Grading how SEC programs have developed QBs
Player development is always important, as important as recruiting in many ways. So, how have Power Five teams been developing quarterbacks in the last decade? Let’s continue with the SEC and hand out some grades.
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CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State
CLASS OF 2022 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State
COVERAGE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series
Regular starters: Greg McElroy, three-star (2010); AJ McCarron, four-star (2011-2013); Blake Sims, four-star (2014); Jake Coker, three -star (2015); Jalen Hurts, four-star (2016-2017); Tua Tagovailoa, four-star (2018-2019); Mac Jones, four-star (2019-2020)
The skinny: Hard to fault Alabama much here as the Tide transitioned from game managers like McElroy and McCarron to playmakers like Hurts and then on to passing phenoms like Tagovailoa and Jones. Hurts and Tagovailoa are NFL starters and Jones will be a first-round pick. The only thing they don’t have is a QB Heisman winner, but they have quite a few national titles and they do great with quarterbacks.
Regular starters: Ryan Mallett, five-star (2010); Tyler Wilson, four-star (2011-2012); Brandon Allen, four-star (2013-2015); Austin Allen, three-star (2016-2017); Ty Storey, four-star (2018); Feleipe Franks, four-stars (2020)
The skinny: Mallett had a very good career at Arkansas, and even though he was a transfer the Razorbacks deserve some of the credit for him. The Allen brothers were very up and down, but Brandon had the talent to be drafted in the sixth round and is still in the NFL, so that’s good. Franks will get drafted as well, so all in all - despite a very up and down decade - Arkansas has done a good job. But it gets partial credit for Mallett and Franks as transfers.
Regular starters: Cam Newton, five-star (2010); Nick Marshall, three-star (2013-2014); Sean White, four-star (2015-2016); Jarrett Stidham, four-star (2017-2018); Bo Nix, five-star (2019-present)
The skinny: Newton was amazing in his one year as a starter, won the Heisman and national title, and went on to be the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft. Marshall was more of an athlete playing quarterback but led the Tigers to the national title game, but after that he was disappointing. White never progressed, Stidham transferred in and was overall a disappointment, although he’s in the NFL, and Nix has not come close to living up to his five-star potential. It’s a mixed bag here and new coach Bryan Harsin hopes for more consistency.
Regular starters: John Brantley, four-star (2010-2011); Jeff Driskel, four-star (2012-2014); Treon Harris, four-star (2014-2015); Will Grier, four-star (2015); Feleipe Franks, four-star (2017-2019); Kyle Trask, two-star (2019-2020)
The skinny: With the amazing development of Trask as a two-star and non-starter in high school things have gotten much better, but it’s ugly early. There were very high expectations for Brantley, Driskel, Harris, Grier and Franks and none of them panned out. Grier transferred out, as did Franks, but the rest just didn’t develop. Well, actually most of them transferred out, which is never a good sign, but Trask keeps them from failing.
Regular starters: Aaron Murray, four-star (2010-2013); Jacob Eason, five-star (2016); Jake Fromm, five-star (2017-2019); JT Daniels, five-star (2020-present)
The skinny: Everyone will want to talk about the mismanagement of quarterbacks that led to Justin Fields leaving, but overall this isn’t bad. Murray had a very good career, Eason started solidly before Fromm took his job and Fromm was very good, although he did regress in his last season. Daniels showed promise this past season, so the hope for the future is high. Fromm’s regression leads to a lower grade overall, however.
Regular starters: Mike Hartline, three-star (2010); Patrick Towles, four-star (2014); Terry Wilson, three-star (2018-2020); Lynn Bowden Jr., four-star (2019)
The skinny: It hasn’t been great behind center for Kentucky over the decade. Towles was very average and transferred out to Boston College, and Wilson has been spectacular at times, but injuries have hurt him. Bowden Jr. was an athlete playing quarterback, so overall this isn’t a great grade and QB play has held the team back at times.
Regular starters: Jarrett Lee, four-star (2011); Zach Mettenberger, four-star (2012-2013); Anthony Jennings, four-star (2014); Brandon Harris, four-star (2015); Danny Etling, four-star (2016-2017); Joe Burrow four-star (2018-2019)
The skinny: Before Burrow things were ugly at LSU, really ugly. Lee and Jordan Jefferson helped lead team to a national title game, but didn’t do much more than game manage a great team. Mettenberger wasn’t bad but he certainly didn’t wow anyone after his transfer from Georgia, and it’s safe to say that Jennings, Harris and Etling held the team back a bit. But then Burrow, a transfer from Ohio State, was developed and had arguably the best year of a college football quarterback ever on the way to the national title in 2019. He became the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, so he balances out this grade.
Regular starters: Chris Relf, two-star (2010-2011); Tyler Russell, four star (2011-2012); Dak Prescott, three star (2013-2015); Nick Fitzgerald, two-star (2016-2018)
The skinny: Look over the names and one pops out at you right away. Keep in mind that Fitzgerald and Relf did OK as two-star quarterbacks, while Russell was a disappointment. But it’s Prescott that made Dan Mullen a household name. Prescott was a three-star who was ignored for the most part in his home state of Louisiana and he went on to success at Mississippi State for three great seasons. He was drafted by the Cowboys in the NFL Draft, and we know the rest. Mike Leach is known for producing quarterbacks, but the first year in Starkville was a disaster. But overall the Bulldogs do very well.
Regular starters: Blaine Gabbert, five-star (2010); James Franklin, four-star (2011-2013); Maty Mauk, three-star (2014-2015); Drew Lock, four-star (2015-2018); Kelly Bryant, four-star (2019); Connor Bazelak, four-star (2020-present)
The skinny: Gabbert went on to be a No. 1 pick, while Franklin was solid and Mauk did well for a three-star. Lock set SEC records and got better each year and is a starter in the NFL, while Bryant disappointed a bit coming in from Clemson. Bazelak is off to a great start, and Missouri does a very good job with quarterbacks despite a lack of skill talent at wide receiver most years.
Regular starters: Jeremiah Masoli, zero-star (2010); Bo Wallace, three-star (2012-2014); Chad Kelly, three-star (2015-2016); Shea Patterson, five-star (2016-2017); Jordan Ta’amu, three-star, (2017-2018); Matt Corral, four-star, (2019-present)
The skinny: This is overall not bad and Corral showed great progress under Lane Kiffin. Masoli was an Oregon transfer who didn’t do much, Wallace had his moments as did Kelly, while Patterson didn’t pan out as expected. Ta’amu showed potential but Corral has a very high ceiling, the highest of the group perhaps. The Rebels don’t produce elite NFL guys, but the QBs are solid.
Regular starters: Stephen Garcia, four-star (2010-2011); Connor Shaw, three-star (2012-2013); Dylan Thompson, two-star (2014); Jake Bentley, four-star (2016-2018); Ryan Hilinski, four-star (2019); Collin Hill, three-star (2020)
The skinny: Garcia started off the decade solidly, but he regressed in 2011 badly. Shaw was really amazing at times, especially for a three-star, but after that it’s not pretty. Bentley and Hilinski showed promise and then faded badly and transferred, and the position is uncertain under new head coach Shane Beamer. Shaw was amazing, especially in 2013, when he threw 24 touchdowns and just one pick, but he’s really the lone bright spot.
Regular starters: Tyler Bray, four-star (2010-2012); Joshua Dobbs, three-star (2013-2016); Jarrett Guarantano, four-star (2017-2020)
The skinny: Solid, very solid and yuck describes the Vols' quarterback play in the decade. Bray put up some solid numbers with 69 touchdowns and only 28 picks in his three years and Dobbs led the most successful part of the decade with his dual-threat ability. But Guarantano just never got it rolling in Knoxville and was a massive disappointment after his high four-star rating out of high school. This is an average grade overall, but the last few years really keep it lower than it should be.
Regular starters: Ryan Tannehill, three-star (2010-2011); Johnny Manziel, three-star (2012-2013); Kyle Allen, five-stars (2014-2015); Trevor Knight, four-star (2016); Kellen Mond, five-star (2017-2020)
The skinny: Tannehill went from wide receiver to quarterback and then to NFL standout, while Manziel won the Heisman and became a first-rounder. After that it’s not pretty until Mond arrived and had a very good four years overall. Allen and Kyler Murray transferred out, so there is mismanagement at QB here, but you can’t argue with the success of three elite quarterbacks.
Regular starters: Jordan Rodgers, three-star (2011-2012); Austyn Carta-Samuels, three-star (2013); Kyle Shurmur, four-star (2015-2018); Ken Seals, three-star (2020-present)
The skinny: Rodgers was up and down in his couple of years, while Carta-Samuels transferred in from Wyoming and wasn’t good. Shurmur was really good his last two years after struggling the first couple and the quarterback play during the best run for Vanderbilt under James Franklin was oddly very average. Franklin won nine games in back-to-back seasons with Rodgers and Carta-Samuels, combining for a total of 24 touchdown passes. How did that happen? Seals showed promise in a horrible season in 2020, but Shurmur is the only one in the NFL.