Throughout the week, we have examined each SEC team’s stability at quarterback. In short, there isn’t much at most places.
Even at the SEC programs that have already named starters, most of those situations aren’t exactly stable. As we wrap up our QB breakdowns, here is a recap of where we see the position today, ranking each program from most stable at quarterback to least stable.
1. Ole Miss: The Rebels’ spot atop the list is not based solely on Kelly’s unbelievable second half of the 2015 season, although his having posted one of the most impressive statistical seasons in league history certainly helps. Ole Miss also has Shea Patterson and Jason Pellerin waiting in the wings, setting up the program for long-term success under center.
2. Tennessee: Dobbs was arguably the league’s top running quarterback in 2015, and he should be again. The question is whether he can become a more consistent passer. If so, watch out. The Volunteers also have several talented youngsters behind the senior, leaving the position in good shape for the future.
3. Texas A&M: If Oklahoma transfer Trevor Knight falls on his face, the Aggies will plummet in these rankings. But we expect him to excel in a potent offensive system loaded with playmakers at receiver. Jake Hubenak is an OK backup, but the Aggies are highly unproven behind the starter.
4. Alabama: Lane Kiffin deserves the benefit of the doubt. In each of the past two seasons, he held an open competition for the quarterback job and found someone who excelled. The Crimson Tide offensive coordinator will do that again, whether he goes with freshman Jalen Hurts or with a guy who has been around the program longer in Cooper Bateman or Blake Barnett.
5. LSU: The good: LSU has two quarterbacks (starter Brandon Harris and backup Danny Etling) with starting experience. The bad: A lot of that experience was negative. Harris is entering his second season as LSU’s starter. If he raises his completion percentage, the Tigers will be in great shape.
6. Florida: Nobody on the roster has taken a snap at Florida. But while transfers Luke Del Rio and Austin Appleby and freshmen Kyle Trask and Feleipe Franks are inexperienced as Gators, this is a nice mix of veteran guile and young talent. Del Rio had a great spring game and has earned the first shot at leading Florida’s offense.
7. Georgia: True freshman quarterbacks are rarely the immediate saviors they’re made out to be as recruits. Jacob Eason seems to be a star in the making, but first-year head coach Kirby Smart might go with a veteran such as Greyson Lambert or Brice Ramsey at first. Smart hasn’t showed his hand yet.
8. Arkansas: Austin Allen played well enough in the spring to take over for older brother Brandon as Arkansas’ starter. However, neither Austin Allen nor any of the even less experienced quarterbacks who trail him on the depth chart have started a college game yet. The Razorbacks have depth and talent at quarterback and at the skill positions, though.
9. Auburn: Gus Malzahn finally announced Thursday that Sean White -- who shared starts with Jeremy Johnson last season -- will take the first snaps against Clemson. Did White truly win the job or was he the steadiest out of three mediocre options? The Tigers desperately need more from the QB position than they got from White and Johnson in 2015.
10. South Carolina: Down the road, the Gamecocks will rank higher on this list. True freshmen Brandon McIlwain and Jake Bentley both have star potential. But playing well now will be a tall order, particularly with limited skill talent around them. McIlwain and senior Perry Orth are both slated to play Thursday against Vanderbilt.
11. Missouri: Drew Lock took over as the starter last season when veteran Maty Mauk crumbled, so at least the sophomore now has some experience. It was a rocky year for Lock and the Tigers, though, and they don’t appear to have much firepower now, either. The depth chart behind Lock also seems shaky.
12. Kentucky: As with Lock, Drew Barker had an impressive résumé as a high school prospect, but enjoyed limited success in his first chance to start. Kentucky’s coaches have praised Barker for his improved maturity, but he still hasn’t accomplished much on the field. Barker has a firm grasp on the starting job, though, as his backups don’t seem ready to push him.
13. Vanderbilt: The son of a coach, Kyle Shurmur impressed his coaches last season as a true freshman and took over Vanderbilt’s offense in the second half of 2015 after Johnny McCrary faltered. The Commodores are depending on him to play more consistently now that he has a season under his belt. Their alternatives at quarterback are average and largely unproven.
14. Mississippi State: Bulldogs fans might make the argument that their quarterbacks belong above a couple of these teams. Maybe they do. But where Barker, Lock and Shurmur have all played in big games, State’s quarterback triumvirate -- Nick Fitzgerald, Damian Williams and Nick Tiano -- has logged either no or extremely limited on-field time. That said, our bet is that the Bulldogs won’t occupy this spot at season’s end.