Ranking All 14 SEC Starting Quarterbacks
The SEC quarterback class this season is not as strong as we usually see. I looked at the starting quarterbacks for each of the 14 SEC programs and ranked them from the worst, to the best.
I considered a couple different things when ranking them, their prior stats, their current school schedule, and what they will have around them. This is how I ranked them:
No.14: Shawn Robinson - Missouri
Shawn Robinson looks to become the starting quarterback at Missouri after sitting out last season due to his transfer from TCU. Robinson played 12 games at TCU over two years, throwing for 1518 Yards, 12 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. He added 389 yards on the ground and 3 touchdowns.
The knock-on Robinson has been his accuracy throwing the football. His career completion percentage is under 60% and throwing 8 interceptions in 12 games isn’t exactly impressive. With no SEC experience, and what he will have around him, I have Robinson last in my rankings.
However, Robinson was four-star recruit coming out of high school, so this can be a stepping stone year for Robinson. I don’t believe Robinson will be last on my list next season, but I think this will be a rough year for Shawn, and the schedule does him no favors.
It is reasonable to believe, even with subpar quarterback play, Missouri could start the season 3-1, as they play Central Arkansas, Vandy, South Carolina, and Eastern Michigan. After those first four, things will get tougher as Missouri goes to Tennessee and BYU before playing Georgia and Kentucky at home. The back quarter of the schedule has them going to Mississippi State and Florida while playing LA-Lafayette and Arkansas to round out the season.
No.13: Jeremy Moussa - Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt not being last of my list, is this real life? If Jeremy Moussa wins the starting job this season at Vanderbilt, I like him over Shawn Robinson.
Moussa comes to Vandy as a transfer from San Bernardino Valley College in California. Last season, Moussa led his team to a 9-2 record, and the conference title. I could bore you with his impressive passing stats, but I figure most people will discredit them since it was junior college football.
Coming out of high school, Moussa was a three-star recruit, and signed with the University of Hawaii. In his freshman season with Hawaii, Moussa saw action in two games, completing four of his nine passes for 77 yards, and a touchdown.
Moussa comes into the season with three years of eligibility left, after earning the redshirt his freshman season with Hawaii. He was going to compete with true freshman Ken Seals for the starting job in the offseason program, but that was pretty much wiped out. Moussa also came into spring workouts with a leg injury, which held him back in the first couple practices.
Many Vanderbilt writers believe Seals will open the season with the starting job, but I believe the experience Moussa has would be a better choice as the starter than a true freshman. But either way, I believe at best Vandy is a four-win team, no matter if it’s Seals or Moussa under center.
No.12: Myles Brennan - LSU
Life comes at your fast, especially you LSU fans. But hey, never forget last season.
I can’t find any reason to have Brennan any higher on this list than 12th. LSU lost every draft eligible starter on offense from last season, which only leaves tackle Austin Deculus, and wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall Jr.
Now, Chase was LSU’s best receiver last season, and Marshall is also a very solid player, so Myles will have targets. But that alone won’t get him any higher on my list.
Myles Brennan was a four-star recruit coming out of Mississippi in 2017. From 2017-2019, Brennan appeared in 15 games, completing 42 of his 70 passing attempts for 600 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He saw the majority of his work last season, since LSU seemed to be up 21+ in every game.
Along with losing almost all of their starters, LSU lost Joe Brady, who was instrumental in the success of last season’s team. And LSU won’t have an easy go of it with their schedule, with an early season game against Texas, and going to the Swamp week six, along with the incredibly tough SEC West, Brennan would have to be fantastic for LSU to be anywhere close to what they were last season, and his previous appearances don’t prove he will be this season.
No.11: John Rhys Plumlee - Ole Miss
Last season true freshman John Rhys Plumlee burst onto the scene and showed everyone in the SEC he was an incredible runner at the quarterback position. With that, he also showed he wasn’t great at throwing the football.
Plumlee ran for 1,023 yards and 12 touchdowns, including four rushing touchdowns against LSU in November. However, Plumlee only threw four touchdowns all season, and didn’t throw one after October 12th against Missouri.
Plumlee is one of the most intriguing QB’s in the entire conference in my opinion. He certainly didn’t have a bad freshman season, but it’s hard to say it was a good one, since he didn’t really throw the ball. But his running ability could make him a deadly player in the future.
I believe hiring Lane Kiffin was a huge move, especially in the development of Plumlee. If Kiffin can work with Plumlee, and and get his completion percentage up from the 52.7% clip it was at last season, to go along with the running ability, watch out.
Although some believe Plumlee might not be Mississippi’s starter to open the season, I don’t see how he couldn’t be.
No. 10: Jarrett Guarantano - Tennessee
Just cracking the top 10 on my list is Tennessee Volunteers QB Jordan Guarantano. Having Guarantano above Plumlee was an easy decision for me, simply because Guarantano can throw the football.
Alright, it’s a little more than that, but in his three years at Tennessee, Jordan has increased his yards, touchdowns, and QB rating in all three years. I also like his mobility. Now, he’s not a runner, but he can move around in the pocket, and that’s an important skill to have playing behind a Tennessee offensive line, which hasn’t had a player drafted from it since Ja’Wuan James and Zach Fulton in 2014.
Guarantano has had his struggles in Tennessee, last season head coach Jeremy Pruitt was quick to throw freshman Brian Maurer into the game if Guarantano was struggling. But lucky for Guarantano, Maurer never did anything to keep himself in the game.
Unfortunately for Guarantano, he is losing his two best receivers from last season in Marquez Callaway and Jauan Jennings, and it will be tough to replace their 89 catches for 1,604 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Paring that with a schedule that sees Tennessee go to Norman to play the Sooners week two, and the Tide coming to Rocky Top in late October, it might be a tough season for Guarantano and the Vols.
No. 9: Ryan Hilinski - South Carolina
As a true freshman, Ryan Hilinski stepped in for the injured Jake Bentley and played eleven games as the team’s starter. Although South Carolina didn’t win many games, Hilinski had respectable stats for a freshman.
Ryan completed 58.1% of his passes for 2,357 yards and 11 touchdowns to only 5 interceptions. From a Junior or Senior, those stats would be underwhelming, but for a true freshman who was thrust into the starter role in the second game of the season, they are impressive.
Hilinski did have offseason knee surgery, but it won’t require him to miss any time once teams are allowed to begin workouts. However, one thing he will be missing from last season is his best receiver Bryan Edwards. Edwards caught 71 passes last season for 816 yards, the next closest receiver only caught 43 passes for 489 yards.
South Carolina will also have an easier schedule than they played last season. They will trade out North Carolina for East Carolina, as well as trading out Alabama for LSU. If Hilinski can continue to progress him game, South Carolina can be a six to seven win team in 2020.
No. 8: Feleipe Franks - Arkansas
After three years, and 27 games as the quarterback for the Florida Gators, Feleipe Franks transferred to the Razorbacks this offseason after missing the final eight games of the 2019 season. With the emergence of Kyle Trask after Franks went down, transferring was the best option for Feleipe.
During his time in the Swamp, Franks completed 59% of his passes, 367-622, for 4,593 yards, throwing 38 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He added 438 yards on the ground, and eight more touchdowns as well.
There has never been any doubt about Feleipe’s talent, but getting it to translate each and every play has been tough. The best way to describe Feleipe’s career in Gainesville is how Terry has on the show, he would make three plays that would make you awe and follow that up with four or five that leave you scratching your head.
So, what is Arkansas getting? In short, an experienced quarterback, that can lead a team like no other, with flashes of incredible talent, and a huge arm. Any Arkansas fan reading this article should be thrilled to have Franks as their new quarterback, as he is the best one they have had since Tyler Wilson.
However, the downside for Arkansas will be their schedule. Playing out of conference games against Notre Dame and Nevada, plus having to host the Vols, I believe Franks can lead the Razorbacks to somewhere between a five and seven win season, which would be a huge improvement.
No. 7: Terry Wilson Jr. - Kentucky
Having Wilson in my top seven will probably shock some people, and that’s okay.
Wilson had his junior season cut short in 2019 due to a knee injury in the second game. In the two games he played, Wilson was 33-52 for 360 yards and two touchdowns. Now, that doesn’t sound like much, but Wilson was building on his solid 2018 season.
In 2018, Wilson was 180-268 for 1,889 yards with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Now, yes I understand only throwing three more touchdowns than interceptions isn’t impressive, but this is.
In the first month of the 2018 season, which was five games, Wilson threw five of those eleven interceptions. So, from October through the Citrus Bowl, Wilson completed 67.4% of his passes for 1294 yards, for nine touchdowns and only three interceptions.
Another thing to keep in mind, Wilson transferred from Junior college to Kentucky after his freshman year, so those first five games I mentioned were his first in D1 football, and no less, in the SEC. Oh, and Florida fans, don’t forget one of those games was Kentucky’s first win against the Gators since 1986.
In that 2018 season, Wilson led the Wildcats to their first 10 win season since 1977, and their first bowl win since 2008.
If you can’t yet tell, I think Wilson deserves more credit than he gets. If he is fully healthy, and Joey Gatewood isn’t granted immediate eligibility, I think Wilson leads Kentucky to a seven to nine win season in 2020.
No. 6 Bo Nix- Auburn
Although it is very close, I have Bo Nix just above Wilson in my rankings. Even if you aren’t a big SEC fan, you have probably heard of Bo Nix. He got a lot of media exposure for a true freshman that didn’t have a great season.
Now, when I say he didn’t have a great season, he still had a very solid true freshman campaign. Nix threw for 2,542 yards last season, with 16 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He added 313 more yards on the ground, and another seven touchdowns.
Similar to Wilson, Nix thew five of his six interceptions in the first six games of the season, and to be more specific, he threw two in the first game of the season, and three in Auburn’s sixth game of the season, and their first loss on the road against Florida.
The knock-on Nix last season was he “couldn’t win you a game.” Although Auburn beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl, no one gives Nix the credit for winning the game.
Auburn had an all-world defense, led by top ten pick in this year’s NFL draft Derrick Brown. Auburn’s defense only gave up more than 24 points one time all season, and that was against Alabama.
The good news for Nix, his best receiver, Seth Williams returns to Auburn after going for 830 yards and eight touchdowns. The bad news, Nix will lose both of his starting tackles, and Auburn loses four of their core players of the defensive side of the ball. Even with the losses, I think Auburn is eight win team, and could be better depending on how good Nix can be.
No. 5: Kellen Mond - Texas A&M
Some national polls have had Mond ranked as the best quarterback in the SEC, and I just don’t see how that is possible. In nearly every major statistic, Mond got worse from 2018 to 2019.
In 2019, he threw for less yards and touchdowns than in 2018, and his rating went down about four points. The only major stat that got better was his completion percentage, going from 57.3 in 2018, to 61.6 in 2019, which is promising. But with that being said, I don’t know how you could have Mond much higher than this in any rankings.
Another positive about Mond, in both 2018 and 2019, he only threw nine interceptions per season, which isn’t great, but it’s also not horrible.
In my opinion, it’s just hard to say Mond is getting any better. You like to see the completion percentage getting better, but with the touchdowns and yards going down, and the number of attempts going up, you can’t really say he is progressing.
Another interesting thing to keep in mind, Texas A&M should start the season no worse than 5-1 with games against ACU, North Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Fresno State before getting into the tough games in their schedule. Even with a tough back end, A&M should be a nine win team, and I think the only thing that may hold them back is Mond, but we will see.
No. 4: Jamie Newman - Georgia
In what has been the most overhyped transfer in recent memory, Jamie Newman comes to Georgia by way of Wake Forrest after an impressive 2019 season. And yes, Newman is a solid player, but Georgia fans are acting like it’s the second coming of God himself.
Playing in a much weaker ACC, Newman completed 60.9% of his passes, for 2,868 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. And although those stats are impressive, it’s not the SEC.
When digging into the stats, something caught my eye. In games where Wake Forrest played “real schools” meaning North Carolina, Boston College, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Duke, Syracuse and Michigan State, Newman threw 10 on his 11 interceptions, and only 12 of his touchdowns. Against the rest of the schedule, Rice, Utah State, North Carolina State, and Elon Phoenix College, Newman threw 14 of his touchdowns, and only one interception.
So, what does that tell me? Newman padded his solid stats against inferior competition. And, at best, was decent against real competition. That isn’t going to work against a schedule that see’s Georgia play Alabama and Virginia for their non-division games. I think Georgia can still be an 8-9-win team, but can we please pump the breaks on Newman being the greatest thing since sliced bread?
No. 3 K.J. Costello- Mississippi State
To pair with new head coach Mike Leach, K.J. Costello transferred to Mississippi State this offseason from Stanford. And although it might shock people, Costello is without a doubt a top 3 QB in the SEC.
At Stanford, Costello only had one full season as the starter in 2018. He won the job midway through the 2017 season as a Sophomore and lost the jobs after 5 games last season due to injury. Meanwhile, in those three seasons, Costello completed 62.6% of his passes for 6,151 yards, 49 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions.
Those stats without a doubt jump off the page, but what makes him so highly ranked is getting to work with Mike Leach. Leach is known for having an incredible passing attack in his offense, without usually having a highly touted quarterback. He has turned many quarterbacks into stars, most recently Gardner Minshew II.
To pair with Costello, Mississippi State will bring back Kylin Hill, star running back who ran for 1,350 yards last season. And as for receivers, State brings back Osirus Mitchell, who led the team in touchdown receptions in 2019.
Mississippi State did lose both Willie Gay and Cameron Dantzler on the defensive side of the football to the NFL draft, but even with those losses, Mississippi State has the potential to shock some people by way of double-digit wins. And although I might be jumping to conclusions here, one thing that is for sure, K.J. Costello should be getting as much, if not more hype than Jamie Newman.
No. 2: Mac Jones - Alabama
Before I started looking at stats, I didn’t know where Mac would end up in my rankings, but after looking at them, paired with what he has around him, Mac Jones is the second best quarterback in the SEC.
Mac Jones took over for Tua after his season ending injury against Mississippi State. But lucky for Alabama fans, Coach Saban had been getting Jones work in nearly every game before, so he was ready to step in.
In 2019, Jones completed an incredible 68.8 percent of his passes for 1,503 yards, 14 touchdowns, and only three interceptions. Now, I’m aware he was throwing the ball to Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Judy, who were both picked in the first round of the NFL draft, and next year he will be throwing the ball to Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, who are both likely first rounders in the draft next year, but that’s just how it is when you play for Alabama.
Najee Harris also returns to Bama, who caught 304 yards and seven touchdowns last season, along with his 1224 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground.
Jones only lost one game as a starter last season, but it was the Iron Bowl against Auburn. And although they lost, I remember most of the national media talking about Mac Jones after the game, rather than Bo Nix. Jones threw for 335 yards and four touchdowns against the incredible Auburn defense. However, he also threw two pick sixes, including the 100-yard return from Zakoby McClain. Without those two passes, it’s not a hard argument to make that Bama wins the game easy.
So, although it may shock people, I think it’s easy to say Mac Jones is the second-best quarterback in the SEC right now. The stats don’t lie, and he still has so much growing to do. If he can improve on his 1,503 yards and 14 touchdowns in his first full season as a starter, Bama will be back in the College Football Playoff in 2020.
No. 1: Kyle Trask - Florida
Call it biased, call it whatever you want, but there is little question that Kyle Trask in the best quarterback in the SEC going into the 2020 season.
Trask stepped into the light at Kentucky down 21-10 after Feleipe Franks went down with an ugly ankle injury late in the third quarter. Trask, who had barely played a snap since high school, stepped in and led the Gators to 19 unanswered points, and the win. From there, the legend of Kyle Trask was born.
Following that game, Trask led the Gators to eight more wins, including beating Auburn, who was undefeated at the time, and an Orange Bowl victory against Virginia. However, the Gators still lost to rival Georgia, and the undefeated national champion LSU Tigers.
Many in the national media have said Florida played LSU better than anyone last season besides Clemson in the Natty. Many forget Florida was up 28-21 early in the third and tied at 28 until LSU took the lead with three minutes to go in the 3rd.
Trask finished the season completing 66.9 percent of his passes for 2,941 yards, 25 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Again, I can’t stress enough Trask had barely played any football since high school, and stepped in to be second in passing yards in the SEC, losing out only to the Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow.
Now, with both Tua and Burrow leaving for the NFL, Trask is at the top of the mountain of SEC quarterbacks in 2020. Although many have argued Jamie Newman is better than Kyle Trask, including many people in my Instagram comments, due to Newman having more touchdowns and less interceptions than Trask. But as I have said before, Trask played much harder competition, and Newman padded his stats against inferior competition.
The Gators have high expectations for the 2020 season, most of them due to the success and potential of Kyle Trask. Florida will return superstar tight end Kyle Pitts, as well as receivers Trevon Grimes and Kadarius Toney. Florida also recently got news five-star transfer Lorenzo Lingard will be granted immediate eligibility, and will look to win the starting job at running back.
I have the Gators not losing a game in the 2020 regular season, and playing an undefeated Alabama in the SEC championship, but Kyle Trask will have to be as good as we think he will be to get the Gators to that point.
So, there it is, my final ranking for the 2020 SEC starting quarterbacks. I’m sure some of you won’t agree with me, and that’s okay. You know how to reach me if you want to discuss my list.
Next week I will be putting out my projected records for all 14 SEC schools, so that should be another fun topic to dive into. Until then, make sure to tune into the show, College Sports Today, every Monday and Friday at Noon on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube!