SEC Spotlight: Breaking down QB situations across the league
With spring football now complete at most campuses around the SEC, a few programs that entered the spring with questions at quarterback are exiting with answers. Let’s take a look at the quarterback situations for each program in the SEC heading into the summer.
Starter: Tua Tagovailoa
It was Tua’s team in 2018, but he still had Jalen Hurts looking over his shoulder. It is different this season. Hurts has moved to Norman, Tua is in full control and he is expected to be in New York as a strong Heisman Trophy contender. Jones is the back-up heading into the season, but look for at least one of the true freshmen to play in the fall.
The race is wide open at the quarterback position in Fayetteville, with a pair of grad transfers joining the program to compete for the position. The early favorite is Hicks, partially because of his familiarity with Chad Morris and the Arkansas coaching staff from their time together at SMU. But Starkel will be a factor once he arrives on campus this summer from Texas A&M and Noland is also well versed in the system after playing quite a bit in 2019. This is the type of race that might go all the way down to the week of game one.
Jarrett Stidham has moved on and he is preparing for the NFL Draft later this week, so who will lead Auburn’s offense in the fall? Cord Sandberg and Malik Willis are still in contention, but after spring practice, it looks like the starter will be Gatewood or Nix. The buzz around true freshman Nix is strong, and it looks like he may have the lead entering the summer workouts. Both he and Gatewood are athletic with big arms, but the way Nix processes things combined with his leadership may make him tough to beat. This will be an interesting battle to follow.
Starter: Feleipe Franks
Florida head coach Dan Mullen said that every position was up for grabs heading into the spring, including quarterback, but it’s pretty clear Franks has a strong hold on the job. He showed quite a bit of improvement in year one of the Mullen era and all reports out of spring are that his improvement continues. Jones is a super-talented backup that took a redshirt in 2018 and could be used situationally while he waits his turn for a shot at the job behind Franks.
Starter: Jake Fromm
There is really no story here. Fromm is the guy, and this year, he is not having to look over his shoulder. Justin Fields transferred to Ohio State and like it has for basically the last two years Georgia will run its offense through Fromm, a former five-star quarterback. Jim Chaney is now at Tennessee and James Coley is the offensive coordinator for UGA now, so that is a change, but Fromm is still the guy, and he could be ready for his biggest season yet.
Starter: Terry Wilson
The Wildcats are coming off one of their best seasons record-wise is program history and return Wilson, who played a key part in the team’s success in 2018. He did have his share of ups and downs and Kentucky fans are hoping to see the passing game improve in 2019. Wilson’s strong showing in UK’s spring game could be a glimpse of things to come as he is clearly more comfortable in the school’s offensive scheme.
Starter: Joe Burrow
Back-up: Myles Brennan
Who thought Burrow would do so much for the LSU offense last fall? Not many expected him to throw for close to 3,000 yards in Baton Rouge and to play such a key role in the Tigers' 10-win season. He came into Baton Rouge, took a strong leadership role and rallied the guys around him. It is all his team now with Brennan backing him up and freshman Peter Parrish working hard to get into the mix. Burrow had a strong first season in Baton Rouge and he again, will be a key to their season in the fall.
It looks like Thompson is in the lead here after the spring and heading into summer workouts. Thompson has experience, he can throw and run, and he is an extremely hard worker in Starkville. Mayden and Schrader are athletic quarterbacks, with Mayden having a big arm that drew a lot of praise coming out of high school. Schrader is the true-freshman that Joe Moorhead recruited, so is he the perfect fit for the position under Moorhead? For now, Thompson looks to be the guy the others are chasing, but multiple quarterbacks are likely to play in the fall.
Starter: Kelly Bryant
Since announcing his intention to transfer from Clemson to Missouri in December, the starting job has been and will continue to belong to Bryant. Throughout the spring, Bryant solidified that fact by displaying accuracy and mobility. Behind Bryant, the picture is less clear as Powell and Scott Jr. are battling for the backup roll. Head coach Barry Odom wasn’t comfortable in naming either one as the primary backup to Bryant after the spring game.
Starter: Matt Corral
Corral has put the work in over the last year and this 2019 Ole Miss offense is his to run. He has a big arm, a great skill-set, and Corral will have a chance to put up big numbers in the coming years. The biggest question is who will be the back-up or back-ups to Corral. Ole Miss signed three quarterbacks in 2019, and it is likely to be one of that trio that emerges as the No. 2 signal caller in Oxford. Tisdale may have the most buzz right now, but this is an ongoing battle. Plumlee is not on campus yet.
Starter: Jake Bentley
A well-established starter, Bentley is back for one more ride as he hopes to cap his career off with a successful 2019 campaign. Statistically, Bentley’s numbers have improved every year since he took over the starting job as a true freshman in 2017, but he did have a few minor injuries he played through last fall. If he can stay healthy, with a nice stable of weapons at the wide receiver position, Bentley could have another big statistical season.
Starter: Jarrett Guarantano
After competing for the job last year at this time, Guarantano is entrenched at the position for the Vols heading into the 2019. He has suffered his share of injuries over the past two seasons but that might have more to do with the program's offensive line woes than his durability. With an influx of talent at the offensive line position in the Vols' 2019 recruiting class, Guarantano will hope to have his best season yet in 2019.
Starter: Kellen Mond
The Aggies actually have eight quarterbacks on their roster but there’s one who is clearly at the head of the class and that’s Mond. He showed marked improvement under Jimbo Fisher and nearly led Texas A&M to an upset over eventual national champion Clemson early in 2018. Already a threat with his legs, if Mond continues to improve as a passer it would be a major plus for the Aggies, who have one of the nation’s toughest schedules in 2019.
The Commodores are looking to replace longtime starter Kyle Shurmur and hit the transfer market to add Neal from Ball State. Wallace has been with the program for years, but missed all of last season due to a suspension. While there should be a competition throughout fall camp, it would be pretty surprising to see Neal not end camp as the starter, especially considering his experience at the FBS level.