Ranking the Top 10 SEC quarterbacks entering the season
Individual Position Rankings
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As the season draws near, quarterback is a hot-button issue for more than half of the SEC.
Georgia, LSU, Alabama, South Carolina, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Florida and Kentucky are each having some variation of a quarterback competition in fall camp.
Even teams like Auburn, Tennessee and Texas A&M, which seemingly are settled at the position, head to camp with quarterbacks that will be considered No. 1 options in a season opener for the first time.
That leaves just Mississippi State, Arkansas and Missouri with what can be considered a certain returning starter at the position this year.
With all of this uncertainty in mind, let’s take a look at what could be the Top 10 SEC quarterbacks entering the season:
10. Brice Ramsey, Georgia: To get this list started, we’re going to make some assumptions about some of the quarterback competitions. In this case, we’re going to assume that sophomore QB Brice Ramsey will win the Georgia quarterback competition over Virginia transfer Greyson Lambert and fourth-year junior Faton Bauta. Ramsey has limited game experience, completing 24 of 39 passes for 333 yards and three touchdowns as Hutson Mason’s backup in 2014. Much like last season, the Bulldogs primarily will be looking for a quarterback to manage an offense that will be geared towards running the football, though Ramsey could take this team from very good to great if he’s able to add a vertical passing element to the game.
9. Connor Mitch, South Carolina: We’re still out on a limb in the rankings thanks to uncertainty at the quarterback position. Connor Mitch is considered by many to be the favorite to start at quarterback for the Gamecocks this fall, but we all know that Steve Spurrier is not afraid to use multiple quarterbacks if he doesn’t think one can handle the job on his own. Mitch, who has attempted just six passes in his career, was a stats monster during his high-school career in North Carolina, throwing for 4,661 yards and 63 touchdowns in his senior season at Wakefield High. Gamecocks QB Dylan Thompson led the SEC with 3,564 passing yards in 2014, and Pharoh Cooper is the league’s leading returning receiver (1,136 yards in 2014), so the offensive and weapons are there to be successful.
8. Jake Coker, Alabama: There was all kinds of excitement around Jake Coker’s arrival at Alabama last season. Some considered the transfer from Florida State to be the heir apparent to former Crimson Tide QB AJ McCarron, but instead Coker found himself as the backup to Blake Sims for the duration of the 2014 season. Now that Sims has moved on, it is again time for Coker to attempt to stake his claim to the Alabama starting job. This time, he will be the only quarterback on the roster that has attempted a pass at the college level, giving him a significant advantage. He looked solid in limited work last season, and should be more comfortable in his second season under offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. The success of Alabama’s offense likely rides on his ability to produce.
7. Patrick Towles, Kentucky: A case could be made for Patrick Towles to be higher on this list, but the fact that the Wildcats are willing to take a serious look at redshirt freshman Drew Barker for the quarterback position tempers expectations a bit here. Towles was one of the league’s more productive passers in 2014, posting huge numbers against Florida (369 yards) and Mississippi State (390 yards), but both games were eventual losses for a team that came up one win short of a bowl appearance. Still, anytime a sophomore posts more than 3,000 yards of total offense in the SEC it is worth noting.
6. Maty Mauk, Missouri: Maty Mauk may be one of the most polarizing quarterbacks in the SEC this season. Some people will tell you they like his gunslinger mentality and believe he is capable of an All-SEC performance because of his ability to make plays (25 touchdown passes as a sophomore). Others will tell you that he needs to become a more accurate passer to sustain drives (53.4 completion percentage in 2014) and is too prone to making mistakes (13 interceptions). Both arguments have their merits, and it is up to Mauk to decide which side of the discussion is correct in 2015.
5. Brandon Allen, Arkansas: Entering his third and final season as the Razorbacks starter, Brandon Allen is one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the league. Furthermore, he may have elevated his game beyond the label of “game manager,” which he seemed to wear for much of his first two years as the primary quarterback. Throwing for 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions behind one of the nation’s top running games helped Arkansas return to postseason play last year. If he’s able to take another step forward in creating a downfield passing threat to keep defenses from loading the box to stop the run, it could make the Razorbacks a really scary team to play this season.
4. Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee: It is interesting how perceptions can change in such a short period of time. After spending much of 2014 buried on the Volunteers depth chart behind Justin Worley, Dobbs took the starting role midway through the season and now seems like the future at the position for Tennessee. The game that stands out in everyone’s mind was a 301-yard passing, 166-yard rushing, five-touchdown performance in a 45-42 overtime win at South Carolina last November. To this point, no one ranked below him on the list has exhibited that much upside in game conditions.
3. Kyle Allen, Texas A&M: Remember when Kenny Hill was going to be the next Johnny Football? Well, that didn’t work out and this is Kyle Allen’s team now. Allen flashed the ability to do some nice things as a freshman in 2014, with his signature performance coming in a 41-38 win at Auburn during which he threw for 277 yards and four touchdowns. He finished the 2014 season on a high note with a 294-yard, four-touchdown outing in a Liberty Bowl win over West Virginia. The Aggies return Josh Reynolds, Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones from last season’s team, so the Texas A&M passing attack has the potential to be the best in the league.
2. Jeremy Johnson, Auburn: There’s a good chance that the Auburn offense may take on a different look in 2015 under the direction of Jeremy Johnson. Gone is the run-first mentality of former QB Nick Marshall, and in its place comes Johnson’s desire to sling the ball around the field. He appears to have Gus Malzahn’s blessing to do so, and will have a good arsenal of senior receivers in D’haquille Williams, Ricardo Louis and Melvin Ray.
1. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State: Far and away the best returning quarterback in the conference, Dak Prescott decided to come back for his senior season with aspirations of improving upon last year’s 10-win season while also honing his skills for an improved stock in next spring’s NFL Draft. Among the nation’s leaders for returning quarterbacks, Prescott will carry the burden of being the focal point of every defense he faces while breaking in some new starters at the running back and wide receiver positions. Prescott does return his leading receiver from a year ago in De’Runnya Wilson, and will continue to be a threat to run the football (986 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns in 2014).