There are talented former SEC quarterbacks galore in 2019: Who will have buyer's remorse?
If 2018 was the year of the defensive lineman in college football, I declare 2019 the year of the former SEC quarterback shining elsewhere.
There are a handful of former SEC quarterbacks who are poised to do big things as starters in 2019. Whether it’s the offense they play in, the coach they’re playing for or just simply having an opportunity to start, there are plenty of former SEC quarterbacks who can make their old teams regret not keeping them around.
Here are the best candidates to do just that:
(Yes, I realize that Starkel could still actually wind up at an SEC school)
Now did all of those quarterbacks have their reasons for ultimately not staying? Sure. With maybe the exception of Patterson — depending who you ask — all of them left because they weren’t going to start for their teams. Some, like Hurts and Starkel, went the grad transfer route. Others like Eason and Fields made the move as undergrads at the conclusion of the 2017 season.
But all 5 of them will presumably be in starting roles next year. The question is who will make their ex-teams have the most buyer’s remorse.
To be clear, this definition of “buyer’s remorse” implies that a team will regret that they aren’t still around because their current quarterback won’t match their performance. Alabama won’t have buyer’s remorse for sticking with Tua Tagovailoa. That much we know. Even if Hurts competes for a Heisman Trophy playing in Lincoln Riley’s offense, arguing that picking him over Tagovailoa would be foolish.
And with all due respect to Eason, who was in a tough spot starting as a true freshman from the jump, no Georgia fan in their right mind would argue that sticking with Jake Fromm was the wrong move. That can be true even if Eason tears it up in Chris Petersen’s offense at Washington. Though if that happens, we can at least wonder what might’ve been had Eason not gone down in the first game of the 2017 season. The 5-star flashes were there:
In honor of Jacob Eason, here's my favorite memory of a DGD. pic.twitter.com/OoAImuahhF
— Blake Morgan (@bIakemorgan) January 12, 2018
As for the other 3 former SEC quarterbacks (Fields, Starkel and Patterson), that’s a bit more complicated.
Let’s start with Starkel because he’s someone who at this time last year, was the favorite to be Jimbo Fisher’s first starting quarterback at Texas A&M. A year later, Starkel is gone having never started a game under Fisher’s tutelage and Kellen Mond looks like one of the SEC’s top returning quarterbacks.
It’s hard to truly evaluate what Starkel could’ve done in Fisher’s offense because of how limited his opportunities were. All we know is that Fisher felt Mond was the guy, and to his credit, he performed at a higher level than Starkel did in 2017.
In order for A&M to have any buyer’s remorse about this situation, a combination of things would need to happen.
One is that Starkel would need to go to a Power 5 school and play well for a ranked team. If he can at least perform at a Joe Burrow level in 2019 — that’s certainly a possibility given what we saw from Starkel as a redshirt freshman in 2017 — then we can start to look back at Fisher’s decision. I said a “ranked Power 5 team” because that’s what we expect the Aggies to be with Mond back. If Starkel ends up at SMU or some other Group of 5 team, racking up a bunch of numbers against inferior competition doesn’t scream “buyer’s remorse.”
There’s the other part of that scenario that would happen — Mond would have to regress. While I don’t expect that to happen, if he keeps taking too many sacks and doesn’t develop into a top 4 SEC quarterback, the buyer’s remorse conversation will be appropriate.
Maybe that conversation isn’t appropriate to have for Ole Miss at all. Plenty of people would point to the belief that Patterson left Ole Miss because of the bowl ban and no amount of assuring would have kept him in Oxford. Plenty of people would also point to the belief that Jordan Ta’amu would’ve taken Patterson’s job had he stayed.
Remember these regular tweets?
Ole Miss QB Jordan Ta'amu stats vs. Shea Patterson so far in 2018…..
Jordan Ta'amu- 45 of 65, 69%, 784 yards, 7 TDs, 0 INTs
Shea Patterson- 32 of 47, 68%, 352 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
— Jeremiah (@SYRmotsag) September 9, 2018
I’d point out that there were reportedly some major disagreements with Patterson and ex-Ole Miss offensive coordinator Phil Longo, and his treatment of Patterson was what fueled his desire to leave Ole Miss. Let’s say that there’s at least some truth to the belief that Ole Miss didn’t do everything in its power to keep Patterson in Oxford (though it did basically do everything to try and prevent him from playing immediately in 2018). The Rebels are about to start a redshirt freshman in Matt Corral while Patterson is entering his senior season as a Heisman candidate.
Whether you thought Ta’amu was better than Patterson or not, don’t be surprised if there’s some buyer’s remorse there. Lord knows it wouldn’t make Ole Miss fans happy if Patterson did put it all together for a team competing for a national title while the Rebels were struggling to rise above mediocrity with an inexperienced quarterback.
Two teams that we know won’t be flirting with mediocrity are Georgia and Ohio State. If Fields is ruled eligible to play immediately, the box score watching from Georgia fans will be off the charts. Let’s not forget that while 5-star quarterbacks transferring has suddenly become more common than them staying, Fields is a bit of a different story.
The former No. 2 overall recruit spent just 1 year in Athens, and he wasn’t utilized in the same way that Ryan Day is expected to utilize him in Columbus. Still, Fields wasn’t going to uproot the guy who led the program to its first national championship appearance in nearly 4 decades. At least not with how well Fromm played in 2018 (he was fifth in FBS in quarterback rating).
But will Georgia fans wonder about what might’ve been in the likely scenario that Fields racks up huge numbers in 2019? Absolutely. As they should. The likelihood of that is extremely high given the fact that Dwayne Haskins just put together arguably the best season ever for a Big Ten quarterback.
Everyone will always turn to that 4th and 11 fake punt in the SEC Championship and wonder if things could’ve gone differently with Fields. That can be true regardless of if Fromm takes another step up and leaves to become a first-round draft pick. That might actually fuel the discussion even more because we know that Fields will be in college at least through 2020.
So to answer that question in the longest way possible, there’s reason to expect Georgia, Ole Miss and even Texas A&M will have at least some buyer’s remorse, albeit under different circumstances.
Hindsight is 20/20 on these things, but foresight suggests that in the year of the departed SEC quarterback shining elsewhere, many will wonder about the one that got away.
Or in Georgia’s case, the two 5-stars that got away.