Way-too-early look at the SEC's projected starting QBs in 2018
The reasons vary, but quarterback turnover is a constant in the SEC.
Unquestionably, 2018 will bring more change.
How much? Let’s take a look at the way-too-early projected starting quarterbacks.
Alabama: Tua Tagovailoa
2017 starter: Jalen Hurts
If you agree with Scott Frost — I don’t, for the record, on much of anything — the decision to move on from Jalen Hurts should have been made earlier in 2017. Hurts had a great run, but it’s difficult to argue that he’s the better passer.
How Nick Saban handles the situation and finds a regular role for Hurts will dominate headlines all spring.
Arkansas: Cole Kelley
2017 starters: Austin Allen/Cole Kelley
Chad Morris’ offense works best with a dual-threat QB. There isn’t a great option on the roster. Kelley might be a place-holder.
Auburn: Jarrett Stidham
2017 starter: Jarrett Stidham
No drama, no decision. The Tigers will go as far as Stidham can take them. In 2017, that was past Alabama and all the way to the SEC Championship Game.
Florida: Feleipe Franks
2017 starters: Malik Zaire/Luke Del Rio/Feleipe Franks
Three QBs started in 2017. Only Franks remains. The raw, physical tools are there, but the consistent production obviously has been missing. This season we’ll answer all of the whys about his up-and-down performance. If he can’t make plays for Dan Mullen …. The leash won’t be long, not with Mullen recruit Emory Jones already enrolled and ready to roll. An early-season switch wouldn’t shock anybody, but Franks’ arm is too enticing to entirely give up on yet.
Georgia: Jake Fromm
2017 starters: Jacob Eason/Jake Fromm
Check back in 2019 — or if Fromm puts up game-manager type numbers and Georgia’s younger backfield and defense can’t make up the difference. That’s when this race with Justin Fields will get really interesting.
Kentucky: Terry Wilson
2017 starter: Stephen Johnson
The Cats went the JUCO route in turning to Stephen Johnson and that helped produce back-to-back bowl trips for the first time since Kentucky went to five consecutive from 2006-10.
Wilson, one of the top JUCO QBs available this cycle, will remind UK fans of Johnson. Similar game, similar strengths.
The Cats seem to work best with a QB who can run an RPO-based scheme.
LSU: Myles Brennan
2017 starter: Danny Etling
Promoted OC Steve Ensminger wants fastballs. He’ll rely on Brennan, who’s better suited to throw strikes to the 3- and 4-receiver sets the Tigers will employ in 2018.
Mississippi State: Nick Fitzgerald
2017 starters: Nick Fitzgerald/Keytaon Thompson
Thompson filled in admirably, much more so as a runner, but Fitzgerald is the most dangerous dual-threat QB in the conference.
Missouri: Drew Lock
2017 starter: Drew Lock
Lock broke Tim Couch’s single-season SEC record by throwing 44 touchdown passes in 2017. Couch holds the SEC single-season passing yards record, too, at 4,275 yards. Lock threw for 3,964 as a junior. It’s not a stretch to think that mark could be in danger.
If Lock comes close to matching his junior pace, he’ll leave ranked in the SEC’s top 2 or 3 in career passing yards and career touchdown throws.
Ole Miss: Jordan Ta’amu
2017 starters: Shea Patterson/Jordan Ta’amu
The Rebels flipped touted QB Matt Corral, and his time will come. But Ta’amu showed during the second half of the 2017 season that he’s more than capable of leading the Rebels’ high-scoring attack. There’s no need to rush Corral, particularly in a season that doesn’t count.
South Carolina: Jake Bentley
2017 starter: Jake Bentley
Gamecocks fans are excited to see what new OC Bryan McClendon will do with Bentley and a healthy Deebo Samuel.
Tennessee: Jarrett Guarantano
2017 starters: Quinten Dormady/Jarrett Guarantano
Neither played particularly well, and Dormady will leave after he graduates this spring. Given the surrounding personnel, Guarantano will be asked to do a lot more in 2018 than he was in 2017. How capable he is is handling that will dictate how much the Vols improve.
Texas A&M: Nick Starkel
2017 starters: Nick Starkel/Kellen Mond
Jimbo Fisher walks into a very good situation with two young, capable quarterbacks. Keeping both — and keeping both happy — won’t be easy. They’re different enough, too, to provide a variety of looks.
Vanderbilt: Kyle Shurmur
2017 starter: Kyle Shurmur
Guess who finished second in the SEC with 26 touchdown passes in 2017?
Shurmur is underrated and largely ignored, but he’s a steady hand who deserves credit for improving every year. He needs 20 TD passes in 2018 to break Jay Cutler’s career record. A 3,000-yard season will shatter Cutler’s career mark in that category, too.
Shurmur threw for 300 yards in three of his final five games, too, suggesting the light switch has come on.