This is the first of my off season posts about the Quarterbacks for each Power 5 Conference school heading into the 2016 season. Hey, it’s going into the off season. We have recruiting and Spring Football to talk about before it all gets rolling again.
My first post is covering the SEC schools.
Alabama: The problem with taking transfer Quarterbacks is that you have to do the same things every season. 2016 will arrive with Alabama seeking a new starter at Quarterback for the third season in a row. Junior Cooper Bateman played more than any other reserve last year and could be the early leader for the starting job. Senior Alec Morris threw one pass in his entire career and yet he might have a shot at beating out Bateman.
David Cornwell is a super athletic 6-5, 225 sophomore from Oklahoma that I expected to make a run at the starting job last year. Blake Barnett was one of the highest rated Quarterbacks in last year’s recruiting class and some thought he might compete for the starting job as a true freshman. From what I saw, he was clearly not ready. At 6-5, 200, Barnett will need to muscle up a little bit as well. For this next recruiting class, the Tide has a commitment for a Dual Threat Quarterback out of Texas named Jalen Hurts.
Because of playing experience, I would suspect that Bateman wins the job. But, he will have to earn it in the Spring and in Fall camp.
Arkansas: Razorback Quarterback Brandon Allen had a great season in 2015 as the Hogs threw the ball a lot more than in previous seasons under Bret Beliema. But, he was a senior and done with college football. Top candidates to replace him are his younger brother, Austin Allen, or USC transfer Ricky Town. Allen has only thrown 19 career passes at Arkansas, but that’s 19 more than Ricky Town. The 6-3, 200 Town was one of the top recruits in the country last year when he signed
The Hogs also brought in Rafe Peavey who will be a sophomore and Ty Storey who redshirted this past season. For the next recruiting class, the Razorbacks have 6-7, 245 Cole Kelley from Lafayette, Louisiana.
It will be an interesting Spring in the Ozarks as Hog coach Bret Bielema decides on a new Quarterback.
Auburn: Jeremy Johnson was hyped up as a Heisman candidate before the season began only to have a disappointing season. Sean White took over, but he had to play through injuries. In 2016, Johnson will be a senior and White a sophomore. There should be a healthy competition between the two in the Spring. Freshman Tyler Queen was injured and had surgery. Former Florida State Quarterback John Franklin is transferring in from East Mississippi Community College and they have a commitment from 4 star Woody Barrett from Florida. Franklin is a blue burner type that has the potential to be like former Auburn Quarterback Nick Marshall.
I fully expect the Tigers to play Johnson, White and Franklin next season.
White reminds me somewhat of a Major Applewhite and I think he could be good. But, Franklin could be more suited for what Auburn coach Gus Malzahn wants to accomplish on offense. Johnson is the guy with the explosive arm even though he had a rough 2015 season at times.
Florida: Will Grier was coming on strong last year until he got suspended by the NCAA. Grier has since transferred. Treon Harris finished out the season, but the Gators were mostly a good defensive team while winning the SEC East. The only other real option in the Spring is Luke Del Rio, but I wouldn’t count on him because this is his 3rd school already. If he can’t beat out Harris, he may be on the road again.
Florida coach Jim McElwain was unable to land a Quarterback in his first class, but he has two commitments for 2016 in one time LSU commit, Feleipe’ Franks and 3 star Texas Quarterback Kyle Trask.
Hopefully, for the Gator’s sake one of the young guys can play in a hurry.
Georgia: The Georgia Quarterback is almost as bad as the one in Florida. They played three different Quarterbacks in 2015, and none of them was able to take over the job. Greyson Lambert has another year of eligibility and he should start in 2016. The Virginia transfer was beaten out there for the starting position, but he won the job at Georgia and he had some good moments and some that were not so good. Brice Ramsey backed him up last season and he is also the new punter for the
Bulldogs. Faton Bauta decided to transfer to Colorado State for his final season which hurts the depth a little bit. Bauta played horribly in his only start and I suppose he saw the writing on the wall.
The future at Quarterback for Georgia should be Tony Eason who is committed for next season. The son of former NFL Quarterback, Tony Eason, briefly considered following Richt to Miami but decided to stick with his commitment. New head coach Kirby Smart has hired Jim Chaney from Pittsburgh to be his new Offensive Coordinator. I fully expect the Georgia offense to be a run first, ball control such as the standard Defensive Coordinator likes to run.
Kentucky: Drew Barker replaced Patrick Towles late in the season and basically had the same issues as Towles. Since Towles has graduated, he transferred to Boston College where he should start next season. I still think Towles has incredible potential and can go far with the right coaching, but I am not sure that Boston College is the best place for that. Barker also has the talent to do well in the right situation.
Reese Phillips should back up Barker and he has some potential to be good also. The Wildcats would be a little short on bodies in the Spring, but 4 star commit Gunnar Hoak joins them in January. Hoak is from Ohio and his high school coach says that Kentucky got a steal.
LSU: The Tigers return Quarterback Brandon Harris who has a strong arm and excellent running ability but he has consistency problems.
The Tigers also return 2014 starter Anthony Jennings, but Harris already beat him out once. Danny Etling transferred to LSU from Purdue last year and sat out the standard time required. The Spring
will tell us if he will be a challenge for Harris for the starting job.
LSU also has redshirt freshman Justin McMillan, a 6-2, 195 dual threat kind of guy from Cedar Hill, Texas. They had Feliepe’ Franks committed, but they lost him to Florida. LSU fans are frustrated with Les Miles and his offense and the lack of development at the Quarterback position. But, Harris has a strong arm and some great receivers and it’s rather soon to give up on him. There is also the chance that the Tigers add a graduate transfer at Quarterback. Either way, expect large doses of Leonard Fournette, Derrius Guice, Darrel Williams and Nick Brossette. However, the Tigers will need to throw the ball a lot better to be able to beat Alabama and win the SEC West.
Mississippi: Chad Kelly is eligible for the NFL Draft, but has not announced yet. He should come back to school, but I would guess he will declare for the NFL. Ole Miss will be much better in 2016 should he decide to return.
If Kelly does leave, juniors DeVante Kincade and Ryan Buchanan will battle it out for starting rights. The problem for them could be the arrival of the top ranked Dual Threat Quarterback in the land in Shea Patterson. If the freshman is as good as advertised, he could be hard to keep off the field.
In my opinion, Kelly needs to come back and get some more playing experience. Nobody consults me on such things, but he’s only played one season of college football. Hopefully, somebody will inform him wisely on his decision.
Mississippi State: Dak Prescott was a senior and the starting job in 2016 should go to sophomore to be Nick Fitzgerald. Prescott was a great Quarterback for the Bulldogs and the 6-5, 230 Fitzgerald has the ability to be every bit as good. For a tall guy, he is really mobile. Elijah Staley is a huge sophomore at 6-6, 250 that could give Fitzgerald some competition. Staley is a talented athlete just like Fitzgerald but even bigger and stronger. Don’t forget about Damien Williams who played some as a true freshman and as a sophomore before redshirting this past season. He is 6-1, 225 and a powerful runner. Nick Tiano is a freshman that redshirted this past season and will be behind the others. The Bulldogs will be in good shape at Quarterback for a while unless somebody transfers.
Missouri: The Missouri Tigers dominated the SEC East for two seasons until this past season. They had their struggles and then long time head coach Gary Pinkel resigned due to health concerns. He was replaced by Defensive Coordinator Barry Odom who played Linebacker for the Tigers in the 1990s. Maty Mauk began the season as the starter at Quarterback, but he was suspended during the season and the Tigers installed true freshman Drew Lock. In spite of being one of the highest rated recruits in the country, Lock had issues as a starting Quarterback. But, it’s a big jump from high school to the college level.
South Carolina: Steve Spurrier cut and ran during the middle of the season leaving others to clean up. To make matters worse, the Gamecocks hired Will Muschamp who ran off every Quarterback at Florida before he was fired.
Four Quarterbacks played last season. Senior Perry Orth played the most last year. But, Lorenzo Nunez, Connor Mitch and Michael Scarnecchia all played as well. New coaching staff coming in will probably start from scratch and the Spring Drills will be huge for these guys.
Add to the mix, Pennsylvania 4 star dual threat Brandon McIlwain will e coming in and presenting a challenge.
If history really does repeat itself, look for some of these guys to transfer.
Tennessee: Joshua Dobbs is one of the more exciting Quarterbacks in the country. Last I checked, he was returning for his senior season. Dobbs is the difference between an average Tennessee
Volunteer team and a good one. Last season, he threw for over 2,200 yards and ran for over 600. The Vols are still a young team and should be really good next season as long as everyone stays healthy.
Sophomore to be Quinten Dormady from Boerne, Texas is very impressive. He’s more of a drop back passer than Dobbs, but his talent impressed when he has played.
The Vols signed 4 star Quarterback Sheriron Jones from Moreno Valley, California and he redshirted this past season. After Dobbs is gone, Jones and Dormady should have a nice battle for playing time. For the 2016 class, the Vols have Jarrett Guarantano lined up. He is one of the top dual threat guys in the country. Butch Jones is an outstanding recruiter and the Volunteers are definitely on the rise.
Texas A%M: What a mess. The Aggies had 2 5 star Quarterbacks and they both just transferred out. Jake Hubenak started in their bowl game against Louisville. They have nobody else but walk-ons on their roster. Look for the Aggies to actively pursue some graduate transfers such as Trevor Knight from Oklahoma. But, if they don’t land anyone they could be in serious trouble if Hubenak gets injured.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores had some success under past coach James Franklin, but now they are back to the Vanderbilt we all know and love. Head coach Derek Mason has struggled, but they played decent defense most of the year and maybe their offense will come around this season under more experienced Quarterbacks.
Johnny McCrary, a big junior to be, started most of their games. But, he threw twice as many Interceptions as he did Touchdowns. He will probably lose his job to sophomore Kyle Shurmur who came on late last season and had a couple of good games. Another option could be junior Wade Freebeck, but he played more as a freshman than he did as a sophomore. He played high school football at St Thomas Aquinas in Ft Lauderdale and I would hate to give up on the guy. They have a commitment from a 3 star Quarterback from Sevierville, Tennessee named Deuce Wallace. You have to like a guy named Deuce and figure he will be a surprise.