Top 5 Quarterbacks In The SEC 2017
It has been said again and again, the SEC struggled at quarterback in the 2016 season. That is an issue that should be resolved as we approach the 2017 season. With a combination of young quarterbacks being more experienced and some new blood at the position, this should be a fun year for the passing game. The question has to be asked, who is the best in the SEC?
5. Jake Bentley (South Carolina)
Jake Bentley is a very interesting story. This is a player that should have been a high school senior in 2016, but instead he was throwing touchdown passes and upsetting the Tennessee Volunteers.
In seven starts, he went 4-3 as starter and just lit up the South Florida defense in the Birmingham Bowl. Bentley had a solid completion percentage at 66% with 202.9 yards a game. With Rico Dowdle at running back and Deebo Samuel at receiver, Jake Bentley should take that next step and be one of the best in the Southeastern Conference.
4. Jarrett Stidham (Auburn)
I know what you must be thinking, Jeremy Johnson was hyped up just two seasons ago and Auburn was a letdown. Well, Jarrett Stidham is NOT Jeremy Johnson! Feel better Auburn fans? In this situation, we have seen big time game evidence that the quarterback is a legit player.
During the 2015 season Jarrett Stidham started three games for the Baylor Bears, and just lit up Big 12 defenses. Stidham threw for 1,265 yards and had a completion percentage of 69%. In a 31-24 road victory against Kansas State, he threw for 419 yards and 3 touchdowns. That is no small feat by any player.
Now, why will he be good at Auburn? Just look at what Auburn was in 2016 before Sean White went down with injury. The Tigers have a returning backfield of Kerryon Johnson and Kamyrn Pettway with young and super talents crop of receivers. That is a formula that equal success.
3. Jalen Hurts (Alabama)
2017 will give the Tide fans something they have not had in years. It will be the first time since A.J. McCarron that Alabama will return a starting quarterback. Without a doubt Jalen Hurts put up some very impressive numbers in his first season under Lane Kiffin.
If you saw the spring game, then you know that those number could get even better under new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. That man knows what a good quarterback looks like. (Coached the goat Tom Brady in New England if you live under a rock)
Jalen Hurts was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year, but ranked #3? Well, he needs to improve on his down the field accuracy. This is a part of his game that obviously got exposed by the Clemson Tigers in the National Championship Game when he went 13/31 and completed 42%. If this improves with the talent he has around him look for the Crimson Tide to win a fourth SEC Championship.
2. Nick Fitzgerald (Mississippi State)
I know Mississippi State was a team that went 6-7 last season, and did not look good at time. What did look good though was the play of Nick Fitzgerald. People really need to give head coach Dan Mullen a lot of credit when it comes to his development of quarterbacks.
Look at some of the guys he has worked with. Alex Smith, Tim Tebow, Dak Prescott, and now Nick Fitzgerald. That list is very impressive, and it is a big reason why this writer believes Dan Mullen is the second best coach in the conference.
In his first year as starter, Fitzgerald had a total of 3,798 yards and 37 touchdowns. That is 1,029 more yards and 14 more touchdowns than Dak Prescotts’ first year as starter for the Bulldogs.
Now with all that said he does need to work on one thing, he has to get better at his accuracy. Having a 54% completion percentage in the SEC just will not cut it, but if it improves Mississippi State could be a sleeper in the SEC West.
1. Austin Allen (Arkansas)
First off, Austin Allen is absolutely the toughest quarterback this conference has seen in years. The shot this kid took week after week and still got up to play the next play in phenomenal. As a team Arkansas allowed 35 sacks and most of those were taken by Allen. In comparison, the Razorbacks only allowed 14 in 2016. Austin Allen led the conference with 3,430 yards with 25 touchdowns as well that was second behind Joshua Dobbs of Tennessee.
When you glance at the SEC, which quarterback seems the most pro ready? Some will say Stidham, Bentley, or even Eason. To this writer, it has to Austin Allen just because of that toughness and will to compete. Austin Allen is primed for another big season, and he will have to do that for the Razorbacks to have any kind of success this upcoming season.
So, what do you think? Who is the best signal caller in the SEC? Comment, and let us know!
Please, check out my podcast The Sideline Review. On the last episode I discussed the Tennessee Volunteers with Bleacher Reports’ Brad Shepard. You can check it out on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, Soundcloud, and Spreaker.