SEC East players with the most pressure on them this spring

In a league like the SEC, pressure is like a sixth sense. It's a prerequisite, even for long snappers.

If you represent those three letters, you better be prepared to survive the pressure cooker to suffocate all pressure cookers.

Coaches feel the scalding heat every second of the day, but they aren't alone in this. Players are constantly asked to be Superman as well.

No one is immune to the stresses of the SEC, but these guys are particularly feeling the heat this spring. Today, we'll start with players feeling the most pressure in the SEC East.


Feleipe Franks/Kyle Trask, QBs: It's no secret that Florida needs a quarterback, and not one who can just throw the ball around or hand it off to running backs. Florida needs a quarterback that can adequately run the offense Jim McElwain and Doug Nussmeier want to run. The Gators need someone who can rejuvenate an offense that hasn't done much of anything since Tim Tebow left after the 2009 season. Both of these signal-callers redshirted during their freshman seasons. With Luke Del Rio recovering from shoulder surgery this spring, one of these guys will likely be pegged as the starter this fall. Franks, an ESPN 300 member, has the most upside, but Trask really impressed his coaches last season. Both guys were recruited and signed by McElwain and his staff, so the pressure is on for one of them to deliver now.


Jacob Eason, QB: The rising sophomore took his freshman lumps last season, but there's no question that he could be one of the league's most talented quarterbacks some day. That day might even come this fall, but Eason has a ways to go with his development. It'll help to go through his second spring in Athens, but what will really help him is the fact that incoming freshman Jake Fromm arrived in December with the mindset that he was going to take Eason's job from him soon. Eason needs a fire lit under him and needs someone to push him. This offense might have stout running backs returning, but it will only go as far as its quarterback.


Drew Barker, QB: A back injury cut Barker's season very short -- like barely three games short. And when he was in, he wasn't great, throwing four touchdowns to five interceptions and going 0-2 before his back gave out early in the third game. Barker watched backup Stephen Johnson lead the Wildcats to a bowl game and throw for more than 2,000 yards while rushing for 327 yards and three more scores. Barker, who was supposed to be the future at the position, is now firmly behind Johnson and might not even go through spring ball because of his back. If Barker wants a shot at taking the starting job back, he'll have to get back on the field this spring. And if he isn't on the field, he better be working overtime with his rehab.


Marcell Frazier, DE: He was one of the league's pleasant surprises last season. With Charles Harris lined up on the other side, Frazier racked up 7.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. He started just five games, and 6.5 of those sacks came in the last three games of the season. He could be the next star at "DLineZou," but with Harris gone and zero proven help around him, the pressure is on for Frazier to turn it up even more this spring. He needs to help those guys and turn into a game-changing end that will require double teams and allow his unproven teammates more chances to be disruptive up front.

South Carolina

Jamarcus King, CB: After a hot start, King fell off a bit during the latter part of the season. One of the prize signees of Will Muschamp's first class, King has to get back to his confident ways at corner. The aggressive style that Muschamp likes has to be there for King, who was the No. 1 juco corner in 2016, or he'll fall out of favor quick. South Carolina's secondary was decent for most of the 2016 season, but King could be a special player. He needs to add some weight and rediscover his bite.


Jonathan Kongbo, DL: The once big-time recruit didn't exactly impress during his debut season. The former four-star recruit and No. 1 juco defensive end in the 2015 class played in 13 games, but registered just 11 tackles and one sack. He also had just three tackles for loss. There's time for the redshirt junior to rebound, but Tennessee is in desperate need of quality bodies along its defensive front, and Kongbo needs to show the skill the Volunteers brought him in for. He also needs to figure out if his home is inside or outside.


Kyle Shurmur, QB: If Vandy is going to take the next step under Derek Mason, Shurmur has to be the quarterback that beat Ole Miss and Tennessee to end the regular season. He can't be the quarterback who was benched in the opener against South Carolina, and he certainly can't be the quarterback who threw three interceptions in Vandy's ugly bowl loss to NC State. In seven losses last season, Shurmur threw eight interceptions to two touchdowns. In six wins, he threw seven touchdowns to two interceptions. If Shurmur can't grow under center, the offense will be stuck in reverse.