The SEC will look very different in 2020. The league’s best teams will probably be as strong as they usually are, but change in a conference’s identity starts with head coaches and quarterbacks, and there has been plenty of shuffling in that department in 2020.
Gone are the likes of LSU’s Joe Burrow, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, and Georgia’ Jake Fromm. Even the league’s “veteran” quarterbacks are pretty inexperienced, for the most part. Only 10 of the 14 projected starters have appeared in 13 games (a full season with a bowl game’s worth). For many of them, not every appearance was a start.
There also isn’t a ton of obvious top end talent on the list. Thinks can obviously change rapidly during a year. Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and this year’s projected No. 1 pick, Joe Burrow, were not seen as first rounders entering their final seasons, for the most part. Walter Football has Jamie Newman, the Wake Forest transfer who will battle for the Georgia job, going in the back end of the 2021 first round, and no other SEC quarterbacks projected at this time.
With spring football coming up for most of these teams soon, Michael Bratton of Saturday Down South has ranked the projected SEC starters, No. 1 to No. 14. His list should drum up plenty of debate.
My SEC QB rankings for 2020.
— SEC Mike (@MichaelWBratton) February 22, 2020
Honestly, there’s really no obvious way to arrange these QBs. Putting Clark, a Kentucky transfer, in the last spot is probably the only safe pick. He appeared in a pair of games in 2018, rushing twice for four yards and a score. He has not thrown a pass in a college game.
Here is the full list from Bratton:
1. Florida: Kyle Trask
2. Texas A&M – Kellen Mond
3. Ole Miss – John Rhys Plumlee
4. Auburn – Bo Nix
5. Georgia – Jamie Newman
6. Tennessee – Jarrett Guarantano
7. Alabama – Mac Jones
8. Mississippi State – K.J. Costello
9. LSU – Myles Brennan
10. South Carolina – Ryan Hilinski
11. Kentucky – Terry Wilson
12. Arkansas – Feleipe Franks
13. Missouri – Shawn Robinson
14. Vanderbilt – Danny Clark
Of the last, Mond is the most experienced. He has played in 36 games for the Aggies, and played the full season in 2019.
The group is pretty heavy on transfers, which introduces some uncertainty. Newman is expected to bridge the gap from Jake Fromm to one of the young prospects joining the Bulldogs. Mississippi State is expected to go with Stanford grad K.J. Costello, who has put up big numbers in a much less passer-friendly offense than Mike Leach’s. Arkansas’ Feleipe Franks is no stranger to the SEC, with 28 games under his belt at Florida. Mizzou’s Shawn Robinson comes from TCU, while the aforementioned Clark is from UK.
If anyone is undervalued here, it might be Mac Jones. Tua Tagovailoa’s former understudy played very well after his injury last season. Of course, he has to contend with elite five-star recruit Bryce Young in Tuscaloosa, so nothing is guaranteed.