thoughts on his rankings:
- Aside from McElroy’s rationale for where he ranked Johnson, there aren’t many surprises. But arguments could be made for including Missouri’s Maty Mauk or Kentucky’s Patrick Towles. It bears noting that Allen, who started the final games for the Aggies in 2014 and finished with 1,322 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions, could get a major push this season from hotshot freshman Kyler Murray.
- As expected, McElroy saved his highest praise for Prescott, saying “With another outstanding season in Starkville, he will easily leave that town as the best player in Mississippi State history.”
- McElroy is obviously very high on Dobbs, saying “he could be a dark-horse Heisman Trophy candidate” based on what the Vols’ QB did last season as a sophomore, when he helped Tennessee win four of its last five games while leading the offense to 36.7 points and 431 yards per game over that stretch.