Football season is coming. It is less than 100 days until the season kicks off in Orlando with Florida taking on Miami.
Florida is like many other SEC programs as they have an entrenched or experienced starter at the quarterback position. With Feleipe Franks under center for the Gators and other stars returning this season, I believe that this is going to be the best season for quarterback play in the SEC in a long time.
Without question the star of the SEC quarterback group is Alabama signal caller Tua Tagovailoa. He is one of the Heisman Trophy preseason favorites along with Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. Tagovailoa had a stellar sophomore season, throwing for nearly 4,000 yards through the air and 43 touchdowns.
In my mind, the quarterback who doesn’t get as much attention as he should, mainly because of Tagovailoa, is Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm. Fromm beat out former star recruits in Jacob Eason and Justin Fields in back to back years. He has led the Bulldogs to success the last two years, and it won’t be a shock if he is in contention to be a Heisman finalist.
Other starters who return to their schools along with Franks are Kellen Mond at Texas A&M, Jake Bentley at South Carolina, Terry Wilson at Kentucky, Joe Burrow at LSU and Jarrett Guarantano at Tennessee. All of these quarterbacks are experienced in their systems, and I think that Mond is the one who is set for a break out season. Burrow is another player who had his best game of the season last year in their bowl game, and I expect him to excel this fall as well.
Other SEC programs may not have starters who started for their program, but they don’t lack for experience as they brought in graduate transfers who are eligible. Missouri went and grabbed Kelly Bryant from Clemson. Arkansas brings in Ben Hicks who played for Chad Morris at SMU, and former Texas A&M quarterback Nick Starkel. Vanderbilt is trying to replace Kyle Shurmur with Ball State transfer Riley Neal. Lastly and the most recent transfer is Tommy Stevens to Mississippi State. Stevens was set to start at Penn State this year, but is familiar with Joe Moorhead, his offensive coordinator two seasons ago.
The only schools who will trot out quarterbacks who are relatively unexperienced are Auburn and Ole Miss. I expect top 100 recruit and redshirt freshman Matt Corral to start for the Rebels. At Auburn, the battle is between true freshman Bo Nix and redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood. I think the battle will be decided in the fall, but Gatewood had a slight edge in the competition.
The SEC is full of talented and experienced quarterbacks as evidenced by eight of the fourteen teams bringing back their starter. The SEC has the high end NFL talent in Tagovailoa and Fromm, but the rest of the quarterbacks are really good, too. The play of these quarterbacks is one reason the SEC will have a big season vs. non-conference opponents.
› Jake Wright is a Scottsboro High School alum and recent Auburn graduate.