Grading the QB situations across the SEC
The quarterback position is arguably the most interesting to follow in recruiting to see where players choose to sign and how schools recruit the position. Here’s a look at the scholarship QBs across the SEC.
It’s no surprise Alabama could go anywhere for star quarterbacks and the Crimson Tide have hit up some major talent hot spots for starter Mac Jones out of Jacksonville (Fla.) Bolles, a former four-star prospect in the 2017 class and five-star Bryce Young from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei in the 2020 recruiting cycle. Trussville (Ala.) Hewitt Trussville former four-star Paul Tyson is also on scholarship and he’s Bear Bryant’s grandson. It doesn’t get more ‘Alabama’ than that.
Farrell’s take: Alabama gets a clear A-plus in this department as the Crimson Tide just don't seem to miss on guys. Young will step right in where Jones leaves off.
There is a nice mix of quarterbacks on the Arkansas roster, but they’re generally from the region and the Razorbacks are also not hesitant to take transfers, either. Starter Feleipe Franks is a former high four-star from the state of Florida who played for the Gators before coming to the Razorbacks. In 2018 and 2020, Arkansas landed Texas quarterbacks in John Stephen Jones and Malik Hornsby, respectively, and in 2019 the Razorbacks got Sardis (Miss.) North Panola four-star KJ Jefferson. North Texas transfer Cade Pearson is also on the roster.
Farrell’s take: Arkansas has done a solid job with transfers and recruits and now are getting the most out of that talent. I give the Razorbacks a B.
Gus Malzahn and his staff have stayed relatively close for their quarterbacks with former five-star Bo Nix playing his high school ball about two hours from campus at Pinson (Ala.) Pinson Valley. Three-star Chayil Garnett was a signee out of Lakeland, Fla., in the Tigers’ 2020 class and then there is Cord Sandberg, originally a 2013 prospect out of Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee who signed with Mississippi State but then played in the Philadelphia Phillies organization before returning to college football to play at Auburn.
Farrell’s take: Bo Nix was a five-star so you can’t complain about that, but the Tigers seem to reach on prospects sometimes, so I’ll give Gus a B in this department.
Starter Kyle Trask was a two-star prospect from Manvel, Tex., whose only other offer came from Houston Baptist, so he has outplayed all expectations and could be an early-round NFL Draft pick after this season. Other than Trask, Florida has focused regionally for its quarterbacks and right down the road for 2020 four-star quarterback Anthony Richardson, who played at Gainesville (Fla.) Eastside. Rivals100 quarterback Emory Jones, long thought to be a future star for the Gators, is a 2018 four-star out of Franklin (Ga.) Heard County.
Farrell’s take: Trask was a complete risk and turned out to be a steal while Jones was heavily recruited. The Gators usually land four-stars and, with Mullen developing them, Florida is in good shape with an A here.
Stetson Bennett started his Georgia career as a walk-on from Blackshear (Ga.) Pierce County, went to junior college in Mississippi and then returned to the Bulldogs as a scholarship player and the starter this season. Dwan Mathis had a really interesting recruitment which ended up with the four-star from Oak Park, Mich., flipping from Ohio State to Georgia.
Five-star JT Daniels from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei transferred to Georgia from USC and then four-star Carson Beck was a four-star out of Jacksonville (Fla.) Mandarin. Also, Austin Kirksey is from Marietta, Ga., who transferred to the Bulldogs from Nevada. Mainly, Georgia has had a regional focus in recruiting quarterbacks but also transfers have played a big role - both coming to and leaving the program - in recent years.
Farrell’s take: This is the trickiest grade of all because Georgia recruits highly-rated QBs but the Bulldogs' current situation is an absolute disaster. I think Beck was a bit of a reach as well. I’ll give Georgia a C.
Mark Stoops and his staff have taken every route possible to get quarterbacks from staying local, to heading to Florida and even going the JUCO route. Starter Terry Wilson is originally from Oklahoma and was heading to Oregon but went to JUCO and ended up with the Wildcats. Former four-star Beau Allen is from Lexington (Ky.) Lexington Catholic and then Nik Scalzo, Sawyer Smith and Joey Gatewood are all from Florida. Gatewood, ranked as the third-best dual-threat QB in the 2018 class, transferred to Kentucky from Auburn.
Farrell’s take: Gatewood and Allen are former four-stars and I like the way Stoops recruits the position. I’ll give him a solid B.
There are three scholarship quarterbacks at LSU and while only one is an in-state prospect, all three are from the region and that’s not a surprise since that has been the Tigers’ style of recruiting for many years. New starter TJ Finley is the in-state recruit, a former three-star prospect from Ponchatoula, La., and then Myles Brennan is out of Long Beach (Miss.) St. Stanislaus and Max Johnson is from Athens (Ga.) Oconee County. While LSU’s offense is working through its issues at QB, the future looks bright with four-star Garrett Nussmeier from Flower Mound (Texas) Marcus is committed in the 2021 class.
Farrell’s take: LSU does a solid job recruiting quarterbacks but the Tigers got a bit lucky with Joe Burrow transferring in. They have plenty of four-star talent on the roster and they deserve a B-plus overall.
The Bulldogs' quarterback room is one of the more interesting and diverse ones in the SEC. New starter Will Rogers is the only in-state prospect as he was a three-star prospect from Brandon. K.J. Costello was a former four-star from Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita Catholic who transferred to Mississippi State from Stanford. Allan Walters is a former three-star from New Jersey who came to the Bulldogs from Vanderbilt. And Justin Stolberg started his career at Louisiana Tech before going to junior college and then to Starkville. Stolberg is originally from Covington, La.
Farrell’s take: It’s been very average overall for Mississippi State when it comes to landing big names and keeping them. Costello has been a bust. The Bulldogs get a C.
Three former three-star scholarship quarterbacks make up Missouri’s room with the Tigers staying local, going to Texas and also Ohio. Connor Bazelak is from Dayton (Ohio) Archbishop Alter and Shawn Robinson ended up as a three-star from DeSoto, Texas, who transferred from TCU to Missouri. The Tigers’ local prospect is high three-star Brady Cook from St. Louis (Mo.) Chaminade who signed in the 2020 class.
Farrell’s take: Missouri isn’t known for landing big-name quarterbacks anymore but they do get some solid three-stars and I like Eli Drinkwitz and his abilities. Missouri gets a B-minus.
Starter Matt Corral is a former high four-star who finished his high school career at Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, but other than him there is a local feel to Ole Miss’ quarterback room. John Rhys Plumlee is out of Hattiesburg (Miss.) Oak Grove and Kinkead Dent is from Jackson (Miss.) Jackson Academy. What stands out most for the Rebels is that Corral was at one time committed to USC and Plumlee had been pledged to Georgia.
Farrell’s take: Ole Miss does a solid job landing quarterbacks and Corral was someone they took a chance on from California. He’s been up and down but has elite talent. Overall, the Rebels get a B for the prospects they have brought in.
Other than former starter Ryan Hilinsski, a former four-star prospect from Orange (Calif.) Lutheran, the Gamecocks did not need to travel far for their quarterbacks. Starter Collin Hill is a transfer from Colorado State but even he’s originally from Spartanburg (S.C.) Dorman. Four-star Luke Doty is out of Myrtle Beach and three-star Jay Urich is from Piedmont (S.C.) Wren.
Farrell’s take: Believe it or not, the Gamecocks do a good job recruiting quarterbacks and usually land a four-star. Development is another issue, but South Carolina a B-plus in the recruiting department.
Some Tennessee quarterbacks are regional and some are not including Jarrett Guarantano, who flirted with a five-star ranking before finishing No. 37 nationally in the 2016 class out of Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic. Presumably next in line for the Vols is former five-star Harrison Bailey, a 2020 prospect out of Marietta, Ga. Brian Maurer played at Ocala (Fla.) West Port and Tennessee went all the way to California for JT Shrout from Newhall (Calif.) Hart.
Farrell’s take: Guarantano was a big-name recruit and Bailey was a five-star but the Vols' offense is horrible. But this is about recruiting and not development, so Tennessee gets an A.
Texas A&M has an interesting mix of quarterbacks and a lot of debate about all three of their rankings has been at the forefront of recent discussions. Starter Kellen Mond is a former five-star who is originally from San Antonio but finished his career off at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy. Zach Calzada ended up as a high three-star in the 2019 class out of Sugar Hill (Ga.) Lanier and Haynes King was the 2020 prize, ending up as another high three-star from Longview, Tex.
Farrell’s take: Mond was a much-disputed five-star but keeps getting better while the latest have been three-stars. The Aggies get a middling grade of B here.
Derek Mason and his staff have gone all over in search for that spark on offense as starting quarterback Ken Seals is a former three-star from Weatherford, Texas, and is playing as a freshman. Mike Wright is a former four-star QB from Georgia, Jeremy Moussa is out of Southern California and Danny Clark is a well-traveled QB who was a three-star out of Kentucky who signed with Ohio State, then went to junior college and landed with the Commodores.
Farrell’s take: Vandy doesn’t do a bad job luring quarterbacks but the Commodores just don’t have the talent surrounding their signal callers. They still get a B-minus.