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Rivals QB Week: Ranking the SEC

MORE: QB Week | Ranking the Big Ten QBs

Part of Quarterback Week is a look at the QB situations at each program across the Power Five conferences. Today, we continue our league-by-league breakdown with a look at the SEC, ranked in order of which program has the best situations heading into the season.



Review: Kelly was ranked as a four-star out of Buffalo (N.Y.) St. Joseph’s when he signed with Clemson and then was moved to a three-star during his time at Scooba (Miss.) East Mississippi CC. Last season, Kelly threw for 4,042 yards with 31 touchdowns and 13 picks. He also was second on the Rebels with 500 rushing yards and had a team-high 10 rushing touchdowns.

Farrell’s take: Kelly has been a tough evaluation at two spots, out of high school and then out of JUCO, because he's had so many different off-the-field issues. His play on the field to go along with his size, mobility and accuracy make him a potentially special signal-caller and he showed a lot of that last year. His on-field skill has never been questioned and he would have been ranked higher out of high school and JUCO without the other issues. This year he could be one of the nation’s elite.


Review: Ranked as the No. 20 pro-style quarterback in the 2013 class, Dobbs flipped from Arizona State to Tennessee on National Signing Day. Last season, the former three-star threw for 2,291 yards with 15 touchdowns and five interceptions. He was second on Tennessee with 11 rushing scores.

Farrell’s take: Dobbs was a high three-star quarterback out of high school for a few reasons and has played better than that ranking. First, he was skinny and had a skinny frame. He was listed 190 pounds but he looked closer to 175. His decision-making was questionable as well. That stood out when he was a rising junior at the Elite 11 and was further apparent when he threw 26 interceptions over his final two seasons in high school. However, Dobbs has emerged as one of the better run-pass threats in the country and puts the Vols in great shape heading into the season with his experience.

3. LSU

Review: Harris was rated the fifth-best dual-threat quarterback in the 2014 class behind Deshaun Watson, Will Grier, Treon Harris and Jerrod Heard. Harris picked LSU over Auburn and Ohio State before his senior year. Last season, he threw for 2,165 yards with 13 touchdowns and six picks.

Farrell’s take: Harris was a Rivals100 dual-threat quarterback in 2014 with a ton of potential, yet he’s been getting blamed for LSU’s one-dimensional offense last season. That’s probably not that fair as the team's play-calling has left much to be desired. Harris has a rocket for an arm and is mobile. His biggest issue coming out of high school was showing touch on his passes and having a change up to go along with his fastball. With the right offensive play-calling, Harris could thrive, especially with two former five-star running backs on the roster.


Review: As of this writing, Alabama has not named a starting quarterback with two contenders still in play. Bateman was a low four-star in the 2013 class who picked the Crimson Tide over LSU, Washington and Utah. Barnett, a former Notre Dame pledge, picked Alabama over Oregon and many others.

Farrell’s take: Whoever Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin pick, they are choosing from four-star guys. Barnett was in fact a five-star at one point but inconsistency with his accuracy became more and more worrisome down the stretch of the 2015 cycle. Bateman was tall and skinny with a solid arm but struggled on longer passes. However, he was a gamer and tough. Alabama quarterbacks are thought to be game managers who just can’t make mistakes, so Bateman would be the guy I’d pick in that regard, but Barnett brings a lot more versatility in the run game.


Review: From San Antonio (Texas) Ronald Reagan, Knight was ranked as the sixth-best dual-threat quarterback in the 2012 class behind notables Jameis Winston and Chad Kelly. In a unique turn of events, Knight had been committed to Texas A&M for months before deciding Oklahoma was the right place. He now takes over the Aggies’ offense this season.

Farrell’s take: Knight was a Rivals250 dual-threat out of high school who had good size and was dangerous running the ball as much as he was throwing it. He jumped into the Rivals250 after a very good senior season and looked like a good fit in a spread offense where quick decisions are needed and he could improvise when needed. However, so far his claim to fame is a big game against Alabama in a Sugar Bowl win. He’s a very good fit for what the Aggies want to do on offense. He just needs to improve his accuracy and decision making.


Review: Eason was the ranked as the seventh overall prospect and No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the 2016 class, sticking with his Georgia commitment through a coaching change that saw Mark Richt leave town and Kirby Smart take control. Florida made a late run and Miami and Washington tried to stay involved but Eason stuck with the Bulldogs. Lambert was ranked as the No. 22 quarterback in the 2012 class and originally signed with Virginia.

Farrell’s take: Most feel it will be the former five-star Eason who gets the nod here as a true freshman and, to me, he’s the best option by far. Lambert was a high three-star with good size, a skinny frame and a pretty solid arm. His footwork was also good but he didn’t put up eye-popping numbers in high school. Eason is one of the better pro-style quarterbacks I’ve scouted in my career and has a chance to be great down the line.


Review: Barker was ranked as the fifth-best pro-style quarterback in the 2014 class behind Kyle Allen, Keller Chryst, David Cornwell and Sean White. The top-ranked player in the state of Kentucky that recruiting cycle, Barker picked the Wildcats over South Carolina and Tennessee among others.

Farrell’s take: Barker was a four-star coming out of high school who could be brilliant at times and maddeningly inconsistent at other times. However, his ceiling was obviously very high as a Rivals250 prospect and he was more on than he was off when we saw him. He struggled at our Five-Star Challenge Presented by Under Armour in Chicago against the likes of Watson, Josh Rosen and Kyle Allen but at the Army Bowl he was the most consistent all week. Kentucky fans are hoping to see the “on point” Barker as he is a local hero already for picking the Wildcats and any success he has would further his popularity.


Review: Shurmur was ranked as the No. 14 pro-style quarterback in the 2015 class and he was a four-star outside the Rivals250. He picked Vanderbilt over Pitt, Cincinnati, Illinois and many others.

Farrell’s take: Shurmur, the son of long-time NFL coach Pat Shurmur, is a guy who grew on me the more I saw him and ended up as a four-star prospect. He had a swagger about him that likely comes from being the son of a coach. Shurmur's accuracy and consistency began to catch up with his arm as his evaluation progressed. He has a chance to be a very good quarterback for a Vanderbilt team that needs all the help it can get on offense.


Review: Del Rio was a high three-star quarterback in the 2013 class who was ranked No. 28 among pro-style prospects. He decided to walk-on at Alabama before transferring to Oregon State and then finally landing at Florida.

Farrell’s take: A high three-star, I was never a huge fan of Del Rio coming out of high school. He wasn’t that tall and he was inconsistent despite having a strong arm and being the son of an NFL coach. He would make a pinpoint throw on one play and then drop his shoulder and throw an inaccurate pass the next, so consistency was an issue. We’ll see how he does leading the Gators under a great quarterback mentor in Jim McElwain.


Review: Allen was a high three-star prospect who was ranked as the No. 24 pro-style quarterback in the 2013 class and third in the Arkansas state rankings behind the late Altee Tenpenny and four-star tight end Hunter Henry. Fayetteville recruits Allen, linebacker Brooks Ellis and safety Alex Brignoni all committed to the Razorbacks on the same day in May of their junior seasons.

Farrell’s take: Allen was a high three-star out of high school who was a bit of a local legend leading his team to back-to-back state titles. He was a stat stuffer for sure who could put up numbers in the air and also score by tucking and running. As a pocket passer, Allen's arm strength was just okay and he wasn’t very tall. I had him ranked last among 25 passers at the 2013 Elite 11, but his high school success speaks for itself. Now it’s time for him to succeed his brother Brandon, who impressed me so much with his development at Arkansas.


Review: White was the fourth-best pro-style quarterback and No. 111 overall prospect in the 2014 class. The four-star was No. 17 in the Florida state rankings. He picked Auburn over Cincinnati, Houston, South Florida, West Virginia and others.

Farrell’s take: Personally, I was never a huge fan of White as I thought he did a lot of things well but nothing great. But when you win the Elite 11 and then take home MVP honors at the Under Armour All-America Game, you deserve to be just outside the Rivals100 as he was. I never thought he was a fit for what Auburn does on offense, but Gus Malzahn is a great offensive mind and he will use him properly.


Review: A four-star prospect from Lee’s Summit, Mo., Lock was ranked as the seventh-best pro-style quarterback in the class, No. 177 overall prospect and tops in the Missouri state rankings. Lock struggled in his first season with the Tigers, completing just 49 percent of his passes for 1,332 yards with four touchdowns and eight picks.

Farrell’s take: I liked Lock a lot as a high school prospect even though he was tall, skinny and needed to fill out quite a bit. He was a bit of a project because of his frame, but he had a compact release and could get some zip on his passes. Lock struggled a bit throwing downfield and that still needs improvement. His accuracy has been weak so far at Missouri, which is surprising considering how accurate he was in high school. But Lock was thrown to the wolves last season as a true freshman and those growing pains will help.


Review: Bentley graduated early to compete at South Carolina. He was the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in the 2016 class and a four-star outside the Rivals250. McIlwain was ranked as the No. 13 dual-threat quarterback in the same class, also a four-star outside the 250. Orth is the only quarterback with experience as he threw for 1,929 yards with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 12 games last season.

Farrell’s take: It’s either going to be a four-star freshman or Orth, who has been very average for the Gamecocks, so this isn’t a great situation. Orth was a walk-on from Florida who had an average high school career while both McIlwain and Bentley were heavily recruited. McIlwain has a cannon of an arm. Bentley, who moved up his graduation to get on campus, is a coach’s son with smarts. The future looks bright under center overall as it’s likely either McIlwain or Bentley will experience growing pains early, which usually bodes well for down-the-road success.


Review: Dan Mullen said “Nick Williams” will start for Mississippi State this weekend and therein lies the problem – that person doesn’t exist. Mullen will wait a few more days to name a starter and the cupboard isn’t exactly full of proven guys. Williams and Tiano were three-star recruits out of high school and Fitzgerald was a two-star. Finding a replacement for Dak Prescott will not be easy.

Farrell’s take: Replacing Prescott will be tough and the candidates weren’t exactly superstars out of high school, although there is some talent. Fitzgerald was a big kid but very raw and only MSU saw enough in him to offer. Williams was a mid-level three star with some solid offers; he won big in high school but had some serious mechanical issues. Tiano was the best of the bunch as a high three-star in 2015 despite very few offers and seemed to be a perfect fit for Mullen's offense. Mullen does great things with quarterbacks (Alex Smith at Utah, Prescott at MSU) so one of these guys will probably succeed, but right now this is a massive question mark.