Fresh faces provide for intriguing SEC quarterback competitions

On the surface, it appears that most SEC teams have their starting quarterback positions set. Alabama has Jalen Hurts and South Carolina has Jake Bentley.

Sure, Florida and Tennessee are still trying to figure out things under center, but for the most part, this league should see a renewed sense of confidence in starting quarterbacks this fall.

But there is some intriguing stuff going on with a handful of teams at quarterback. Hurts just took Alabama to the national championship game, but should he be looking over his shoulder at this new hotshot freshman? Does Jacob Eason really have to worry about that other Jake slipping past him on the depth chart in Athens, Georgia?

Honestly, we tend to lean toward no on both of those, but when it comes to the most important position on the field, you can't take anything for granted. And here are seven intriguing quarterback situations facing SEC teams:


Yes, this is Hurts' job to lose. He wowed us for most of the 2016 season with 3,734 total yards of offense and 36 touchdowns. However, he was inconsistent on deeper throws, and in the last three games of the season, he threw for 326 total yards and two touchdowns while completing less than 50 percent of his passes.

Enter 2017 No. 1 dual-threat QB Tua Tagovailoa. There are some around Alabama's camp who think he could really push Hurts this spring and beyond. Taking the starting job? Maybe not, but coach Nick Saban and new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will make sure he's on Hurts' heels for as long as possible.


As colleague Greg Ostendorf wrote earlier this week, it's more comical to think that Jarrett Stidham isn't the overwhelming leader on the Plains. The former Baylor backup has the perfect mix of passing and running ability that coach Gus Malzahn thirsts over. Sean White, who has started 16 games over the past two seasons, is recovering from a broken arm, and freshmen Woody Barrett and Malik Willis have zero experience.

Stidham is taking the first-team reps, and that shouldn't stop once White is healthy.


Freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask are essentially neck and neck in Gainesville. Franks might have pulled ahead slightly, but this thing is far from over. Both can sling it, but both have had control issues. Franks has been more vocal, but Trask has been smoother on some of the tougher throws at times.

Luke Del Rio, who began last season as the starter but went down a few times with injuries, will return to the competition this fall. Freshman Jake Allen also will be added to the mix, but this is a two-headed race right now.


No way Jacob Eason could lose his starting spot, right? The kid is a prodigy with All-American dreams. But after starting almost every game last season, he's getting pushed a ton by early enrollee Jake Fromm. It's great for Eason because he needs to be pushed and motivated more. Eason has all the arm talent, but his leadership has to improve and this is the kind of fire he needs lit under him.

But don't think this is just for motivational means. No, coach Kirby Smart loves Fromm and there's a feeling around the league that Fromm is good enough and dedicated enough to take this competition into the season ... and maybe win it.


This is Danny Etling's job, but the coaches like early enrollee Lowell Narcisse. He has a cannon for an arm and is way more mobile than Etling. Redshirt sophomore Justin McMillan is in the mix as well, but Narcisse is much closer to challenging Etling.

But that could all change once ESPN 300 member Myles Brennan arrives. Things could get more interesting for Etling this fall.


After what seemed like 35 years, Joshua Dobbs is no longer Tennessee's starting quarterback. And from the looks of things, redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano and junior Quinten Dormady are the leaders of the pack. Sheriron Jones and Will McBride are competing, but the former seem to have separated themselves.

Dormady has played in 10 games for the Vols and has 357 yards with a touchdown. Guarantano has all the hype and fanfare. The former ESPN 300 member can sling it and is pretty mobile. He's the presumed favorite to replace Dobbs.

Texas A&M

It's a three-headed race in College Station. Veteran Jake Hubenak, redshirt freshman Nick Starkel and true freshman Kellen Mond are all jockeying to replace Trevor Knight. Hubenak is the most experienced and was up for the job last year, but he's limited compared to the other two. Starkel has the arm talent the coaches like, but he doesn't have a ton of mobility. Mond is the most talented of the bunch.

Mond has the best speed of the three, and coach Kevin Sumlin's offenses have had the most success with a mobile quarterback who can execute the zone-read. On paper, Mond is the best suited to do that.