Updating All Spring Quarterback Competitions For SEC Schools
The Southeastern Conference is experiencing a lot of turnover at the quarterback position heading into the 2014 season.
Gone are guys like Johnny Manziel, Aaron Murray, AJ McCarron, Zach Mettenberger and Connor Shaw. But for schools like South Carolina and Georgia, there is no quarterback competition as Hutson Mason (Georgia) and Dylan Thompson (South Carolina) have already been deemed the starters for the upcoming season.
But there are multiple schools where the starting quarterback has yet to be decided. Here's a look at those schools:
One of the best quarterbacks in school history is now gone in McCarron. Looking to replace him are five different quarterbacks. Senior Blake Sims has been McCarron's backup the last two years, while sophomore Alec Morris, redshirt freshmen Parker McLeod and Cooper Bateman, and freshman David Cornwell will also be going after the starting spot.
After the first practice, head coach Nick Saban commented on Sims becoming a pro-style quarterback (via SB Nation) saying, "he is a 'work-in-progress' and [sic] needs to be a [sic] 'more consistent passer.'"
The favorite, Jacob Coker, will join the team this summer after graduating from Florida State.
There have only been four practices thus far, but the competition seems to still be wide open. It wouldn't be surprising to see it continue into the fall.
Anthony Jennings got a little playing time last year after Mettenberger went down with an injury late in the season. But the starting job is far from his. Expected to compete with Jennings are freshman Brandon Harris and redshirt freshman Hayden Rettig.
According to Sonny Shipp of 247Sports, "Brandon Harris looks a little sharper and more comfortable with every practice and the vibe from watching the quarterbacks is that it’s a two-horse race between Harris and Anthony Jennings with Jennings still looking a little more in control and more fluid." Shipp also commented in his tidbits section: "The quarterback battle is turning into a good one, in large part because you can see how much both Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris both want it. Each of them are high-energy guys with a lot of character, and both really want to be not just the quarterback, but a leader on this team. One thing I’ve spotted with Jennings—and you can see, as well—is that in the Big Cat Drill and goal-line drills, he’s always the first guy out for the offense to congratulate a fellow teammate on a win or pick them up if they were knocked down in a matchup."
Whomever wins the starting job for the Aggies is going to be in a tougher position than any other quarterback on this list. They will inevitably draw comparisons to Manziel, which is unfair. But senior Matt Joeckel, sophomore Kenny Hill and freshman Kyle Allen will still try.
Bleacher Report's Matt Taglienti reported that Allen is right in the mix of the competition: "Matt Joeckel and Kenny Hill are really going to have to step up their game if they want to be the starter, because Allen is only going to get better with more experience in the system."
Allen was the No. 1-rated quarterback and No. 7 overall player, according to Rivals.com's recruiting rankings from 2014. Whilie there is still time to decide, if Allen is already impressing in the months after enrolling early, imagine what he'll be doing come fall practice.
Senior Justin Worley was named the starter at the beginning of last year, but missed the last half of the season with a thumb injury. Sophomore Joshua Dobbs and redshirt sophomore Nathan Peterman also saw playing time last year and are in the running to start in 2014. Redshirt freshman Riley Fergueson is also in the thick of things.
Bleacher Report's Brad Shepard reported, "Seven practices into spring, and UT coaches aren't budging on who has a leg-up in the battle to be the Vols' starting quarterback. While most around the program continue to hint on social media and in reports that senior Justin Worley and redshirt freshman Riley Ferguson are the two front-runners, UT offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian isn't relinquishing anything."
Wes Rucker of Vols247Sports (subscription required) reported that Bajakian is still looking for consistency— "We don't have the consistency we want, frankly, at any position, but particularly at the quarterback position. We'll get there. Those guys, I like their approach. They work hard. But we just have to have a consistency in performance that's acceptable when it comes to the position that's managing the offense."
While it's a foregone conclusion that Mason will be starting for Georgia in 2014, the 2015 race has already begun. Faton Bauta, Brice Ramsey and early-enrollee Jacob Park are the three quarterbacks positioning themselves to lead the Bulldogs in 2015. Whomever earns the backup spot this year will have a decided advantage, especially considering they'll get game experience during mop-up duties in 2014.
The competition won't be on the radar of many SEC fans, but Georgia fans will be paying close attention.