I’m confident I will take some flake for my ratings here, but I welcome the discussion.
14. Kyle Shurmur – Vanderbilt: The son of NFL Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur has had his problems at Vanderbilt. When you throw more Interceptions than Touchdowns, then there are issues. Shurmur will be a junior this season and maybe things will be better and there’s improvement which you have to hope for his sake and his coach. The Commodores earned a bowl bid last season, but then got blown out by North Carolina State.
13. Nick Starkel or Jake Hubenak or Kellen Mond – Texas A%M: It’s hard to tell what’s going on with the Quarterbacks here. The Spring Game was unimpressive and nobody has really stepped up here at Quarterback. Mond is the most physically gifted of the three, but he’s a true freshman and there’s no guarantee a young kid can handle the pressure so early. Hubenak has more playing
experience, but some people think Starkel will start.
12. Malik Zaire or Feleipe Franks or Luke Del Rio – Florida: Head Gator Jim McElwain hasn’t named a starter that I know of. Zaire is a transfer from Notre Dame and probably the leader, but Franks is still in the mix. Del Rio is probably not going to start, but he is the most experienced of the three and he has some talent. Apparently, it’s not enough. Franks has the most long term potential and especially because Zaire is just going to be there for a season. My prediction is Zaire starts, but Franks is brought along slowly.
11. Quinten Dormady or Jarrett Guarantano – Tennessee: This is a battle between fantastic prospects with strong arms. Dormady probably has the lead and he’s actually seen playing time. The playing time was only 17 passes thrown of which he completed 11 for 148 yards. Vol fans will probably miss the mobility of Josh Hobbs, but Dormady has a really nice arm and might have him beaten there. They are both about the same size at about 6-4, 215 and Vol coach Butch Jones is having a hard time picking a starter which may be a good sign.
10. Danny Etling – LSU: Purdue transfer Etling is a capable quarterback, but he only threw for just over 2,100 yards a year ago with only 11 touchdowns. He’s not overly mobile and he apparently just barely beat out true freshman Myles Brennan. But, if they can get a good year out of Etling and let the other quarterbacks like Brennan ease into the college game, then the Purdue transfer will have more than earned his keep.
9. Jacob Eason – Georgia: Tony Eason’s son came in and played immediately, the only game he
didn’t start was the first game against North Carolina. The 6-5, 235 Eason was an early enrollee and when he entered the spring game, he got a standing ovation. But, Georgia fans thought he was the savior and many expressed disappointment when the Bulldogs only posted an 8-5 record with a brand new coach and a brand new quarterback. Eason threw for 2,430 yards and 16 touchdowns on a predominately running team. He has a ways to go, but all of the tools are there for greatness.
8. Drew Lock – Missouri: Lock could be lower on this list and after struggling as a true freshman, he had a decent season as a sophomore. The improvement should continue into his junior season after throwing for over 3,300 yards last season. Lock is an athlete and was recruited to play basketball, too, but we haven’t seen a lot of that yet from the 6-4, 220 junior.
7. Stephen Johnson – Kentucky: The Wildcats went bowling with Stephen Johnson at quarterback which nobody else has been able to accomplish. Johnson will be a senior this season and he threw for just over 2,000 yards last season and he ran for just over 300 yards. The Wildcats finished with a 7-6 record this past season which may have saved Mark Stoops’ job.
6. Jake Bentley – South Carolina: Sensational high school senior playing in the supposedly best
conference in the nation and prospering as a freshman. There’s just something special about this kid and he will no doubt improve. Gamecock coach Will Muschamp has never been known to develop a Quarterback, but Bentley will excel in spite of the coaching staff. After being thrown into the fire as a true freshman, Bentley threw for just over 1,400 yards in 7 games and caused other Quarterbacks to transfer our. Keep an eye on Bentley.
5. Jarrett Stidham – Auburn: The Baylor transfer could be a great one. There are many doubters saying he had his earlier successes in the Big 12 and not against the great defenses of the SEC. Stidham has a great arm and he is really athletic and can hurt you with his feet. The success in Auburn’s spring game doesn’t mean a thing, but Stidham is a talent and will prove it on the field this year.
4. Shea Patterson – Ole Miss: A sophomore that was forced into early playing time in 2016 because of an injury to starter Chad Kelly. He was the top dual threat quarterback in the country a year ago and he looks the part in limited action. Patterson played in only 3 games last year, but showed so much promise and he looks like a future star.
3. Nick Fitzgerald – Mississippi State: Fitzgerald has a set of wheels like few other 6-5, 230 quarterbacks not named Cam Newton. Fitzgerald had modest passing stats a year ago throwing for 2,423 yards and 21 touchdowns and 10 picks. But, the amazing thing about Fitzgerald is his athletic ability. He ran for 1,375 yards and 16 touchdowns. It was amazing to watch Fitzgerald simply take off and leave defensive backs in the supposedly fast SEC. His long runs brought back memories of former Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones. If Fitzgerald improves his passing game, he could be a top quarterback.
2. Austin Allen – Arkansas: In his first season as a starter taking over the job from his brother Brandon, Allen was actually pretty good. On the negative side, he did throw 15 interceptions. But, he threw for 25 touchdowns and 3,430 yards and many consider him the best quarterback in the SEC.
Allen goes into his senior season with the potential to improve the Razorback’s standing in the SEC West.
1. Jalen Hurts – Alabama: There’s just something about this kid that’s special coming in for a national title contending team and winning the starting job over the highly favored Blake Barnett. Hurts’ stats won’t blow anyone away, but his cool head under pressure and his ability to make big plays with his feet make him a special type of quarterback. As a true freshman, the 6-2, 210 Hurts threw for 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns. He really made a difference with his feet in particular the LSU game when both offenses were deadlocked, it was a big touchdown run by Hurts that won it for the Crimson Tide. Jalen Hurts is a big time player and if he’s not he will soon lose his job to super freshman Tua Tagovailoa.